After Independence Day, the most American of holidays is Thanksgiving. And it’s celebrated in that most American of ways: food and lots of it. An abundance and diversity of food that sends the palate will go into overload… and presents a special challenge to the wine pairer.
Fortunately, it’s a challenge easily met when we remember these three “musts” about Thanksgiving wine:
- it must complement a wide variety of foods,
- it must be light- to medium-bodied, and
- it must have mass appeal.
The CW says that the “universal” white is Riesling and it’s red counterpart, Pinot Noir. Your Private Wineaux mostly agrees. It’s hard to argue with Riesling as its classic familiar fruit flavors and food-friendly acidity are a good match for just about any dish (pork is a natural pair). Its relatively low alcohol and light body mean it can be consumed with a heavy meal, and the traditional hint of sweetness makes it a favorite of wine aficionados and novices alike. The Germans still do it best — Your Private Wineaux will be enjoying Hexamer’s 2011 Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Riesling Spätlese (Nahe) — but fine examples can be had from Alsace in France and the Finger Lakes in New York.
On the red side, cool climate loving Pinot Noir certainly meets the first two criteria. It’s natural acidity and “fruit and earth” flavor profile allows it to stand with almost any meal, while its medium body keeps it in its place. Burgundy is its home, but wonderful efforts are coming out of New Zealand and Oregon (Mouton Noir’s Other Peoples Pinot is a favorite with Your Private Wineaux).
However Pinot Noir is not always a crowd-pleaser and the best (or even pretty good) ones tend to be pricey. Your Private Wineaux recommends Pinot’s Burgundian fellow, Gamay, for wines with more mass appeal. And for the Thanksgiving table; Beaujolais Nouveau.
Representing both fall’s first fruits and the first products of the vintage (in the northern hemisphere, anyway), Le Beaujolais Nouveau is a natural choice to usher in winter celebrations. Released barely two months after harvest, “BeauJo’s” bright fruit and low tannin have long made it a favorite of “Wineaux Nouveau.” Recently however, Beaujolais’ winemakers have upped the ante, putting the same care and consideration into their Nouveau that they give to their higher end Burgundy and Cru Beaujolais. With native yeasts and fruit from old vines, the result has been wines with as much appeal to the aficionado as to the novice. Your Private Wineaux has a particular fondness for the production of Jean-Paul Brun, but the 2015 Domaine de la Madone Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau Le Perréon will be on the table this year.
Of course any wine is special when served to family and friends with a good meal on a memorable occasion. Whatever the choice, that’s what makes the Thanksgiving wine the perfect one.