Yeah, it is that time of the year again. Just days left till Thanksgiving, the biggest family gathering and holiday in America. The joy of entertaining!
Even though I wasn’t born in this country, I still appreciate this very special American holiday. The time to meet with family and friends, meditating about what is there to be thankful for – and most importantly, it’s the time of food extravaganza!
When I used to be on the road selling wine, I noticed an activity that started in different wine stores around this time of the year. Several salesmen of different wine distributors (my competition in the store) were going around, posting tiny signs that said: “Great with the turkey” next to the wine they were suggesting.
First I thought: what a great sales tool and help for consumers, overwhelmed with a large selection of wines. I was disappointed that our own company didn’t think of that. Then I quickly realized that these “miracle signs” suddenly appeared on literally every single wine that my competition sell.
It would be a great tool to help consumer to pick the ideal wine for Thanksgiving. The one wine that pairs well with turkey dinner. It would be a great idea – if it was at all possible. When I saw these signs posted next to German Rieslings, Bordeaux wines, Italian Pinot Grigios, Californian Pinot Noirs, Italian Amarones, even some big Cabernet Sauvignons – one can’t think of more completely different styles of wine that are “supposed” to pair well with turkey.
The truth is, turkey dinner may simply be the most difficult menu to pair with wine. Not because of the turkey itself – but think about all those side dishes! Are they mostly sweet or savory? When else do you combine so many different flavors in one meal? The delicate meat, a maple syrup glaze, rich gravy, a cranberry sauce or jello, a stuffing, a beans casserole with a heavy cream or or overly salty mushroom soup and caramelized sweet potato with marshmallows and pecans. Crown it with sweet pumpkin pie and tell me what wine comes to your mind when you combine all this?
Nothing? Exactly! In my opinion it is close to impossible to find one wine that will fit it all. Not to mention that you might have a very large crowd around your holiday table – and every one of your guests may appreciate different wines. So what is there to do? I would recommend to have a variety of wines on hand. Don’t try to buy wine that is a perfect match for turkey. Pick wine that is a perfect match for you!
I was always encouraging to explore your palate and try new wines. This special occasion is the exception of the rule. Stick with what you know. Rely on your personal taste. If you always liked Merlot, there is no reason to ruin your Thanksgiving dinner by suddenly serving bone-dry Alsace Pinot Gris (which is by the way highly recommended for a turkey dinner by experts). It might match well, but what if you hate the wine? Drink what you appreciate and pick another day to experiment with new wines!
Very delicious, white Austrian Grüner Veltliner is considered to be one of the most versatile wine of all varieties to pair well with different food. But what if you or your grandma doesn’t like dry white wines? I have met people that swore on aged Bordeaux with a turkey dinner. I would personally think that it could be a bit overpowering the delicate meat of turkey. My personal choice is usually dry white or Pinot Noir – mostly because I enjoy drinking it all the time, and it’s light, velvety and lacking big tannins that may go against the turkey taste. Pinot Noir works well for me. But again, you wouldn’t find too many sweet side dishes on my holiday table. Even my veggies are clean, simple and in the most natural form.
So go ahead, and buy wines that you and your family love and that are proven to satisfy your most members of your family. You want to make everybody happy. So let’s put this headache behind us, and concentrate on the atmosphere, great food and an excellent company at our dinner table. And, of course, let’s concentrate on The Bird. Let’s make it moist, juicy, delicious – and unforgettable.