Food & Drink

Wine expert pairs wines for holiday dinner

Thanksgiving dinner is one of the more difficult meals to pair with wines because of the wide variety of flavors that many of us use in our traditional family dishes. One decision to make is whether to try and serve one wine that is versatile enough to handle every single item on the table or to serve a couple of different wines that complement the various dishes.

Diann Greene has provided us with some wonderful recipes for turkey with cornbread stuffing, spicy corn casserole and a sweet potato casserole with praline topping – with ingredients that include onion, celery, brown sugar, butter, pecans and cayenne pepper. So just where do you start in trying to select the perfect wine or wines that your dinner guests will enjoy with their meal? Well, I think a good place to always start is a sparkling wine.

Contrary to what many believe, sparkling wines are made to drink with food — in addition to their universal use as a festive toast. These wines complement a wide variety of foods — anything from brie and gouda cheese to spicy Asian foods to shellfish served with warm butter. In reality, the acidity that is found in sparkling wines cuts through the butter and provides a crisp, refreshing flavor.

One of my favorite sparkling wines is the Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir. This wine is a non vintage, meaning it was produced by blending grapes from different vintages. Once you pour a glass you will notice that it has a very faint light pink hue.

This wine should taste somewhat creamy and lush, with an aroma of red berries and it will complement each of the above mentioned dishes.

The Blanc de Noir is produced in Sonoma County and retails for approximately $13 a bottle.

Dry Rieslings are typically very refreshing and also complement a large variety of flavors and spices. The 2007 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Dry Riesling should also pair well with the spices and other ingredients that are used to make this Thanksgiving dinner. Specifically, I am looking forward to tasting this Dry Riesling with the spicy corn casserole. Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the largest producers of Riesling worldwide, making more than 660,000 cases of this particular wine which should make it easy to find. This wine retails for $9 a bottle.

When the topic of wine selections and Thanksgiving dinner are discussed, I must confess that my first thought is Pinot Noir. In my opinion, a Pinot Noir with very light, soft tannins is the perfect complement to a roasted turkey and dressing.

A really good one is the 2006 Wente Vineyards Reliz Creek Pinot Noir, which was rated 90 points by Wine Enthusiast. This wine should pair very well, having previously enjoyed it alongside roasted chicken.

In addition, the 2007 Wild Horse Pinot Noir from the Central Coast of California is a great choice. This wine recently received an 89 rating from the Wine Spectator and retails for approximately $23 a bottle. It has flavors of red berries and nice soft tannins.

The Pinot Noir is the flagship wine of Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards, which is named after the wild mustangs that used to freely roam nearby the wineries’ vineyards.

Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a festival paying homage to the harvest, which today we celebrate as a holiday feast with family and friends.

Nothing is more enjoyable than to raise a nice glass of wine and give thanks for the ability to share this meal with those who mean the most.