How Thanksgiving sides can inspire your wine pairing
Although we all talk turkey at Thanksgiving, in fact it’s the sides that tend to steal the show. Finding a wine that can cope with them all is never easy but you may just find your favourite side or dressing can inspire your choice.
Sweet potatoes with their maple syrup glaze or a marshmallow topped casserole like this one are likely to be the sweetest element of the meal - and a tricky one to match with wine. Given the savoury elements of the meal a sweet wine is probably overkill for most but try a refreshing spätlése or other medium-dry riesling or a rich chardonnay. Grenache is a grape with a lot of natural sweetness if you want to serve a red wine or, if you have a sweet tooth, go for one of the new wave of sweeter reds like Apothic.
Corn is another sweet-tasting vegetable that goes particularly well with chardonnay or try a rich young viognier like Laurent Miquel’s Verité from Languedoc in southern France
Lots of Thanksgiving sides have creamy sauces which should again incline you towards chardonnay - a grape variety that simply loves cream. If you’re planning an oyster casserole, Chablis would be a great pairing.
There’s usually a cranberry relish somewhere in the equation, sometimes with a hint of orange - so if that’s your favourite Thanksgiving flavour choose an equally bright fruity red. A young zinfandel or merlot, a really fruity pinot noir or even what the Australians often drink with their Christmas dinner, a sparkling shiraz
Maybe we’re becoming more health conscious but green vegetables such as green beans, collard greens, sprouts and kale seem to play a bigger role in the Thanksgiving feast these days. (OK, sometimes with cream!)
There are two grapes that have a touch of green about them themselves - carmenère from Chile and cabernet franc - even cabernet sauvignon can pick up on those dark leafy flavours.
If you’ve a taste for the more savoury aspects of the Thanksgiving feast like the sausage stuffing or dressing think of pouring syrah or shiraz, maybe combined with grenache and mourvèdre as it is in the Rhône and southern France (in Chateauneuf-du-Pape for example). If there’s a mushroom element that’s another reason to reach for the pinot noir.
There are of course huge variations in sides as this marvellous feature from the New York Times, The United States of Thanksgiving, shows so do adapt these suggestions to your local specialities - maybe even picking a local wine, beer or cider if you have a producer near you.
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