The Wine Palate
November 10, 2006
Of all the American holidays, it is certainly Thanksgiving that is most centered around food.
Families get together and break bread with nothing more on their minds than spending time together and enjoying a great meal.
I, like many other Park City folk, am an import. To us, Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to eat well and spend time with the few family members or close friends that we have around us. Somehow, this has provoked me to imagine the amazing dinners that the great chefs of the world might be cooking (I realize that this is an American holiday, but let a guy dream a little). Is Ferran Adria from El Bulli making a turkey, gravy, and potato orb covered in liquefied cranberry? Is Jean-Georges combining some undiscovered Asian spice with an apple pie to produce a desert to end all others?
This Thanksgiving you will be serving the great traditional dishes that are served every holiday season, and you may need a few wine recommendations to bring the family together for this great feast.
First, is the ever-popular centerpiece — the turkey.
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For this epicurean monument, I recommend Pinot Noir. Particularly one that is fruity. The Russian River Valley and Santa Barbara have a knack for producing this grape in a round and fruit manor.
Turkey is an unusual food to pair with wine, considering it has so many different flavors and components that add to its complexity. The dark meats are oily and fatty, filled with heavy flavors that need a wine with some body to keep up with.
The white meat, however, has a tendency to become dry and needs a wine with enough acidity to wash the meat down. That is why I feel that California Pinot Noir is the perfect pairing for turkey.
Then, of course, there are all the great side dishes that go along with a great turkey dinner. For these you have to have a very versatile wine as there may be many dishes strewn about the table — sweet potatoes, soups, and the occasional weird goopy stuff that Aunt Jenny brought over.
For these, I would recommend a dry Riesling that has enough acidity to cut through Aunt Jenny’s goop, but will also compliment the flavors of many dishes that may come into play.
While this Thanksgiving might not be prepared by an all-star chef from Spain or France, it will be enjoyed with your loved ones and how better to respond than with great wine. Good luck, and eat well.
Zev Rovine is the sommelier and resident cheese monger at the Spotted Frog Bookstore Cafe and Wine Bar where he teaches weekly wine classes. His wine education comes from the American Sommelier Association in N.Y.C. and he tries his very best not to spill the Pinot on the bestseller section. If you have any wine queries or comments he is easily contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .