Thanksgiving is the biggest wine day and biggest turkey gobbling day of the year.
With that in mind, this week and next we pair wine with how you cook turkey.
Starting simple, if you buy a turkey and roast away without doing much beyond following directions on the label, you likely will encounter turkey’s classic dryness. Counter with Prosecco. La Marca is widely available; it and other Italian sparklings will have hint of sweetness—but just a hint, buy extra dry—and bubbles will add flair. Low alcohol will play well with the meal and allows enjoyment of football games later. Alternatives are other sparklings—Spanish cava, sparkling from New Mexico, California, New York, and there always is real Champagne.
If you go opposite direction and prepare turkey with a Cajun injection of hot spices—because you watched Emeril Lagasse do this—then wine needs to tone things down rather than moisten things up. Gewürztraminer is terrific and can be a conversation starter since many folks don’t know about this superb wine. Gewürztraminer will provide exciting lychee aromatics and palate-pleasing honey, slight sweetness, and medium-to-low acidity. It is grown-up version of moscato and a go-to pairing with hot Asian offerings, Caribbean foods, and Cajun-conjured cooking. While usually associated with Alsace, several Texas wineries make a good gewürz.
If you stuff turkey with sausage and chestnuts because Giada De Laurentiis and Martha Stewart do it, you will need a sturdy wine to dance with smoke and full body of the stuffings. A robust shiraz from Australia can waltz with that Matilda. If you want something smoother, garnacha from Spain works; bonus—Spanish wines are tremendous values.
If you go for all-in decadence and wrap your turkey in bacon or favor a John Madden turducken, that option delivers lots of flavor and fat on your plate and palate. The choice calls for a powerful Chianti, Super Tuscan, or California pinot noir with zin in the blend. Worry about the diet later.
Last round: I could not recall if Thanksgiving turkey goes with white wine or red wine, so I purchased a case of white and a case of red. Problem solved. I also bought a case of bubbly, just in case.
Email Gus at firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: Gus Clemens on Wine. Twitter: @gusclemens.