Perfect Match for Thanksgiving

Mon, Sep 12, 22

Perfect Match for Thanksgiving

So, let’s talk Turkey. Literally. Pinot Noir and Beaujolais are the perfect red wines for Thanksgiving. I have been getting this question for 30+ years and everyone wants to push a big overoaked, young California Cabernet Sauvignon onto the table. As far as I am concerned, that is the absolute wrong thing to drink with dinner. Pairing wines with food does not automatically mean spending a lot of money or buying wines just because of a fancy name. As the main centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table, the turkey is a dry meat that generally has little fat. If you want reds to go with it, they need to be soft and supple, with light tannins. This would generally be the cooler climate red grapes like Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir. The second issue with the Thanksgiving meal is all the extra courses. Once again both Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir are the Swiss army knife of the wine world; they generally go with everything. I’ll drink my big Cabs or Bordeaux with a bit of appetizers or just enjoy them while sitting around the kitchen cooking the food. Once dinner is served, away they go and I break out the dinner wines.

I was at a loss as to which wine to recommend for Thanksgiving. I was originally going to recommend a very tasty Beaujolais from the Julienas region, but we don’t have enough to be the feature of an email for all the VIP customers. If you are interested, I have a bit left at Manchester. Stop by and Trey or I can show it to you. It’s very reasonable in price.

In the end, I decided on the Pinot Society Pinot Noir. It comes from Santa Barbara, where the vineyard is nestled between two mountain ranges. Cool winds from the Pacific Ocean flood the valley in the mornings, bringing lots of fog, which keeps the area cool. That is the secret to good Pinot Noir. Everywhere in California can grow Pinot Noir, unfortunately most areas are so hot, the grapes ripen very fast without developing any secondary characteristics, which is the key to good Pinot Noir: flavor nuances and finish.

Pinot Noirs usually have a lighter body and lighter color compared to most other red wines. I am somewhat surprised at the depth of color on this wine, since it is a deeper red than I expected. The wine is starting to turn a darker red with traces of brick, while having a clear rim. This wine has a strong strawberry and cranberry nose. Apropos for a Thanksgiving dinner. I can detect the ripeness of the grapes buried under the pronounced berry nose. The palate is completely different than I expected. Strawberry and cranberry flavors are nowhere to be found. At least for me that is a good thing. The palate covers the entire mouth with warm earthiness.

As I write, I can’t stop thinking about truffles on a warm risotto and lots of Reggiano Parmesan cheese. The wine is soft, round, and full bodied. This wine seems to start out Californian but midway it changes to Burgundy. Changing midway, the sweetness that I detect in the nose is not found in the wine, but there is a bit of sour in the finish. Nothing crazy, just enough to clean the palate and make you want to taste it again.