It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada so it is a good time to reflect on all I am thankful for. And apart from the very popular pets, friends, family, career, and health, I am very thankful for wine and travel. I am thankful for all the support I got to study and eventually pass my French Wine Scholar Guild exam. I am even more thankful that people read my blog. And with that in mind, I though I would focus this week’s blog on picking the perfect Thanksgiving wine.
Growing up in the 70s and 80s. I wouldn’t say my family was particularly wine focused. In fact the only one who drank it was my grandmother and she preferred Baby Duck (shudder). Side note: to Leopold’s Tavern in Winnipeg, if you are going to put wine on your menu, please ensure its drinkable. I know you like the dive bar concept and I am sure you think Baby Duck is retro. Here’s the fact, Baby Duck may be retro but it is in fact believed to be universally disgusting, so offer wine that is palatable. However back to the story, in our family it was assumed that red wine was for red or darker meats and white was for fish or chicken. I am here to tell you that is not true.
While it isn’t as simple as picking your favourite wine or a label you like, it is not complicated either. If you are having turkey, chicken, or ham, they are lighter meats. Big bold reds or buttery whites would not pair well. The reds would overwhelm and the buttery whites would add rich on top of rich. So if you are having those meats look for wines high in acid and fruit forward. This means looking for cooler climate wine. France’s Northern Rhone, Bourgogne, Jura, Savoie , and Loire regions would all produce reds that would pair well. Bourgogne is infamous for its pinot noir and pinot noirs in a cool climate or high elevation would be a perfect pairing. So explore BC’s Okanagan Valley. Quails Gate, Indigenous Winery, Sandhill, Summerhill, and Cedar Creek all have excellent pinot noirs.https://www.sandhillwines.ca/ Austrian and English reds would also pair well. As would wine from Spain’s Rioja region, Portugal’s Douro Valley, and Tuscan wines from Italy.
If you are set on white I would recommend looking for higher acid wines, again Loire Valley, Alsace, Savoie, and Northern Rhone wines are ideal. Especially the Vioginer from the Norther Rhone. Ehrenfelser, Gewürztraminer, and Rieslings will also pair well. So again focus on B.C.’s Okaganon, Norther California, German, Austrian, British and Northern Italian wines. Yes I am recommending British wines but check reviews first. Chapel Down Winery is one I would recommend. https://www.chapeldown.com/
If you are going for a heavier meat such as goose, venison or beef, look for the heartier reds with bolder flavours. This is the time for Bordeauxs. Languedocs, Southern Rhone wines from France. Or the Southern Californian pinot noirs. Southern Spain, Southern Portugal, Barolo form Italy, Croatian Wine and of course the new would carmeneres, and malbecs from Chile or Argentina. And if you are dead set on Australian, now is the time. Likewise the saviginon blancs from New Zealand or Buttery Chardonnays would work though not as well.
If you need a cocktail to start, try any variation of Sparkling Wine cocktails. Add in your favorite liqueurs such as creme de cassis which will give it the berry flavour that ties in nicely with cranberry sauce. Or add any berry, cognac, or citrus flavoring you like. Or keep it as plain old sparkling wine and it will still be delicious.
And when it comes time for dessert, late harvest wines are probably your best bet. Summerhill’s late harvest Erenfelser has the nutty flavours that pair well https://www.summerhill.bc.ca/ as does Rollingdale’s Fort. http://www.rollingdale.ca/ In fact BC’s wineries probably do some of the best late harvest wines available. As well any of Borduax’s Sauterenes and the Rhone’s Beaume de Venise would also do well. Medium bodied or dry sherry’s would also work exceptionally well. Ports though I love them and icewines wines are better paired with cheeses than sweet desserts.
If you still aren’t sure, visit the local wine store and ask their advice. Be sure to tell them what you like and and what you don’t. They will be more than happy to help. In Winnipeg ,I favour Di Nardi, Kenaston Wine Market, The Winehouse, and Banville and Jones. They are all excellent at recommending wines.
Whatever you pick for your Thanksgiving meal, I hope you enjoy it as life is far too short not to have a wine you enjoy.