It's almost time for the Main Event: Thanksgiving, the kickoff to a month of serious overeating and drinking. I'm not complaining - who doesn't love an opportunity to stuff themselves silly, knowing it's socially acceptable to go back for seconds, even thirds? And go in for the dessert round? Not this gal.
The wine for the Big Meal tends to cause a lot of anxiety, though, as the variety of dishes doesn't lend itself to any clear-cut pairing. To help you breathe a little easier (well, that and unbuttoning your pants after the five types of pie you just "took a bite of"), here are a few suggestions. Before diving in though, I want to reiterate my mantra: Drink What You Like. You're not going to enjoy any meal if you're drinking a wine that doesn't please your palate. If you wouldn't normally enjoy a certain type of wine, you sure as hell are going to hate it when you're consuming it with a buffet of flavor profiles. It will all clash, trust me.
Gruner Vetliner is a really accessible white that is often used as an alternative to Pinot Grigio. Crisp, medium bodied, apple and citrus notes, a little bit of tropical fruit, decent acidity - this wine can work with a variety of dishes.
Another varietal that can work across the board is an Albarino. This Spanish white has the ripe apple and citrus fruits but can display a bit of peachiness too. Again, its zesty and medium-bodied so it doesn't get lost amongst all the bites.
You can't go wrong with a Grenache-dominant Cote du Rhone. It's juicy berry flavors, tempered with some spice from a Syrah, along with it's medium-bodied style, plays well with the turkey as much as a cranberry sauce.
Pinot Noir is also a classic choice for the feast, particularly New World producers. They tend to be a bit more fruit-forward than their French counterparts, but still retain the same light-bodied structure and overt earthy tones.
But there's more! The great thing about this year is that the first night of Chanukah falls on Thanksgiving. That's right, I'm trading in my mashed potatoes for latkes, dinner rolls for challah bread and salad for matzoh ball soup. Is this a drinking game-changer? Not at all; in fact, it's an enhancement. Because what goes best with fried potatoes?
Seriously, one of the best things to pair with fries, and therefore potato pancakes, is champers. The yeasty, toasty notes of champagne (or champagne-style sparkling wines) balances well with the salty oiliness of the dish. Throw some lox or salmon roe on top of those 'cakes and we have ourselves a party!
Or, if you're feeling particularly religious, there's always Manischewitz....