Thanksgiving wine-food pairing 1

The great American harvest feast of Thanksgiving happens in eight days. Food—of all sorts—is a centerpiece. Family and friends bonding around a table groaning with food is the most important dish.

This week and next, food to pair with your wine, starting with a versatile and then a wow.

• Malbec. Malbec is go-to wine for those who want something less assertive—and less expensive—than quality cabernet sauvignon. Or, more assertive—and less expensive—than quality pinot noir.

Malbec does well with leaner cuts of red meat, dark meat turkey and chicken, pork roasts. Malbec’s fruitiness plays well with venison and bison. It plays well with mushrooms and roasted red peppers. If you go vegan, add portobello mushrooms and/or porcini mushroom powder to boost umami in your dish.

Malbec tastes fruiter and richer when paired with subtly used herbs such as sage and rosemary. It is a great marriage with mint. Think mint jelly and lamb chops.

Few bold red wines pair with blue cheese and other pungent cheeses. Malbec does. It also works with gorgonzola, Monterey Jack, melted Swiss, provolone. Malbecs typically do not have a long finish, so avoid cheeses whose tastes linger. But if you want a cheese tray at your feast—malbec is your match.

Pairings to avoid: Malbec does not have tannins and length for a rich red meat rumba. It will be OK, but that is not malbec’s wheelhouse. Avoid fishy fish. When fish lingers on your palate, malbec tastes like a tin can; vinaigrette salads—malbec taste flat; bitter greens—malbec tastes bitter.

• Port and blue Stilton cheese. Do something delicious and daring. Let those who enjoy pumpkin pie eat pumpkin pie. Go your own way. Port is a sweet fortified wine, typically ringing in at 20 percent alcohol. There are bright, young ports. There are complex vintage ports. All work with blue Stilton—the wine’s sweetness balances the saltiness of the creamy cheese. Be brave. Be different this dessert.

Tasting notes:

• Trivento Amado Sur, Mendoza 2016: Balanced, very approachable, fresh, tasty; 70% malbec. $11-16 Link to my review of this wine

• Bodega Colomé Estate Malbec, Salta 2015: Luxuriously rich and delicious. Superb value-for-price play. $23-25 Link to my review of this wine

• Other quality malbec makers: Alamos, Domaine Bousquet, Amalaya. Link to Alamos Wines website   Link to Domaine Bousquet website   Link to Amalaya website

• Dow’s 20 Year Tawny Porto: Twenty years is perfect age for tawny; every wine drinker should enjoy this delight. $50-65 Link to my review of this wine

Last round: I am not going to drink any more wine this Thanksgiving. I will drink the same amount I did last year. That was more than enough.