Thanksgiving Wine Pairing 101

For perfect Thanksgiving wines, there are some easy guidelines, backed

by science and years of tradition. However, your own taste and preference

takes precedence--if you prefer Cabernet Sauvignon with turkey or Chardonnay

with everything, then your taste buds rule!
Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Balance oils and butter fat with acidity--heavy gravies and sauces rich with butter and oil will be overwhelming with a viscous, buttery-tasting wine liked oaked Chardonnay that has gone through malolactic fermentation. The wines in our free shipping special were chosen to have crisp acidity to balance heavy food.

  • Match the texture and intensity--light and medium bodied wines go well with lighter meats, such a turkey or fish, a bold red wine would overpower the lighter foods, for example, a powerful Zinfandel overpowers delicate foods but finds its match in spicy bbq ribs. The texture of a wine matters: the mouth-feel and weight should complement the food. Medium-bodied whites such as this week's wine special will do well with soups, vegetables, rolls and turkey.

  • Look for complementary flavors--just as one squeezes a bit of lemon on fish, a crisp wine with a lemony zing will refresh your palate between bites. The slight saltiness of ham will be balanced with a wine with fruit forward taste like the Challenger Ridge Viognier.

  • Avoid known mis-matches--the science behind taste has discovered the chemical compounds behind flavors. For example, limonene in creates a citrus flavor. So, knowing some science can help us avoid some bad matches: iodine in fish reacts with tannins in red wine to give an unpleasant metallic taste. Artichokes contain cynarin that makes a wine paired with it taste cloyingly sweet, unless they are cooked in a deep-fryer, which neutralizes the cynarin--a good reason to pair them with a robust, tannic Sangiovese. Other traditionally avoided pairings are dry wines with very sweet foods which will make them taste bitter, herbal or grassy wines like Sauvignon Blanc with red meats, and Cabernet Sauvignon with white meats.

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