The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

How Wine Makes Your Thanksgiving Sing

Posted on | November 18, 2015 | Written by Crystal Edgar | No Comments

Norman Rockwell's Freedom from Want could do with some wine

Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want” could do with some wine

I’m a foodie, and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the produce available in autumn and all the delectable dishes that are a result of its bountiful harvest!  In most American households the holiday incorporates food, football and family, mine included. As the wine person in the family, I am usually charged with the task of shopping for wine which allows my creative juices to run freely around the cellar. For those who have challenging family dynamics, the selection of wine and or spirits as social lubricant is of significant importance.

One way to make this task easy is to do down the shopping list of dishes that will be served and depending on the crowd, budget and level of sanity required for the gathering choices can be adjusted accordingly. Below are some of my favorites, but don’t let that limit you should you wish to explore further.

Cheese Ball Appetizer: This is a tough one, due to the richness and sweet flavors added to the cheese, I recommend going with a fruity sparkling wine (Fantinel Prosecco Brut Extra Dry NV) or a Kir Royale. Bubbles are always a good place to start in my book.

Turkey: classic roast turkey without cranberry sauce needs a beverage with body, minerality and fruit. I would go with a Verdicchio from Le Marche (Sartarelli Verdicchio Tralivio 2013), dry Riesling from Germany, Chardonnay from Italy (Antinori’s Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay) or a Gamay from France (Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgan Reserve 2013). However you could also do a cocktail concoction with gin, citrus and thyme or sage

Cranberry Sauce: Though technically a relish, this is a game-changer when deciding what goes well with turkey, depending on how much you dish up will depend on the level of sweetness needed in the wine. For wine, I recommend a Spaetlese Riesling from Germany, Pinot Noir from California or Australia or a fruity prosecco or sparlkling wine (Fantinel Prosecco Brut Extra Dry NV). If you wanted to do spirits, it’s nice to create a bridge and incorporate the cranberries into a cocktail or infused in vodka. Otherwise, create an Old Fashioned or Manhattan using cranberries soaked in brandy rather than cherries.

Green Bean Casserole: Due to the richness in this dish I reach for bubbles or something bright and refreshing to cleanse the palate. Continue on the sparkling wine train (Barone Pizzini Rosé Franciacorta) otherwise move to a Chardonnay from France (Domaine Latour-Giraud Bourgogne Blanc 2013) or dry Riesling from Germany. On the spirit side, Tequila (blanco or reposado) may be the name of the game here, Margarita on the rocks, add cranberry if you want to be more festive.

Brussel Sprouts/Kale/Asparagus : Due to the unique acidity and tannins in these veggies, I recommend counterbalancing with something fruity with some weight. Arneis from Italy (Cornarea Roero Arneis 2013) or for the more adventurous palate Orange wine (Gravner Breg Anfora 2006, great with turkey and other fix-ins too!). Stay with the margarita or switch up for a Side Car, using orange rather than lemon in the drink.

Mashed Potatoes: If made simply, potatoes are neutral, so continue drinking your beverage of choice.

Mac & Cheese: This is a richer dish, so something bright and refreshing will cleanse the palate and encourage you to further indulge. Bubbles or bright whites with fruit (Domaine Barat Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu 2013). And if you like the brown liquor, you’re in luck. Scotch on the rocks, add a bit of water or soda depending on how strong you prefer your drinks.

Sweet Potatoes & Marshmallows: This is a tricky dish—treat it as you would a dessert, especially if your grandmother’s recipe calls for generous amounts of brown sugar. Oloroso Sherry, Brachetto d’Acqui (

Norman Rockwell's Freedom from Want could do with some wine

Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want could do with some wine

hetto d’Acqui 2014) and Vin Santo are good bets. Bourbon is gold here, try a bourbon Manhattan or perhaps a Mint Julep.

Cornbread/Popovers: This should be another neutral dish, so drink of choice works here.

Apple Pie/Pumpkin Pie/Pecan Pie: With these flavors you can have some fun here; just remember the wine must be sweeter than the pie. Sauternes, Recioto della Valpolicella (Begali Recioto della Valpolicella Classico 2010), Quarts de Chaumes or Tokaji all work for wine. And for spirits, pour some Bourbon or dark Rum cocktail or on the rocks, Amaretto on the rocks, Tia Maria, coffee with Frangelico and cream.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your food, your drink and your loved ones most of all!


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