Hey, Bobby! How about a little throwdown? This time, though, we’re out of the kitchen and at the dinner table. The challenge: What wines to pair with this spicy, feisty Thanksgiving feast?
I’m not sure how well Bobby’s oenological skills match his culinary ones, but regardless, I’ve got a few simple suggestions for marrying the bold flavors of his menu with some turkey-friendly wines.
The number one rule is this: Bigger flavors call for bigger wines. You already know that a thick, juicy steak deserves an equally robust red. But poultry and side dishes can be trickier. For clues on what could pair nicely, look to the sauces and spices: Are they rich, punchy and assertive, as in Bobby’s menu? If so, think along the lines of punchier, more assertive wines (reds and whites).
Seek inspiration in a few whites with pronounced flavor profiles. For Bobby’s salad, look for a Riesling or Gewürztraminer, both of which can be essentially dry but still have a bright hint of sweet fruitiness or a floral quality to them that will contrast nicely with the tangy blue cheese and walnuts. While you and your guests nosh on shrimp punctuated with garlic and chili, drink a crisp but assertive white to provide refreshment. An un-oaked Chardonnay (especially from Chablis, France) or a zingy Sauvignon Blanc (especially from New Zealand) would be great. And, of course, a nice cold beer is awesome with shrimp. To dress up your table, skip the bottles and serve beer in tall, frosty pilsner glasses.
As you move onto the main courses, take cues from Bobby’s use of pepper and fruit, and think about wines with those same flavor notes: Syrah and Pinot Noir spring readily to mind. Syrah’s inherent peppery taste and bold berry and jam notes will do you well if you usually like a full-bodied red. Australian Syrah (called Shiraz) will have more extracted, jammy fruit, whereas French Syrah (most commonly from the Rhone region) generally has a bit more pepper and earthy notes. For this menu, if you’d like a Pinot Noir (a lighter-bodied red), try something from California — showcasing bolder, riper berry notes than their French counterparts, they’ll stand up nicely to the menu’s big flavors.
For dessert, a sweet white like a late-harvest Riesling (picked later when grapes are riper, resulting in more sugar and therefore a sweeter wine) would be delightful. But since this menu is bold and fun, and Thanksgiving is a celebration — dare I say? — drink Champagne! It’s my own favorite dry wine for dessert, and some say that the bubbles help aid digestion. What better way to finish off the Turkey Day feast?
Stevie Stacionis, Wine Blogger