For the most celebrated meal of the year, enjoy the Thanksgiving trifecta of riesling, rosé and pinot noir.
These three wines — the three primary colors of the wine rainbow — best pair with the conventional Thanksgiving meal.
How does a white, rosé and a red all pair? First the notion that a white and red can’t pair with the same dish is a fallacy. The same characteristics that make the meal so appealing to so many also make it easy to pair with a range of wines.
And rosé, well, rosé goes with everything. If you plan on having more than two or three people from your circle of trust over for dinner and if you aren’t sure of their preferences, a bottle of each of those three styles of wine will probably find a fan. I’m a patriot on Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday. I’m only drinking American. (Except for port with pie.)
The Finger Lakes is one of the world’s leading riesling regions. I found Pennsylvania stores have some well-regarded Finger Lakes rieslings — but of the 2017 vintage. Dry riesling tends to hold up longer than a typical white. They may be worth a try, but remain a bit of a gamble.
The benchmark Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars 2019 Riesling Finger Lakes smells of mineral and acacia flower with delicate flavors of apricot combined with chalkiness and a hint of lime with a clean mouthwatering finish. White wine drinkers won’t tire of it. $16. ♦♦♦♦ 1/2
If you want some sweetness, Dr. Frank’s semi-dry is also available. It shows some peach and apple. Other wines you can enjoy include viognier, albariño, pinot gris or chenin blanc. Pro-tip: Pennsylvania rieslings are often just as good as Finger Lakes, so don’t overlook the local winery.
Milbrandt Vineyards 2018 Rosé Columbia Valley, Washington, offers notes of cherry and rhubarb with a hint of pie crust on a sumptuous texture and clean finish. At this price, this is ideal for the pre-game through the meal. $8. ♦♦♦♦
Bernardus is one of the most reliable pinot noir producers in the Santa Lucia Highlands. It’s defined as a “cherry pie” pinot noir. Bernardus 2017 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir captures that without exploiting it, with smells of warm baking spice and flavors of stewed cherries, earthiness and oak spice with light tannins. This can be the class of the main course or a host gift. $20. ♦♦♦♦ 1/2
If you want a substitute, go with light reds. Chianti and its Tuscan variations are good choices as are the Beaujolais villages or cru Beaujolais.
Given the broad range of wine you can have for Thanksgiving, it is better to know what to avoid. Avoid high-alcohol, tannic reds such as most zinfandels and cabernet sauvignon, which will overpower the mild tasting bird. Also, you want to avoid sweet wines. Sweet wine drinkers would do well with semi-dry riesling or chenin blanc, but generally, sugary wines won’t be a pairing. Also, you don’t want oak, so that buttery chardonnay may have to wait for another time.
In the end, forget the rules. In 2020, you should enjoy what you like and be thankful to be here, in-person or virtually, with people you love and care about.
GRADE: Exceptional ♦♦♦♦♦, Above average ♦♦♦♦, Good ♦♦♦, Below average ♦♦, Poor ♦