Turkey is poultry, so the go-to pairing selection is a white wine. But the hitch is that a whole roaster yields both white and dark meat, so the racy sauvignon blanc you chose for the breast meat may not play well with that rich, savory drumstick.
Also, turkey is the great imposter of meats. It takes on the flavors of whatever it’s cooked with; that’s why we like to stuff it, baste it, roast it with veggies, and serve it with showy sauces. The result? You’ve chosen a rich California chardonnay to complement the Butterball and cornbread stuffing, but it clashes with the cranberry preserves. Or, you recommend a red Burgundy to go with the dark meat, but your guests reach for a dry riesling to cut through their mashed potatoes.
Here are my recommendations for your turkey-based spread:
Here we’re going for ideology over substance. Zin is perhaps the only “American” variety, that is, the only grape that we didn’t borrow from the French and that we seem to bottle exclusively. So drinking zinfandel, like celebrating Thanksgiving for that matter, is patriotic, maybe even nationalistic. Especially if you can find a single-vineyard bottling — Ridge and Rosenblum specialize in these, and you can tell it’s made from the grapes of a single vineyard because the name of the plot will be prominent on the label – you will find that its less jammy, more spicy flavors will go great with turkey and all its dressings.
2. Old Cabernet
A California cab or a French Bordeaux with more than 20 years under its belt will have enough fruit to enliven the dark meat of the turkey. But it will also have the grace to complement the white meat. The only drawback is that you need to have a good cold cellar (or you have to invite someone who does, or pay a lot of money to a merchant or auctioneer who bought hers from someone who does). In my case, I’m bringing to my mother’s traditional dinner a Dunn Howell Mountain 1988, which I bought from the winery directly in 1997 and have lovingly cellared since.
People think of Champagne as a wine you drink only to celebrate New Year’s or a promotion. But they’re missing the fact that Champagne (and sparkling wines made with the same process but from areas other than Champagne) are super versatile with food. I spotted J. Lasalle Impérial Préférence at a local wine shop for $29.25, which is a great price for a real, artisinal French Champagne. Or, if your budget is more limited, reach for Gloria Ferrer’s brut sparkler – I often see it on sale for $12.99. Finally, if you’re really trying to get the most fiscal mileage out of your holiday wine pairing, think Spanish cava: I love Jaume Serra’s Cristalino, a Spanish Cava for $6.99 a bottle.
HT: Wine Girl Online