Monday, November 23, 2015

What Pairs Best with Turkey?

 On Thanksgiving the question about what wine to serve with dinner is one that comes up all the time. There are some great suggestions that have been coming in on Twitter (@womenwhowine). But what it really all breaks down to is this:

Thanksgiving pairs best with Gratitude!

Does this sound sort of ridiculous? It might. But it's true. 

Over the years we have had the occassion to celebrate with a wonderful variety of people with amazing backgrounds and palettes. We have enjoyed a wide variety of wines. 

The most important thing on Thanksgiving is not to worry so much about "The Rule" but instead focus on the company that you are with on this fantastic holiday and express Gratitude for the friendships that we share.

The basic rule of thumb for wine is that white wine pairs well with white meat and red wine pairs well with red meat. This is super basic and there are definitely exceptions. The only problem with this is that sometimes Aunt Trudy is much better behaved at family gatherings if allowed her favorite glass of Port. And then there is that dear friend who only drinks Bud Light (yes she is a real person but we'll save her story for another day).

The main thing is not to be libatiously superior. It is to share in the day and make everyone feel as welcome as possible.

To achieve this goal we have a couple of suggestions to make your Thanksgiving Day a great success: 

1. The Guest List

Double check your guest list and confirm with everyone to make sure they are coming. 
Make a quick note of some of their favorite things so you can plan out some "Go To" discussions in advance in case you need to switch the subject quickly.

2. Manage Expectations

When checking with your guest list let them know exactly the food you are preparing and talk about what they will bring. If you don't want them to bring anything that is great but sometimes they will still show up that day with a marshmallow yam surprise and expect that to go on your table. Make sure your buffet table will only fit the dishes you have planned to serve and then cover the rest of the table with decorations. That way Aunt Trudy's creme ala blech can be left in the kitchen and she can scoop it up herself if she wants. The more people know about how the afternoon is going to go, and the more you know about what they are expecting, the smoother the day will go. 

Always have a strategy in place for when a relative is hitting your last nerve. Have a key phrase you share in advance with a spouse or trusted friend so that if either one of you says something like "Did you see Carli Lloyd's winning goal at the World Cup this year?" then your partner will know that you need to take a break from the mayhem.

3. Religious Observances

Many families celebrate Thanksgiving with a prayer or grace before the meal.  One year we celebrated with a group of friends that were from a wide variety of religious and non religious backgrounds. One friend even expressed concerns about being an overly judgey situation (not sure what was going on there but I didn't pry). So, instead of saying a prayer from the King James Bible my husband wrote a Haiku that focused on the gratitude of the day. 

4. The Toast

Another great way to say grace without worrying about your company's varied beliefs is to use someone else's words. JFK was great at quoting biblical type phrases but heck it's JFK. He is about as neutral as you can get in a crowd of Democrats / Republicans with various religious backgrounds.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.

~ JFK Thanksgiving Proclamation 1963  (written November 5, 1963 - he was assassinated later that month on November 22)

5. The Wine

Which brings us back to the wine. What wine pairs best with Turkey. On Thanksgiving day it is whatever wine is your favorite wine.

Recently we tested a wonderful Beaujolais that would work well. We also tested a Tempranillo from the Texas Hill Country that knocked our cowboyboot sox off.

Whether you like to add ice to your wine or drink iced wine or enjoy a big peppery Grenache the focus is on your company and not wielding your superiority of wine knowledge over those peons.

What doesn't pair well with your favorite wine on Thanksgiving is family confrontations. If you know there is going to be someone at your dinner who gets on your last nerve then perhaps the drink of choice should be cranberry spritzers made with cranberry juice and Pelegrino served over ice with a slice of lemon. Save a really good bottle of wine for after Aunt Trudy leaves and then have a glass with your feet up and your holiday celebration in tact.

For an actual chart of wine that pairs well with Turkey we recommend the Wine Folly guide or Snooth website.

Salut! Gratitude!

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