Wines for Thanksgiving

Not sure what wines to serve at your Thanksgiving feast? Our wine columnist Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach has some answers. Photo:

Easton, Md., October 19, 2011 — For people that love food and wine, Thanksgiving just might be the perfect holiday. It is the one time of year we assemble where it’s about dining and thankfully no major gift giving is involved.

The traditional meal in our house consists of the infamous turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and if maybe some green bean casserole to round out the plate. There are so many different dishes in one meal it may seem like finding a wine that pairs with everything is as likely as balancing the budget.

On Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’s Special they don’t have to worry about wine pairings.

The good news is it’s not impossible. Here are some of the best wine pairing candidates for your turkey day feast. As far as the budget goes we’ll leave that to Washington.

Sparkling wines are great way to start your turkey dinner especially if they have a touch of sweetness or at least ample fruit. This allows them to stand up to the spices and herbs that are found in most of the dishes. Try a Champagne or sparkler that is not Brut or bone dry. Extra Dry styles are the next step up in sweetness and you can find great examples in many price ranges from Italy, France, Spain or California. One of my personal favorites is Italian Prosecco. Made in the Veneto region of northeast Italy, Prosecco has fruit flavors of apple and citrus and many are semi-sparkling (less bubbly) making them softer as well as food friendly.

There are several types of white wine that have both the fruit and acid to handle a Thanksgiving feast. My favorites include Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris and Viognier. You can find great domestic wines that fit this bill or if you are feeling adventurous look to France, South Africa or Australia. If you cannot bear to be without Chardonnay, try a lighter unoaked style from California, Australia or New Zealand. These will usually say unoaked, unwooded or virgin on the bottle to indicate they are not aged in oak barrels. These Chardonnay have fresher fruit flavors and retain more food friendly acidity than the bigger oaky styles.

Don’t forget red wine. According to recent studies by the Wine Market Council red wine is preferred by 60% of wine drinkers so you’d better have some red wine options at the table. Fortunately there are several reds that will be a great addition to your Thanksgiving festivities. Pinot Noirs are a great option because they not only have great fruit flavors but enough acidity to stand up to the salt and acids found in many of the Thanksgiving dishes. Syrah and Zinfandel are also good choices with jammy fruit and a touch of spice to complement the flavors on your plate. Zinfandel is a California specialty but you might look to its Italian relative Primitivo for a change of pace. If you want to spice things up try a Syrah (aka Shiraz) from California, Washington, Australia or the Rhone Valley in France.

To add something new to this year’s dinner start with a sparkling wine to loosen everyone u and then serve several white and red wines with the meal. Then everyone can compare how each wine pairs with the various side dishes as well as the Turkey. It adds a modern twist to your traditional meal!

Try these wine to liven up your Thanksgiving feast:

Canella Prosecco NV, Veneto, Italy

Made from Prosecco grapes, these sparklers from the Veneto region of Italy are made in a variety of styles from frizzante, which in Italian means slightly sparkling, to fully sparkling like Champagne. Prosecco tends to be fruitier than Champagne or other dry sparklers making it more accepted by a wine range of wine and beer lovers. Fruity, but dry, this lively wine is the perfect way to start off your Thanksgiving feast. For those of you who like things sweet, add a touch of peach nectar to a Prosecco, and you have what’s called a Bellini. Retails for $19.99

Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and refreshing and goes with so many different dishes especially salads, appetizers, white meats and seafood. Some of the best New World Sauvignon Blancs come from New Zealand specifically the Marlborough region. New Zealand is made up of two islands; Marlborough is in the northern part of the south island. This wine has lively acidity and aromas of herbs, grapefruit and passion fruit. The fruit flavors along with its crisp acidity will help this wine stand up to all your turkey sides. Retails for $14.99

Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

Jim Bernau, owner and founder of Willamette Valley Vineyards, is obsessed with making the best Pinot Noir that the Willamette Valley can deliver. The Whole Cluster Pinot Noir uses a process similar to that in Beaujolais, France delivering a softer wine that has aromas much like that a fresh fruit berry salad. The balance of fruit, acidity and structure in this wine make this a perfect accompaniment to your Thanksgiving meal. Retail $19.99

Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach®, is a wine educator, author of the award-winning book The Sipping Point and host of a weekly radio show by the same name on WBAL 1090AM. Her specialty is delivering wine edu-tainment for corporate events, group tastings and team-building seminars. She is also a sought after guest expert on radio shows across the country, including Martha Stewart Radio. You can reach her on twitter @thewinecoach or on Facebook at

Read more of Laurie’s work at The Sipping Point in the Communities at the Washington Times.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Laurie Forster

Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach® is a wine educator, dynamic speaker and author of the award-winning book The Sipping Point: A Crash Course in Wine. Laurie was not born with a silver corkscrew in her mouth. In fact, growing up Laurie thought wine was pink and came in a box. After several stressful business dinners trying to order off wine lists the size of a phone book, she began educating herself on wine. In 2001 she left the business world to professionally study wine and save others from these awkward moments. Laurie began her wine career in Manhattan where she studied with the American Sommelier Association to earn her certificate in Viticulture and Vinification. She has since earned an Advanced Certificate with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), completed her first step towards certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers and has trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. Laurie’s specialty is creating unique corporate keynotes, team building events and group tasting seminars where she can deliver on her mission to demystify wine one glass at a time. She is also a regular contributor to several magazines; a sought after guest expert on TV and radio stations across the country, including Martha Stewart Radio. For more visit:

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