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Two Women on Wine: Thanksgiving wines, part one

Start with the lighter wines to suit the menu

Posted: November 6, 2009 10:02 a.m.
Updated: November 6, 2009 10:00 a.m.
Lil Lepore and Shari FrazierTwo Women on Wine Lil Lepore and Shari FrazierTwo Women on Wine
Lil Lepore and Shari FrazierTwo Women on Wine
Hard to believe Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Ah, the wonderful tastes, textures and aromas of Thanksgiving dinner! It makes your mouth water just thinking about it. But how do you choose the right wine to complement such a wide array of delicious comfort foods? Although Thanksgiving is a traditional holiday, your wine doesn't need to be traditional.

Thanksgiving is such a family-centered, large meal that any discussion on what wines to serve requires a two-part discussion. Typically, you want to serve wines from light-to-dark, similar to menu planning that starts with delicate tastes and works toward heavier tastes as the courses progress. We will discuss white and sparkling wines in this article, with a full discussion on red wine parings to follow in two weeks.

Pairing wine with food should be based on personal likes and dislikes and will vary for each person at your table. We offer the following merely as a guideline to get you started.

As guests arrive, why not start them off with a sparkling wine, such as champagne or Italian Prosecco. Lighter than a cocktail, it pairs well with starters like soup and salad, not to mention putting everyone in a festive mood. Almonds are a good complementary food, and the higher acidity in the wine even allows it to be paired with heavier, starchier foods like potatoes and turkey with dressing. Sparkling wine is also a nice palate cleanser between eating the different varieties of food offered during the main meal.
Chardonnay pairs well with corn, including creamed corn and creamed onions. Roast turkey with gravy, turducken and turkey dark meat are also good complementary foods.

Another excellent choice is a Gewürztraminer (guh-VURTS-trah-MEE-ner). The name may be hard to spell and pronounce, but it's easy to drink. Its flavor profile can be dry or sweet and its heady, aromatic scent makes it work particularly well with strongly flavored foods, including strong cheeses and pungent cheese dishes. Cranberry sauce, squash, sweet potatoes and turkey pair well with this wine.

Or, try a Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio in Italian). Depending on origin, Pinot Gris ranges from light and crisp to rich and full-bodied, with delicate, floral aromas and flavors. Pinot Gris goes well with liver pate appetizers, as well as turkey at the main table.

Riesling grapes, which are grown in cooler regions throughout the world, produce wines from bone dry to sweet, with flowery aromas, depending on geography. Because Rieslings have a good balance of sugar and acidity, they are versatile and can stand up to strong flavors and spices. Carrots, chestnut stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, white meat turkey, turducken and pumpkin pie go well with this all-around wine.

Viognier or Vionnier (pronounced vee-oh-NYAY) grapes once grew only in France's Rhone region, but today do well in California. They make an intense, highly aromatic and fruity dry wine that stands up well to flavorful food, such as turkey with all the trimmings.

Whether you select one wine to carry you through the entire meal, or a number of wines to complement your appetizers, main dishes and desserts, there is no right or wrong choice. Look beyond the traditional wines this year and don't be afraid to experiment. Try something new and have fun! And remember, we'll introduce some fabulous reds in our next column just in time for the big day.

Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier are owners of Vino 100 in Valencia, a unique specialty wine store offering boutique, handcrafted wines from small, artisan vineyards, as well as a large selection of gifts and accessories. Daily tastings, weekly specials and monthly events. Visit Vino 100 located at 28112 Newhall Ranch Road in the HighRidge Crossing Center at the corner of Copper Hill Drive in Valencia. (661) 294-6886,


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