The Best Wines To Go With The Bird
You've got your menu planned, the guest list long finalized, and your table setting all mapped out, but what about the wine? With the array of flavors on most Thanksgiving tables — tangy cranberry sauce, candy-sweet yams, savory stuffings, rich mashed potatoes, and the mild gaminess of turkey — it's a challenge to come up with just one wine to go with everything, and to please every drinker.
My suggestion: Choose at least one white and one red, stick to wines that won't break the bank (most of my recommendations go for less than $20), and forget about pleasing everyone.
For Your White:
Try a Riesling. This white wine tends to have a hint of sweetness (ask for an off-dry bottle) that will complement similar flavors in dishes — think fruit-studded stuffing or sweet potatoes — instead of clashing. Their acidity also nicely balances out richness and salt, and if your cornbread has a little heat from some chiles or you make our chipotle-spiced turkey, Riesling will work nicely with it as well.
For Your Red:
Beaujolais wines from France are made from the Gamay grape and tend to be fresh tasting, juicy and lightweight. They're excellent with food, especially poultry. While Beaujolais Nouveau (the newly bottled wine from the current vintage) is inexpensive and widely available, it's worth taking a step or two up in complexity: try a Beaujolais Villages or even one of the Cru Beaujolais (wines from specific areas in the region, such as Morgon, Brouilly, etc.). They're a bit more money but offer more nuanced flavors as well.
For Your Sparkling:
Spanish Cavas, Italian Proseccos, and Crémants from France are all good choices — bubbles are fun! — especially if you don't want to spring for a bottle of Champagne. Their fizziness and acidity are good palate cleansers for rich foods like our creamy potatoes. A sparkling rosé wouldn't be a bad idea either.
Important Note: This is not the time to try that bottle with 16% alcohol — it'll put everyone to sleep before you even leave the table. Try to stick to those that are no more than 13% alcohol by volume (often listed as ABV on the label). Rieslings, especially those that are off-dry as opposed to dry, often have ABVs of 10% or lower.
And don't forget that the staff at your neighborhood wine shop is there to help. If you don't see any wines from the producers above, ask for something similar in your price range. They'll hook you up without any undue stress. That's something you'll be thankful for.