There is no holiday that puts food and wine at the center of the celebration like Thanksgiving. While there are many traditions surrounding this holiday, for me it is a chance to share cool wines with friends and family.
Many people like to feature turkey and a wild assortment of side dishes for Thanksgiving and that is where I focused for this column. I stopped by Hy Vee and in their hot foods section picked up white meat turkey and gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and cheesy potato hash. A wide assortment of textures and flavors that would be fun to pair with. Each of the dishes was well-prepared, with my favorite being the sweet potatoes that were smashed and baked with brown sugar and topped with melted marshmallows.
The wine possibilities are endless, but for Thanksgiving, I like to focus on wines that are complementary to the meal and approachable for anyone. Thanksgiving is the one time of the year when everyone, even people who never drink wine will enjoy a glass with friends and family. So easy to drink, light and fun are the characteristics I seek.
I started with Jean Paul Dubost Beaujolais-Lantignie, 2019, Beaujolais, France, $20.00. This wine is made from the Gamay grape variety from the southern part of Burgundy. The wine is garnet in the glass and offers notes of intriguing aromas of violet, plums, and dry figs. It is expressive on the palate with fruit compote, black currant jam, and a sapid dryness that is distinctive to Gamay and pleasant. 88 points.
Next, I tried Brandborg Gewurztraminer, 2015, Elkton, Oregon, $20.00. From an off-the-beaten-path wine region in coastal Oregon. The wine is golden yellow in the glass with an intensity on the nose evoking spice, clove, petrol, and overripe peach. In the mouth, the wine makes a vibrant attack on the center palate with dried baker's spice, dried fruit, and citrus. It’s unique, flavorful, and distinctive. The wine is a gem. 88 points.
The third wine I tried is Schloss Saarstein Riesling, 2018, Mosel, Germany, $20.00. Evoking the sweet essence of crushed apples, honey, and nectarine, the wine coats the palate with a pleasing, delicate sweetness. Uplifting acidity and flavors of white peach, papaya, and nuanced honey. A crowd-pleasing wine. 88 points.
For a bonus wine, I tried a wine cocktail called Cipriani Bellini, NV, Venice, Italy, $17.00. It’s Italian prosecco with natural peach puree blended in. This is the original Bellini made famous at Harry’s Bar in Venice. This beverage is cloudy yellow in the glass and has soft, pleasing bubbles, and easy sweetness enhanced with juicy peach flavor from the pureed fruit. It’s almost too easy to drink. It’s delicious, fun, and approachable for anyone to drink.
With the Thanksgiving fare, all of these wines worked very well. The Beaujolais clashed with the sharp cranberry salad but otherwise complimented every other dish. My favorite was the Schloss Saarstein Riesling. I like the delicate sweetness and the acidity that lifts it up to enhance every dish it pairs with. I’d also have difficulty saying no to a glass of Cipriani Bellini.
Whatever your food tradition is, I hope you have the chance to try a new wine this year to make your celebration even more memorable.
Mark McDonald and his wife, Kim, own The Italian Vine, a Lincoln-based wine distributorship. They recently lived in Italy for several years and studied and developed a passion for wine that inspired them to open their own enterprise.