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November 1, 2009

Holiday wine – pairing to the people

Ugh.  The first holiday wine pairing request just came in…which ones will go best with a Thanksgiving dinner featuring thyme-roasted turkey with gingered-cranberry stuffing?  My answer: beer and Boone’s Farm.  Gewurztraminer and Coke.  Pinot and Pelligrino.

I know that’s a wacky answer.  But I’m serious.  Thanksgiving dinner is NOT the place to play a headdy wine-to-food pairing game.  You can do that with a small group of oenophiles at another time.

Thanksgiving wine pairing

I usually skip the complicated wine plan at Thanksgiving, and spend more time preparing classic dishes with perfect technique.

Instead, the more important task at hand is similar to that of serving wine at most large parties — put a decent variety of wines out to please the guests (with diverse palates), and don’t break the bank.

Here’s why:

  • If your holiday gatherings are like mine, you’ve got a hodgepodge of drinkers at best.  Trying to please everyone’s palate, especially with different tastes and levels of sophistication, is a mighty task that would give any sommelier a headache.
  • Dinner is usually served potluck and family style rather than as a 5-course meal.  That makes for a lot of different flavors mish-mashed on one plate and careful pairings will easily get lost.
  • Aunt Edna probably doesn’t have the glassware in her china cabinet to support the tasting of a broad selection of wines during the meal.  Heck, it might even be Styrofoam cups!

So if you have a typical gathering where you are serving drinks to dozen or so friends and family, I suggest you pick a few $7-15 reds and whites, and then figure soda, beer, and bubbly water for the folks who don’t drink wine.  Open them all at once, keep your snobby wine talk to a minimum…then eat, drink, and be merry!