Several years ago I posted my first 'Thanksgiving Wine Public Service Announcement'. Friends and followers alike seemed to appreciate the practical recommendations and general approach. I decided to do a repost but modify it a bit. I've included some of my original "rules" for drinking wine with Thanksgiving but I've tweaked them a bit and also included some more detailed bottle-specific recommendations for each course.
So here it is, my guide to pairing wine with Thanksgiving festivities. I'm generally not a fan of "rules" for drinking wine but I will say... if you follow all of these, you are guaranteed to have a revelatory wine and food paring on the greatest food holiday in America.
1) First and foremost, drink wine that you like (duh) but buy a variety of different bottles and include something you've never heard of in the mix
2) WINE IS FOOD TOO. Look for sustainably-grown certifications like organic and biodynamic and support small wineries and independent wine shops.
3) Focus on lower alcohol wines under 14.5% but more in the 12.5-13.5% range
4) Best varietals
Red: pinot noir, gamay, cab franc, zinfandel, barbera, corvina (!), nerello mascalese
White: chardonnay, riesling (dry or off-dry), pinot blanc, viognier, chenin blanc
Recommendations: ANY Oregon pinot noir, Scaia corvina, Clos de la Roilette Fleurie, Willakenzie Pinot Blanc, Bedrock Wine. Co. Old Vine Zinfandel, OVUM riesling (MY GOD - best wines on this list), Broc Cellars Love White, anything from Division Wine Co..
5) Start the day/meal with some bubbly or rose or pink bubbly (real Champagne if you can afford it), transition to a white or light red, and then go to the pint noir, zinfandel, or barbera to pair with the main course.
Recommendations: May Georges Cremant de Loire ($20), Gruet 'Sauvage' ($20), or Champagne Agrapart '7 Crus'
6) Don't try to pair one wine with one dish. Let's be real, it's a free-for-all shit show once the meal starts so find wines that are generally food-friendly (lower alcohol and higher in acid) and will pair well with a variety of dishes
7) Screw wine altogether and drink either 1) Bourbon/Whiskey 2) dry cider or 3) Belgian red/sour/krief beers. A few of my favorite ciders are produced by Stem Ciders in Denver and Finn River outside of Seattle. Both produce a wonderfully dry and mildly hopped cider that would do well with any food you throw at it. There are too many Bourbons but there are so many independent distilleries producing amazing bottles, you should start there (Koval, Journeyman, Breckenridge, Laws Whiskey House, Old Town Distillery). Belgian-style red ales are now widely produced across the US. A few of the best breweries are Cascade Brewing in Portland, Lost Abbey in San Marcos, California, Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, and Crooked Stave Artisans in Denver/Fort Collins.
8) To assist with the digestion of your disgustingly excessive level of food in your body, try sipping on some amaro or similar digestif post-meal. Amaro's infusion of herbs puts your digestive system into overdrive. It also happens to taste really good and pairs well with traditional Thanksgiving flavors. My favorite: Montenegro Amaro.
9) Don't forget to keep drinking wine with leftovers the day after - turkey sandwiches with pinot noir is just as good as the fancier stuff you ate the day before
10) Always keep grandma's wine glass full
Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!