It's that time of year again. Pumpkins are being turned into pie, turkeys are about to be defrosted, families are planning on being together, and everyone needs to get some holiday hooch. But what are you supposed to pair with all of the dishes and the turkey? No need to fear, your Windy City Wine Guy is on the case.
Now, pairings for this holiday can be difficult, considering the wide array of flavors and dishes involved. Not only are there savory choices such as mashed potatoes & gravy and stuffing, but there are also sweet dishes such as cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Then there's the turkey. The crackling tasty skin, the moist and dense breast meat, and the salty, fattier dark meat. All of this makes a perfect pairing almost impossible, but that's why you try multiple beverages!
and white meat: I can't help it, but I love this varietal with poultry. The nose is quite intense, with floral aromatics, and leads to a full on citrus party. Heavy meyer lemon and grapefruit appear on the palate, along with rich honey and pineapple. Fortunately, this wine can be found for around $15.
2007 Argiolas Perdera and dark meat: For dark meat poultry, you must have a wine with some body and a bit of spice, and this one has both. Made mostly (90%) from the
varietal in Sardegna, this wine is packed with cherry goodness, black pepper, licorice, and bittersweet chocolate flavors. The tannins are firm and supple. Can be had for $14. I also like
, a mix of 60% Malbec, 20% Bonarda, and 20% Syrah. It has weight, color, tannins, and spice, and a $14 pricetag. Nice.
Pinot Noir can be an excellent wine to have with this holiday, as most are approachable, light and fruity, not without spicy components. I love the 2007
Bingo Cuvee ($19.99), not only for it's jammy fruit, but also for the earthy, mushroomy aroma. Also, a great value Pinot Noir made by
, their 2008 Acrobat, is light, fruity, spicy, and available for under $15. A couple of alternative light reds are the 2007 Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno ($11.99), for red fruit, spiciness, and tobacco, and the 2008 Valle Reale "Vigne Nuove" Montelpulciano d'Abruzzo ($12.99). This wine is made from grapes which face the hot sun on the Adriatic coast, grown from the cuttings of 40+ year old vines. It is not only an easy drink, but also adds minerality and concentrated fruit.
Another varietal not to be missed is Chardonnay, as a weighty white wine can make it through the meal. The Clara Benegas Chardonnay ($9.99) is another great value from
, as it combines rich pear, caramel apple, and mango, with a hint of vanilla.
For the big red lovers, I recommend a trip
. The 2005 Pretty Sally is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and 37% Shiraz. Full bodied and full of both dark fruit and spice: cumin, pepper, and baking spice. Great value for $17.99. I am also a fan of the 2006 Cimicky "Trumps" Shiraz ($18.99) for its dark flavor, smokiness, and excellent length. Also, stay down under for your
, as I recommend
($14.99). Great acidity accompanies honey sweetness and a slight sherbert flavor. Kind of different from an Italian version, but really good.
No party would be complete without a sparkling wine, not to mention they are usually the most versatile beverage in your arsenal. The
($14.99) is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from South Africa. It's full, creamy, and reminds me of lemon meringue pie.
I also gotta have some beer, and pumpkin ale is on my list. The
out of Akron, Ohio, is festively full of flavor: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and pumpkin pie blast in your mouth. A great pumpkin beer.
If all of this isn't good enough, you can go back to my
, or my
. Either way, I hope you get the most out of these pairings, and have a Happy Thanksgiving! Let me know how those worked out for you.