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Best Wine Pairing for Thanksgiving Dinner & Dessert


Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather around a table laden with wonderful food, and surrounded by friends and family. It is also a great time to try a new wine, but if you aren’t sure which wines pair best with which foods, don’t feel bad; a lot of people do not know how to choose the right wine to serve with their annual Thanksgiving dinner. We have a suggestion. Why not serve several? No, you don’t need to buy out your local liquor store, but having three to five choices for your guests gives them the opportunity to perhaps try a wine they’ve never had before, and maybe even find a new favorite.

Start with a crisp, dry white wine such as Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling to serve with your appetizers. Dry white wine contains residual sugar that is less than one percent. Since some Rieslings are sweet, make sure it says "Kabinett" on the label if you want a dry wine. Dry white wines are light and refreshing, and complement hors d’oeuvres such as baked Brie with nuts, cheese straws, baked ham and cheese rollups, or sourdough slices and seafood dip.



For the main course, have a few options available. For the person new to red wine, a Beaujolais Nouveau, released on November 15th every year, is a great way to make the transition from white to red. This highly drinkable wine has fewer tannins due to the short fermentation time (6 to 8 weeks), and whole berry fermentation technique which preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the wine without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins. Touted as the “quintessential food wine” by some, this versatile wine pairs just as well with turkey and ham as it does with roast beef, veal, or lamb.



Last but certainly not least, are dessert wines. A dessert consisting mainly of milk chocolate is complemented best by a sweet Riesling or Muscato, and dark chocolate pairs well with Merlot or Petit Syrah. If your dessert contains semisweet chocolate (think warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven) Pinot Noir is a great choice, and a hearty glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel would also work well.

In a good relationship, each member brings out the best in the other. Likewise, the key to a great food and wine pairing is that each item makes the other taste better; the wine brings out the flavors of the food, and the food makes the wine taste better. If you accomplish that, you’ve found yourself a great match.



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