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Be wine wise at Thanksgiving

Take care while selecting wines to go with the complex flavors of the meal

The host spends hours in the kitchen making the Thanksgiving Day meal. Make sure you bring wines that will complement the complex flavors.
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You may have gotten out of making the turkey, but now you’ve been tasked with an unlikely difficult job: picking the wines for the Thanksgiving table.

Don’t take this task lightly. It’s not as easy as just picking up your usual choices of white and red wines. You need to think about the Thanksgiving meal and the complex flavors that go with it. No matter how you cook it — deep fried, smoked, traditional methods in the oven — the turkey is a dry bird that doesn’t have much fat. You also need to consider all of the side dishes like stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. Your best bet is to go with lighter, crisper wines, so leave the chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon at home for this meal.

No matter how you cook your Thanksgiving Day turkey, it is a dry bird and should be paired with a lighter, crisper wine.
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“A chenin blanc or a gewurztraminer go really well as far as white wine goes and syrah and pinot noir are great choices for red wines on Thanksgiving Day,” said Kevin Lawrence, proprietor of Vail Fine Wines in Vail Village.



Riesling may also be a good white wine choice to pair with this flavorful meal, but make sure you choose a dry wine so it is not too sweet. Rosé wine can also work well with the meal because it has the crispness of a white but the complexity of a red.

Another good red to think about is a gamay from the Beaujolais region in France. The Beaujolais nouveau wines were just released and are supposed to be consumed within a few months. This wine goes well with charcuterie boards in case you know that will be one of the appetizers.

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“I also like lighter, rustic reds like a Spanish tempranillo,” Lawrence said.

In addition to pinot noir and Beaujolais nouveau, Kieran Kelley of Alpine Wines and Spirits suggests a barbera, sangiovese or zinfandel.

“For white wine, if you do really want a chardonnay, go for something with less oak, more of a Burgundian style,” Kelley said.



If you have some beer lovers at the table, Lawrence suggests that you go with a dunkel or a barrel-aged ale. Bring a nice stout, European pilsner or Kolsch-style beer.

“I would suggest an IPA because it is heavier and pairs well with turkey, or get a Vail Brewing Company Hot Mess Blonde Ale,” Kelley said.

When in doubt, bring bubbles to the Thanksgiving Day feast.
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Another tip from the pros, when in doubt, bring bubbles.

“I like prosecco, sparkling wine or Champagne and I would go for more of a brut style for Thanksgiving,” Kelley said.

The Thanksgiving meal usually has several desserts, so pair a tawny port or Madeira with the pumpkin or apple pie.

“I like Graham’s or a Taylor Fladgate tawny port,” Kelley said. “You could also serve a single malt whiskey with dessert or a Fernet Branca, which is a digestive.”

There is usually quite the array of desserts at the Thanksgiving meal. Pair the sweets with a tawny port or a single malt whiskey.
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Take this opportunity to learn a little bit more about how wine pairs with food and educate other guests about your selection process and you will be a hit at any Thanksgiving Day feast. Pay attention to your favorite liquor store’s hours on Thanksgiving and shop early for the best selection.  


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