What is the perfect pairing for Thanksgiving dinner? With so many different flavors and textures being served together on one dinner table, that is a tough question to answer. I asked a few Sommeliers and Beverage Professionals from around Chicago for their recommendations on what they like to pour on Turkey Day. Here is what they came up with:
Alex Ring @Alaxandar – Certified Sommelier at Spiaggia:
Weingut Knoll Smaragd Gruner Veltliner 2013, Wachau Austria
To say Thanksgiving is all about turkey would shortchange the best holiday for vegetables. For brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole, I love Smaragd GV’s flavors of rich, honeyed stone fruits and its peppery, herbaceous finish.
Cascina dele Rose “A Elizabeth” Dolcetto d’Alba 2012, Piedmont Italy
Refreshing and straightforward, but lacking neither complexity nor straight-up deliciousness. Notes of cranberry, dried rose petals, and spice fit in perfectly with all your of family’s favorite dishes. Plus, with it’s lighter weight, an extra glass or two won’t send you spiraling into your food induced nap before the pie is served.
Fernando Betata @Fernandobetata – Master Sommelier, Education Director for Tenzing W&S:
Every Thanksgiving, I look forward to opening special wines and sharing with my friends and family. I try to always change the wines each year. This year I will be pairing Turkey with Syrah.
Domaine Gramenon, Sierra du Sud 2012, Côtes du Rhône, France
While this producer mainly focuses on Grenache, as they are located in the Southern Rhône, this Syrah is a specialty. The word “Sierra” is a play on the word “Syrah”, mentioning that it is coming from the south. Lots of black pepper spice, grilled meats and olive aromas with soft texture on the palate.
Arnot-Roberts North Coast Syrah 2013, California
Childhood friends that are making cool climate syrah in California, attempting to make world-class wines in a short amount of time. Forget big, fat, warm-climate wine, this has high acid, purple flowers and fresh, pure minerality. The oak is delicate and seamless, allowing this to pair excellent with food.
Man O’ War “The Dreadnaught” Syrah 2012, Waiheke Island New Zealand
Once you taste how good New Zealand Syrah can get, it makes you seek out more producers making wines like this. Outside Gimblet Gravels, Waiheke is the place for cool-climate Syrah. There is plenty of sunshine, don’t get me wrong,
allowing this wine to be inky, black, thick and layered, but elegant and perplexing at the same time. Black pepper in cool vintages, licorice and anise occasionally. Interested to see what will be in this bottle.
Jordyn Sotello @JordynEliece – Certified Sommelier at MK Restaurant:
My mom loves red wine. Big red wine that usually costs less than a hamster, and more oaky than an oak forest. This wine has been a perfect find that has surprised and pleased the north of us! My Grandfather still puts ice in his glass… working on that ;) An absolute guilty pleasure the last couple years (and again this year).
Luna Beberide “Daniel” Mencia 2003, Bierzo Spain
Grapes come from a selection of the best parcels of vineyards owned by Luna Beberide’s family. A terrific example of Bierzo, this 100% Mencia has a gorgeous nose of violets, blueberries, raspberries, and cherries; undertones of smoke, spices and subtle vanilla. Elegant, with good acidity, fabulous density, this is gorgeously structured.
Paul Cade @BrokenNoseCider – Head Cider Maker at Broken Nose Cider:
Broken Nose “Bog City” Cranberry Cider 2015, Chicago Illinios
The cider that I am most interested in drinking during Thanksgiving is Broken Nose’s Bog City. Bog City is a cranberry cider fermented to the point where there are no sugars left, meaning it is completely dry. The cranberry not only brings a deep red color, it also adds acidity and tannins to the cider. The tartness from the acid and drying astringent effect from the tannins also makes this cider perfect for sipping while enjoying a rich meal. The best part of drinking this cider on Thanksgiving is it will give you an excuse to skip the traditional can shaped cranberry sauce! Happy Thanksgiving!
Ryan Baldwin @TheRottenNoble – Education Director at Blue Crane Imports:
For me, I use Thanksgiving as a way to showcase a couple wines that my family isn’t very familiar with. Whether it be from a region they haven’t encountered or a varietal they haven’t tried. Here is what I’m excited to pour this year:
Creation Viognier 2013, Walker Bay South Africa
It is no secret that I have a strong affection for Viognier. This grape is totally underrated in its food pairing ability. It has great acidity, a rich texture, with ripe stone fruit and violet floral aromatics. The 2013 Creation Viognier is a totally unoaked, which accentuates the acidity and fruit structure. During fermentation in stainless steel, the wine is matured on its lees for 4-5 months, which gives it a rich and creamy mouth feel. This wine has it all and I know it will make a lasting impression at the dinner table.
Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir 2013, Elgin South Africa
This wine is a fantastic example of what South Africa can do with a cool climate varietal like Pinot Noir. The fruit is sourced from high elevation vineyards grown on sandstone soils from Elgin (which has the coolest temperatures in the Western Cape). This is most certainly not like those Sonoma Coast or Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs, this is a South African take on the wines of Chambolle-Musigny. This Pinot Noir has a light ruby color, tart cranberry, wild strawberry, and sea spray aromas (or tidal pool as Cathy would call it). All of which are supported by mouth watering acidity and a defined mineral backbone. Pinot Noir may be one of the best food pairing wines out there. It rides the line between red wine and white wine characteristics, and pairs well with almost any protein. This Catherine Marshall wine packs all the punch of the greatest red burgundy for a fraction of the price. I look forward to sharing this wine with my friends and family!
Thank you to everyone who contributed a recommendation for this blog post! You are all true professionals and I am confident that your selections will be a big hit on Thanksgiving Day. Please be safe and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
-From the team at Blue Crane Imports.