It’s that time again: leaves changing colors, pumpkins out in full force, and, of course, family traveling from far and wide to eat a delicious, curated meal at your house for the holiday. Stressed out? Let the turkey be the most complicated part of your meal. When it comes to what wines go best at Thanksgiving dinner, one need not spend a fortune to produce a rich effect. Consider progressing through your meal with a progression of wines that go well with the cuisine. And what better wines for Long Islanders to drink at a holiday celebrating America than, well, Long Island wines? Read on for the ultimate pairing guide for your holiday feast.
Start With A Sparkle
The reason that sparkling wines are so versatile is that they are bright and clean, and these elements pair well with everything from lean foods to meaty, fat ones. For a selection that’s a good entrée into the holiday, try Sparkling Pointe’s Brut 2014 ($29), a clean, golden-hued, Champagne-method sparkling wine that’s substantial enough to carry through a whole meal, should the desire present itself. Looking for a funkier start to your meal? I love Macari Vineyards’ 2015 “Horses” sparkling rosé ($26), a crown-capped, unfiltered bubbly with a tremendous mouth feel. Serve these wines with cheese or any other appetizers. You’re sure to dazzle your guests.
Drink White (Or Pink) After Memorial Day
Thanksgiving is sure to be a long, languid meal, so don’t overwhelm your guests’ palates with too much too soon. The One Woman Wines 2015 Gruner Veltliner ($26) is a bracing, steely wine that will keep friends and family salivating for more food (and wine). Don’t feel pressed to follow sparkling with white, though. Michael Croteau’s rosés are formidable wines. For casual drinking, I’m a fan of the Croteaux Vineyards 2016 Chloe Sauvignon Blanc Rosé ($25), an imminently quaffable onionskin pink wine with a tropical lushness achieved through skin contact. These wines are flexible and will wear well with everything from soup to chestnuts, should your stuffing contain them.
Beef It Up
Now’s your chance to introduce more concentrated white wines to the dining table, perfect for those drinkers who prefer to stick with white throughout (though I personally snub the old school directive that matches poultry with white wine). Kontokosta’s 2015 Riesling ($22) has just enough residual sugar to hold up to a big, fancy turkey. Its aromatic profile—all petrol and stone fruit—is complex and breathtaking. But it’s also not for everybody. When the Chardonnay lovers come knocking, point them toward the barrel-fermented 2014 Lenz Gold Chardonnay ($20), a creamy, varietally correct wine that will give any Napa Chard a run for its money.
The Big Stuff
If you’re the type who never lets a meal go by without a trusty red, well, Long Island has a good supply of the good stuff. If you’re comfortable breaking the bank a little, drink the elegant 2013 McCall “Ben’s Bordeaux Blend” ($48), which features Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec and will hold up to pretty much anything you throw at it. A leaner (but equally impressive) option lies in Mattebella Vineyards’ NV Famiglia Red ($23), a blend of Pomerol clone Merlot and Cab Franc that has both funk and finesse.
Something Sweet Or Sour
Here’s a bit of advice: Serve something at meal’s end to settle stomachs (and minds). It doesn’t have to be sweet, though it can be, and if you go that route you’d be hard-pressed to find a better Long Island sweetie than the oxidative, solera-style Palmer Vineyards 2008 Reposo ($75), a dark, sweet wine made from fortified Gewurztraminer. Sweet isn’t for everyone, of course, and if it isn’t your bag, there’s always a more spirited approach. What I’m talking about, in this particular instance, is vermouth, which Channing Daughters makes with astounding precision. The Vervino Vermouth ($28 to $40) comes in six separate “variations,” which include different seasonal aromatics (black birch in spring, musk melon in late summer, calendula in fall).
You may decide to not serve a cornucopia of wines with your holiday feast, choosing instead to focus on one or two that you genuinely love. That’s OK, too. Consider Thanksgiving the perfect opportunity to drink what you like, which may be the very definition of festive.