Basic Holiday Wine Pairing

7 things to consider before you buy


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The Geek Step

Step #4 is the geek step. You can skip this if you’d like, but this is where we get to geek out a bit. There are two basic food and wine flavor-pairing principles worth exploring here: compliment and contrast. Do you want your wine to support the flavors of your dish? In this case, the dish is going to be the star. Or, are you interested in the potential of contrasting flavors that will make the pairing itself the star? It’s a tough decision to make.

You can reach for an herbal wine to compliment your herb-infused dish, or you can grab a fruity wine to offer a distinct contrast to the savory, aromatic notes of those herbs. What works and what doesn’t is of course totally subjective, but a warning is in order. In my experience, it’s much more difficult to mess up a complimentary pairing, though the best pairings do tend to be contrasting. Decisions, decisions! For Thanksgiving, I’ve pretty much given up on geeking out since I share in a lot of the cooking responsibilities and rarely have the time to complete the geek at the table, but it is worth mentioning here.

Photo courtesy kurafire via Flickr/CC

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  • Snooth User: RLBennett
    227404 5

    Had the 2010 Llai Llai Pinot with Turkey last week and is was fabulous. Definitely doing Pinot on Turkey day!

    Nov 17, 2011 at 8:02 PM

  • Every year the same old topic. Turkey and Pinot Noir? Check. Redcurrant Jelly and Pinot Noir?
    Result: Pinot Noir.
    Pick your favourite and relax

    Nov 18, 2011 at 4:46 AM

  • Snooth User: whauptman
    864967 2

    Pinot with Turkey? I often have a robust Malbec from Argentina which usually works very well indeed. Depends a bit on the stuffing, but I have never been disappointed. Last year I made a large turkey and could not resist a Turkey Flat from Australia.

    Nov 18, 2011 at 6:22 AM

  • Three others that worked with Turkey were a good beaujolais villages, a Zinfandel - which underwrites whauptmans tip because I thought that Zin would be too alcoholic and tarry (even more so than Arg Malbec, like less subtle than Malbec, but it worked), and a Clos "de la something or other" from Priorat, Clos de l'Obac. We had a brilliant kiwi chardonnay one year but it kind of died with the red jelly and sweet potato; drop those and that combo would work. We found a pure shiraz was fighting with the food and didnt work
    Planning to try a Gevrey Chambertin 2007 this year, getting fed up looking at it and wanting to pull its cork.
    Turkey Flat make lovely wines that instantly taste Australian and I agree with any recommendations to drink them!

    Nov 18, 2011 at 6:59 AM

  • Snooth User: teddz
    880703 39

    Aaack! Can't believe that wines from Australia, Argentina or Burgundy would be contemplated for this uniquely North American holiday!! Sort of like going to Oktoberfest in Munich and asking for a Bud. I will start with crisp Gruet sparkling wine in Champagne's normal place (turned into a cranberry kir for family members who like things a little sweet), then have either an Easterrn nouveau or Oregon pinot with the bird (I find pinot works with all my favorite sides: cooked cranberries, oven roasted sweet potates; root vegetables). Have also gone with zins in the past, but the ripe,alcoholic versions are just too much on top of the rich food.

    Nov 18, 2011 at 10:20 AM

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