Friday, November 16, 2012

Thoughts on Serving Wine for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is next week! I’ve been so busy music directing a show (“1776” at Cheney Hall in Manchester, thanks for asking) that I’ve had very little time or mental energy to devote to blogging – but I’m finally getting back into thinking about wine because, well…because I have to! Thanksgiving is right around the corner!

In lieu of writing about wine in my brain-suppressed state, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading about wines that go well with a turkey dinner (sorry, if you’re serving something else, this post may not work for you). The opinions are as varied as the wines themselves, so I will preface my following thoughts with this very important sentence: Drink what you like, and don’t let anybody else ruin your enjoyment of what you like!

#1 - Do you have enough wine? Don’t let this scare you, but you should plan on a ½ bottle per person. A 750 ml bottle of wine is good for 4 glasses, if that tells you anything. Don’t be afraid to splurge for this one special holiday meal. You may have extra wine at the end of the day, but it’ll still be good the next day with the leftovers, or you can keep it in the fridge for a while and use it for cooking. You can also freeze wine in ice cube trays to add to recipes later on, so don’t be concerned about buying too much – it will not get thrown out, I promise!

#2 – Serve a variety of wine. There is no one wine that goes with a Thanksgiving turkey, so offer your guests a few choices! Keep it light, though, this is no time to break out a heavy Cabernet Sauvignon or something that’s been aging in your cellar for years. Red wine fans might instead consider a Pinot Noir or a Zinfandel, or another varietal/blend that is fruit forward and food friendly. Chardonnay is a big favorite for a white offering, and also offering something off-dry like a Riesling may appeal more to the occasional wine drinkers. For appetizers, why not offer a nice Sauvignon Blanc or a bright Pinot Grigio – both go well paired with cheese & crackers, stuffed mushrooms, chips & dip, guacamole, and other light finger foods.

#3 – Break out the bubbles!  Sparkling Wine - it’s not just for New Year’s, folks, so why not start your festivities off with a toast! As a bonus, sparkling wines can be quite food friendly. It’s the bright acidity and the palate-cleansing bubbles that make them work so well with food. For most holiday meals, an off-dry bubbly works best, but for desserts – make sure it’s sweet!

#4 – Dessert Wine. A real treat! Just be sure that any wine you serve with dessert is sweeter than the dessert itself, or it will clash terribly. Some of my favorites are made right here in CT. Try Sharpe Hill Vineyard’s award winning Select Late Harvest.

#5 – Consider something other than grapes! In keeping with your variety, why not try a cranberry-apple wine blend? Bishops Orchards right here in CT makes a festive wine called Amazing Grace that is said to pair really well with a traditional New England turkey dinner. So throw caution to the wind and try something new!

So, these are my thoughts regarding Thanksgiving wine offerings – what are yours? Please share what you’re serving this year, and what has been successful (or maybe even a disaster, ha!) in years past. Life is too short to drink bad wine, but thankfully there is a lot of good stuff out there, and we all want to hear about it!