Wine got you worrying this Thanksgiving? Put a cork in it! Heather Munden of the St. Francis Winery has you covered, as she shares easy pairings for Turkey Day and her wine-friendly recipe for St. Francis Winery-Style Pancetta.
As a professional winemaker and designated foodie amongst friends and family, when November rolls around I field the age old question: “What wines pair best with Thanksgiving dinner?”
The answer is simple: a wide variety of wines complement Thanksgiving fare. The choice of red or white can be as easy as pie!
Thanksgiving dinner wines must pair well with a wide assortment of dishes. In my family, this includes grandma’s wacky cranberry jelly, my uncle’s French-fried green bean casserole, and mom’s beautiful oyster dressing. Wines need to work with all the idiosyncratic variations that a family brings the table. Below this short primer you'll find some of my favorites for the turkey holiday:
Bubbles - Everyone loves a little sparkling wine. It's a terrific choice because it pairs well with almost everything; appetizers or main course.
White - Thanksgiving means strong, earthy flavors so I recommend finding a white wine confident enough to live in harmony with such food. A fresh, zippy Sauvignon Blanc is a nice alternative to its lighter cousin, Pinot Grigio. An alternative is Chardonnay, a tried and true classic with both round and fresh flavors.
Red - Thanksgiving is the great American holiday, so let's pay homage to the country's only indigenous varietal: Zinfandel. At the winery, I make it from vines that are 50-100 years old, which creates beautiful a concentration that can go head to head with heavy dishes like casseroles and stuffings. Another red to explore is Syrah: deliciously robust, it will satisfy cravings for blackberry, cocoa, and spice.
Port - Please don’t forget port! Pecan pie paired with an aged tawny port is one of the most beautiful combinations I can imagine.
Don’t be shy with wine. Branch out and try new varietals. A group atmosphere is the perfect opportunity to discover something different and share it with friends and family! These are some of my favorites:
Fun - Caposaldo Prosecco ($15). Italian, affordable, and super food friendly. A great starter.
Elegant - Domaine Carneros Rosé ($35). Dry (not sweet), but with hints of strawberries. Organically farmed not too far from my house in Napa.
Different - Benziger Lake & Sonoma Counties Sauvignon Blanc ($14). Certified sustainable with notes of white peach, papaya, and zippy lime.
Classic - Domaine Ferret Pouilly-Fuisse ($32). A perfectly balanced Chardonnay with great minerality. Biodynamic too!
All American - St. Francis Sonoma County “Old Vines” Zinfandel ($23). Ripe, black cherries on the palate and made from America’s only indigenous varietal!
Hearty - St. Francis Sonoma County Syrah ($18). Robust and full bodied, while still maintaining elegance with layers of cocoa, white pepper and intense blackberry fruit.
Perfect with Pecan Pie - Taylor Fladgate 10 or 20 Year Old Tawny ($35/$55). Rich and luxurious with notes of praline and apricots. A terrific ending to a lavish meal.