Thanksgiving can be one of the biggest wine food pairing challenges of the year! Thanksgiving is such a feast of diverse tastes and textures that served family style, all at once. It would be nice if one wine would pair with the myriad of dishes spread upon on your table. If that is your goal, go for champagne! Champagne is the default wine pairing for most foods. Trevari Cellars has some of the best sparkling wines in Washington state, I especially like the Sparkling Gewürztraminer on a Thanksgiving table.
I prefer to have a couple of wines with my Thanksgiving dinner but some wines are definitely better matches for traditional Thanksgiving dishes than others. I made up a sample Thanksgiving dinner and put 5 Washington wines to the test. Each of the 5 wines paired well with at least 3 of the Thanksgiving dishes and was a fail on at least one. If you have two wine glasses in front of you, as I usually do, you could almost always find a sip of wine to enhance your food.
- Hogue Cellars Gewürztraminer 2014
Lychee and citrus notes on the nose, a tease of sweetness on the tip of the tongue but this Gewürztraminer is surprisingly dry. Suggested retail price $10
- DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc 2013
Grassy meadows, herbs, citrus and a trace of pineapple grace this clean, crisp wine with a mineral finish. Suggested retail price $38
- L’Ecole Chardonnay 2014
Tart green apple lead the nose and tongue on this medium bodied Chardonnay. Nice acidity and great mouth feel. Suggested retail price $24
- Northwest Wine Academy Rosé 2014
This bone dry rosé is bouquet of herbs with a hint of strawberries and lemon zest. Suggested retail price $18.75
- Five Stars Cellars Syrah 2012
Dark and dried fruit dominate this jammy Syrah. Suggested retail price $34.
- Roast Turkey Breast w/ chili rub and orange juice basting
- Cranberry-Orange Relish
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts w/ Red Grapes & Bacon
- Stuffing Balls
- Garlicky Mashed Potatoes
- Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes w/Ginger Almond Topping
Thanksgiving Food and Wine Challenge
The upfront fruitiness will help hide a slightly over cooked turkey breast which happens way too often. I really appreciated this wine for the drier ends of my turkey breast. This wine also stood up to the cranberry orange sauce, maintaining most of its luscious fruit. The Brussels sprouts tasted a bit less bitter but the sprouts gave the wine a slightly bitter after taste. The garlicky potatoes were neither enhanced nor diminished by the Hogue Gewurtztraminer. The buttery stuffing balls made the Hogue Gewürtztraminer feel crisper and more tart in a refreshing manner. Although there is very little brown sugar dusting the almonds on the sweet potato topping, this Washington Gewürtztraminer is too dry and tastes very bitter when paired with this dish.
DeLille Chaleur Estate Blanc
The Chaleur Estate is delicious with the turkey, enhancing the flavor of both bird and wine. The fruit and acidity of Chaleur Estate White Bordeaux blend has no problem pairing with the cranberry orange relish. Although Sauvignon Blanc is traditionally the only wine that will pair with Brussels Sprouts, and this wine is 65% Sauvignon Blanc, it still
picked up some additional bitterness from the Brussels sprouts. The Chaleur Estate brought out the herbs in the stuffing balls very nicely. The garlic and green onions in the mashed potato were a little too strong for clean, crisp and elegant white Bordeaux blend. The sweet potato just way too sweet for this wine.
The L’Ecole Chardonnay is crisp and clean, excellent to pair with your white meat turkey. It has enough body and mouth feel that it should stand up well to dark meat cuts as well. Although the Chardonnay has excellent acidity, it such a contrast to the cranberry orange relish that it makes a poor pairing. The relish leaves the Chardonnay tasting acrid and bitter. The buttery stuffing balls are made to pair with Chardonnay, even crisp ones like this one from L’Ecole. The stuffing ball tastes bigger and more flavorful after a sip of this wine.
Both the L’Ecole Chardonnay and the garlicky mashed potatoes win here. The potatoes seem creamier and more integrated while the Chardonnay is a refreshingly crisp palate cleanser for your next mouth of luscious spuds! The Chardonnay did not change the taste of the sweet potatoes and, surprisingly, the sweet potatoes did little to alter the finish on this medium bodied wine.
Northwest Wine Academy Rosé
The NW Wine Academy Rosé is tasty with turkey, working well with both white and dark meats. This desert dry rosé is too dry for the tart sweetness of the cranberry orange relish, this is NOT a marriage made in heaven. The Brussel Sprouts continued to be a challenging pairing with the rosé , even if the sprout was paired with bacon or grape. The Provencal style of this rosé is well suited to the herbs in the stuffing balls, making an excellent pairing. Both the wine and the stuffing balls are enhanced. The rosé and potatoes were a neutral pairing, neither enhanced nor diminished. The sweet potatoes made the rosé slightly bitter on the finish, due to it being so dry.
Five Star Cellars Syrah
Syrah can be a little big for your white meat depending how it is prepared. I used a chili based dry rub and my breast meat stood up fine to this fruit forward Syrah. The dark meat of your turkey may really appreciate the bolder notes of a red wine on the Thanksgiving table. Cranberry orange relish is not this jammy Syrah’s friend. Take a moment to enjoy it on its own. The same thing with your Brussel Sprouts. Make sure you get a bite of bacon before your next sip of Syrah to make friends again with Syrah. Syrah LOVES bacon. The Five Star Cellars Syrah did wonderful things to the stuffing balls. They tasted more earthy and buttery and sumptuous. Whereas the stuffing balls brought out more of the fruit in the Syrah. The Syrah was neutral with both the garlicky and the sweet potatoes, neither enhanced nor diminished.