What to drink this Turkey Day: Uncork the Forks

Credit: David Benthal for northforker

Credit: David Benthal for northforker

Every Thanksgiving, I promise myself that the wine-pairing column I write will be my last. That I’m just not going to do it anymore. That I’m just not going to contribute to something I dislike so much about wine writing today.

There are pairing stories for every single holiday now. I even saw some drivel about Halloween candy pairings.

If you are eating mini-Three Musketeers bars and worrying about what wine you’re drinking with it, you might have other problems that this humble wine writer can’t hope to help you with.

Yet here I am — writing a Thanksgiving wine column. Sorry.

You can look around online and find an “expert” willing to recommend just about any wine or wine style. Some say to drink only American wine. Some say sparkling wine, which is never a bad idea, by the way. Some say Barbera is “the” grape. Others will tell you that it’s riesling or pinot noir or merlot or zinfandel or chardonnay or — you get the idea. Some will say to drink affordable wines. Others will suggest that you should go all-out.

I don’t say any of that. I treat my wine-pairing advice the same for Thanksgiving as I do for any other meal.

Drink what you like and don’t worry about what other people, even “experts,” will tell you.

So why am I writing this column at all? Well, it started over the weekend when I began to gather some of the libations my family and I will enjoy during our own Thanksgiving dinner, which is fairly traditional when it comes to food.

Thanksgiving is far and away my favorite holiday. It’s not about presents or candy or costumes or anything like that. It’s about friends, family and eating and drinking well. I like that. A lot.

I love Thanksgiving enough that I “save” wines I come across throughout the year specifically for the holiday. As I was pulling these wines together, I noticed one really interesting thing that’s different about what we’ll be drinking this year versus years past: variety.

I generally employ a three-pronged attack to Thanksgiving wine that includes riesling, rosé and pinot noir, almost always from New York wineries. Acidity and freshness are paramount and that’s just what I like to drink with turkey and everything else that covers the Thanksgiving table.

This year, things are a bit more diverse. We’ll still have those wines, too, but there are also things like funky farmhouse ciders from Vermont, punchy carbonic cabernet franc from the North Fork, pet nats from Vermont, the Finger Lakes and France, and some viognier from Virginia and Maryland.

I think this sort of variety is going to make Thanksgiving more fun than usual. Try a sip of this with a bite of that. Don’t like it? Try something else. We’ve got plenty of bottles open. Remember: the Thanksgiving meal tends to involve a lot of different flavors and textures. That’s why no single wine is “perfect.” This year, I’m embracing that diversity, with delicious wines that I already know I like.

Lenn Thompson