Picking the perfect wine to go with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner isn’t easy.
What goes with turkey — white and dark meat — stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, and the other assorted goodies that make up the holiday feast? With myriad flavors, it’s a wine buyer’s nightmare.
There is nothing wrong with serving the usual suspects with the Thanksgiving repast – Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. They are popular and can pair well with Thanksgiving flavors. But if you’d like to consider stepping outside the box this year, there are many possibilities.
At Fine Wines of Stockton in Lincoln Center last week, owners Gail and George Herron examined the Thanksgiving-wine pairing dilemma and offered six wines (two whites, four reds) in a blind tasting. The wines tantalyzed the taste buds and spurred the imagination.
2013 Damilano Arneis ($18.75)
From Langhe in Piedmont, this Arneis is pale lemon in color. There is minerality, tropical fruit and grass on the nose. It’s dry with medium-plus acid, medium body and medium alcohol with citrus, green and red apple flavors and a medium finish. It’s tasty and youthful and should be consumed now to enjoy its fruity freshness. This would be good to sip while making dinner or with white meat and cranberry sauce.
2012 Rapitala Grillo ($13)
This wine had more complexity than the Arneis. The color is medium lemon with smoke, cooked asparagus and grapefruit pith on the nose. The acid is high, with medium body. The lemon, citrus and asparagus flavors gently smooth out, leaving a soft finish. There is a slight bitter sensation on the mid-palate. This would go with dark and white meat, sweet potatoes and veggies, like green beans.
2011 Moulin-a-Vent Beaujolais Cru Classe George de Boeuf ($22)
This is a pretty nifty bottle of wine. The color is medium ruby, and the nose has medium intensity with spice, blue fruit, raspberries, earth, cherry, cola and some oak influence in the form of smokiness . It’s dry with medium flavor intensity, medium tannin, high acid and medium body. The finish is medium-plus, as the acid lingers. This should be consumed now but has enough tannin and acid to cellar for 3 to 5 years. Has enough balance to pair well with Thanksgiving flavors.
The 2012 Hetiz Grignolino would go well with mushroom stuffing and dark meat turkey.
2012 Heitz Grignolino ($19.75)
Pale ruby in color, this Grignolino bursts from the glass with the pronounced aroma of rose petals. It’s almost overwhelming. In time, the nose softens and changes to grape soda, nutmeg, ripe red cherries. The rose aroma still is there, but moves into the passenger-side seat. The flavor intensity is medium-plus and there is a slight hint of petillance, though bubbles are not present in the wine. It has earth notes, strawberries, cherry cough drops and again, rose petals on the palate. Might be even more intriguing several years from now. Would work similarly as a Pinot Noir with some of the umami flavors on the Thanksgiving table, like roasted mushrooms, stuffing and dark meat turkey. This might turn some off, but it really is an interesting wine to consider for Thanksgiving.
2011 Borra Heritage ($21)
The Borra Heritage was my favorite red and the second-most popular red among the group of tasters. This blend of 36 percent Barbera, 32 percent Carignan, 30 percent Petit Sirah and 2 percent Zinfandel is medium ruby in color with medium intensity on the nose with aromas of black pepper, blueberries and raspberries. The sweetness is dry and the flavor intensity is medium. Picked up some tart fruit, like cranberries, but also rich blueberries and black plums. The medium-plus tannin, medium-plus alcohol and medium-plus body are pleasant and play nicely together. This would go well with the Thanksgiving meal. There is a lot going on here.
2010 Rapitala Nero d’ Avalo ($27)
This Sicilian wine will make you an offer you can’t refuse. It was the group’s favorite and my second favorite among the reds we tried. Medium garnet color. Bacon fat, nutmeg, earth floor, black cherries, raspberries and blue fruit on the nose. Dry with medium-plus intensity, medium-plus tannin, medium acid and medium-plus body. Pine needles, earth floor, blue fruit and tart red cherry flavors led to a medium-long finish. Dark meat, gravy and stuffing would not scare this bad boy away, even if your father doesn’t like him.
These great suggestions are available at Fine Wines of Stockton. See if they add some flair to your Thanksgiving table.