Thanksgiving is upon us next week, so thoughts today on wines to go with the great harvest feast.
One thing you can ignore is the old shibboleth that you must pair white meats with white wines and red meats with red wines.
Make it simple: pinot noir is the no-fail, default pour. It goes well with turkey and ham, and in its richer iterations can work with richer red meats, although cabernet sauvignon, malbec, petite sirah, and Barolo do better with fatty meats thanks to their richer tannins.
If you are in a fowl mood, chicken and turkey pair with chardonnay, while pinot noir, zinfandel, and malbec are good with the fattier meat of duck.
Lamb has more delicate flavors than most beef and pairs best with Spanish Rioja, zinfandel, merlot, and carménère.
Pork pairs nicely with lower tannin, fruity wines—fruity merlot pairs with baked and honey-glazed ham, while roast pork pairs better with a Washington State pinot noir or Burgundy from France.
If you have a variety of lighter meats, salads, and fish, then sauvignon blanc is the default in the same way pinot noir pairs with lighter red meats, turkey, and salmon.
Not yet mentioned but certainly in the running for Thanksgiving festivities: rosé wines, sparkling wines, and sparkling rosés. They are very versatile and crowd pleasing with their color and their bubbles.
Many family Thanksgiving feasts have so many different dishes that it almost is impossible not have some wine pair with something. The key is not to fret about pairing perfection. Enjoy the bounty of the summer just past and the loved ones who have joined you for the feast.
• San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015: Example of the astonishing value Chilean wines offer. $14-18 Link to my review
• Broadley Vineyards Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2016: Concentrated flavors; classic strawberry and raspberry fruit notes with a hint of chocolate; affordable entry into world of quality Willamette Vally PN. $18-22 Link to my review
• Peter Zemmer Rolhüt Pinot Noir Alto Adige DOC 2017: Light, fruity style of PN from northeastern Italy. $19-24 Link to my review
• Etude Pinot Noir, Grace Benoist Ranch Vineyard, Carneros 2016: Terrific, delicious entry into the world of quality Carneros pinot noir. $41-47 Link to my review
• Van Duzer Westside Blocks Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2014: Robust, sophisticated, versatile; noticeable tannin, oak, bold fruit. $50-60 Link to my review
Last round: When it comes to wine at Thanksgiving, I always make pour decisions.