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The mother of all family meals is almost upon us. As if navigating family dynamics, political infighting, family sports rivalries, cooking for a small army, and dietary restrictions weren't enough, there is always the question: What wine do I pair with my Thanksgiving dinner? Wine pairing can be tricky, especially when trying to appeal to a broad range of tastes.
Here are a few suggestions with their ideal pairings for a traditional menu featuring some Italian flourishes. These wines will appeal to various palates, are accessible, and are easy to drink. They also punch well above their price points and impress even the fussiest wine snobs at your table.
A crisp, round, medium-bodied, citrusy white wine from Piedmont that screams: "Turkey!"
Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and white wine drinkers of all stripes will love this offering. Easy drinking and a crowd pleaser.
Pairings: Turkey, shellfish, shrimp, vegetable crudites, white pasta, soft cheeses
This elegant sparkling wine from Lombardia is made in the traditional method like Champagne. The difference is that in addition to Chardonnay and Pinot Nero, they blend in a smidge of Pinot Bianco to lend a slightly floral quality and soften the finish. This quaffable wine is super versatile and can be paired with anything from appetizers to the desserts of your choice. Think of it as the Swiss Army Knife of wines.
Did you REALLY think this list wouldn't have a Pinot Grigio on it? But before you reach for the Santa Margherita, hear me out. Santa Margherita is overpriced and bland. It is like dishwater compared to this gorgeously textured wine, packed with flavors of yellow and green apple, a lip-smackingly tart mid-palate, and a quick, mineral-rich finish. It will give you a new appreciation for what Pinot Grigio can be if vinified correctly. Taste Terlan and St. Margherita side by side. It won't even be close. It will seem like the difference between watching a black and white TV with rabbit ears and a 4k LED HD TV.
Pairings: Turkey, stuffing, white pasta, leafy greens, potato salad, salumi.
The open secret in the wine world is that Italians export Pinot Grigio and drink the Pinot Bianco! So what's the appreciable difference between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Bianco? The extra flavorful notes of pear and green apples and some more zippy salinity in the Bianco. Pinot Bianco is also more floral than the Grigio and has a cleaner finish.
This is an excellent alternative to Pinot Grigio and a fantastic pairing for spicy dishes.
Pairings: TURKEY! Candied yams, shrimp cocktail, oysters, roasted potatoes, white pasta, stuffing, salumi, ricotta featured dishes, soft goat and sheep's milk cheeses. It even pairs well with cannoli!
This light, crisp, mineral-driven Trebbiano from Northern Italy is a great crossover wine for Sancerre and Muscadet lovers. Boasting fantastically refreshing acidity and balance, this wine will surely be a massive hit with most traditional Thanksgiving dishes and will be hard to put down. As we say in the industry, it is a "Patio Pounder."
Pairings: Turkey, salumi, raw bar, mashed potatoes, and green beans.
Greco is fabled to be one of the grapes the Greeks brought to Southern Italy when they colonized it 4000 years ago. This beautifully full-bodied, flinty, textured white wine is tailor-made for turkey and poultry. It features mango, melon, and passionfruit with a refreshing balance of acidity and a long mineral finish. One sip and you will be hooked!
Pairings: Turkey, Potatoes, Salumi,
This delightful field blend of the three white grapes of Campania: Fiano, Falanghina, and Greco is available again in limited quantities. This is an incredible value. It features flavors of tart white peach, yellow apple, and lemon zest with a fantastic texture.
Pairings: Turkey (fried or roasted) yams, cold salads.
This wine drinks expensive but is a steal! It is a dead-ringer for a cru Barolo. The Pertinace has a fragrant nose of crushed rose petals, red cherry fruit on the palate, a tart mid-palate, and grippy, elegant tannins. This offering is medium-bodied and perfectly balanced.
Pairings: Pertinace Langhe Nebbiolo will highlight everything from turkey to earthy mushroom-based side dishes or rib roasts if you are flipping the usual menu.
The honeyed notes on the nose inspired the Romans to name this grape after the appianum or apiary when they observed that bees were attracted to this varietal. The aromas of wildflowers and honey lead to tart candied citrus flavors and a light, dry finish. Bechar is an excellent example of Fiano as it shows lots of depth and mineral. It will brighten up even the driest turkeys or blandest potatoes.
Pairings: TURKEY! yams, ravioli, and soft cheeses
This gorgeous, all-purpose, medium-bodied Sicilian red is organic and aged in amphorae the way the Greeks and Romans would have made it. Pithos Rosso shows juicy high toned red fruits, notes of earth, and ashy, volcanic-influenced tannins it gets from the vineyard's proximity to Mt. Etna. It truly over delivers at this price due to its impressive depth and complexity.
Pairings: It is light enough to avoid upstaging the more delicate dishes like turkey but will contrast and highlight cold cuts like prosciutto, and hard cheeses beautifully.