Wines for the Thanksgiving Table


By Jeb Fiorita and Peter Olson

The leaves are falling – or mostly fallen – in what has seemed like a very quick autumn. It is time for families to make the trek to share thanks over a holiday table and to settle in from waist band expansion and football afterward.

In our house, once the turkey goes in the oven pre-dawn, and we then somehow rouse the children who once woke us up, the myriad other food tasks, fire prep, silver polishing and other Thanksgiving Day activities begin. My wife, who absolutely loves this holiday and makes it the best one possible, grudgingly makes my childhood midwestern favorite green bean casserole replete with the fried onions that make her nose crinkle up a bit every time. Where her and my oldest daughter’s attention are in the kitchen, I then turn my attention to the bar…making sure all the necessary beverages are present. If you read our last article and you are in that fall mood, you know my eye alights almost immediately to the Bourbon.

However, that is not my focus today. For while bourbon makes a lovely Thanksgiving sip pre-feast, we all know that no Thanksgiving meal is complete without just the right bottle (or two, three) of wine. Maybe you are a tried and true Beaujolais Nouveau person. Good news, this fruity favorite that is typically released from France on the third Thursday in November, reaches our store just in time to be the start of your table.
Maybe you prefer a Pinot Noir, Zinfandel or a Syrah. Don’t leave whites out either – a Riesling,

Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gigot may compliment your appetizers as well as your meal. The best advice we can give is to have options! And whatever you do, do not forget that always in the fridge and ready to go…a bottle or two of champagne or Prosecco!

While cocktails are nice during appetizers (my favorite being a Frosty Dawn), there is no reason at all, that you cannot start with wine right away. And a nice round of white before red with dinner can get things started at a nice pace. You don’t have to break the bank here either – for example Cloudy Bay and Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc are two fine examples of warm, citrus flavors that add nice to the warmth of connecting with family and the wonderful aromas teasing of the feast to come.

Rieslings from Alsace, Germany or Washington state are great options and come in varieties that range from the dry to the somewhat sweet. They may be a bit heavy for appetizers, but their apple, apricot and honey flavors pair wonderfully with yams and stuffing. We suggest Schloss Vollrads Riesling for your table. This Rheingau regional favorite has a medium sweet easygoing flavor with a hint of grapefruit and lemon.
If you are looking for a neutral white, a Pinot Grigio may be just what you need. It pairs very well with garlic, onions, herbs and rich, high-fat content dishes and Thanksgiving is just that kind of holiday. Villa Ponzi is s Sicilian wine with aromas of lemon, peach and pear and finishes with a hint of fruit and flowers.
The reds offer a fine compliment to almost anything that you serve for Thanksgiving and right at the top of many people’s list you will find a Pinot Noir. The balance of fruit and spice pair perfectly with turkey, vegetables and stuffing. I would strongly recommend Ironside Pinot Noir Reserve produced in the Monterey area of California.

If you are looking for a bit of intensity, you may want to travel the Zinfandel route instead. We would suggest you give Seghesio a try. With a bold spicy flavor including raspberry and blueberry, the balance of these components will definitely enhance your meal.

That gets us through dinner, but what about the dessert that seals the food coma that leads to nap this distant ref whistles and kids flitting around the back yard? I happen to have a taste for very sweet and crisp wines. My favorites would have to be any ice wine from the Finger Lakes region of New York. Moscato is another option when it comes to a white wine option.

Finally, no discussion of Thanksgiving libations would be complete without touching on port. I credit my father in law, John, for my introduction to the love of wine, port and signature cocktails. My favorite ports include Graham’s Six Grapes and Taylor Fladgate, but we have a host of other options as well.

As always, Jeb and the team at Val’s Wine and Spirits on Putnam and in Glenville are here to walk you through your selections for what to serve at Thanksgiving. Bring your shopping list or menu and we can walk through it together and get you set for the best feast ever!

In case you are in the mood for a Frosty Dawn, here is the recipe.
2 oz. Light Rum
1 oz. Falernum (Syrup Liqueur)
1 oz Luxardo Cherry Liqueur
4 oz Orange Juice (fresh squeezed)
Garnish with an orange slice
Adjust amounts to personal taste

Have a happy Thanksgiving holiday! We will catch with you in December with some wonderful holiday gifting ideas.

By Jeb Fiorita and Peter Olson. Jeb is the owner of Val’s Putnam Wines & Liquors. Peter is a lover of bourbons, fine wines, and spirits.

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