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(Credit: Doug Young)

On Thanksgiving, food tends to take center stage. But a good wine can bring out the best in your meal.

While turkey sits at the proverbial head of the Thanksgiving dinner table, the feast typically includes multiple courses and flavors, from salty appetizers to sweet pies for dessert. This makes choosing wine a challenge.

But playing around with different pairings can be fun. If nothing else, wine can uncork a pleasant conversation — one that doesn’t involve your cousin’s sour-grapes hot take on current events.

Long Island vintners shared their top picks for Thanksgiving wine pairings to help you take the guesswork out of this year’s menu.

Start With Something Sparkling

At weddings and other fancy soirees, hosts often greet guests with a glass of bubbly. In 2021, a year when many will return to more normal Thanksgiving plans after last year’s pandemic-induced anomaly, doing the same for your guests can help you get your holiday started on a high note. 

Sparkling wine also pairs well with charcuterie plates, a popular and easy-to-put-together appetizer.

Gilles Martin of Sparkling Pointe suggests the vineyard’s 2019 Topaz Imperial, a newly-released vintage.

The sparkling rosé is 50 percent Chardonnay, 34 percent Pinot Noir, 16 percent Pinot Meunier and a completely perfect pairing for a charcuterie plate.

“It’s dry in style, yet fruity and lush with brisk acidity and a lingering finish,” Martin said, adding that he loves how it complements charcuterie from nearby 8 Hands Farm and cheese from Catapano Dairy Farm and Goodale Farms.

Take Your Seats, Balance the Sweet 

Rose Hill Vineyards & Inn winemaker Patrick Caserta said people typically begin their meals with a light starter. A butternut squash soup won’t fill anyone up before the main courses hit the table, but it still boasts a fall twist. You don’t want the wine to be overpowering, either. Skip the big, bold reds and opt for a white. Instead of going for something that complements the slightly nutty, pretty sweet butternut squash soup, Caserta recommends taking an “opposite’s attract” approach and going with Rose Hill’s food-friendly Coalescence. 

“It’s a good contrast to the soup with its fruit-frowardness and acidity,” Caserta said. The crisp flavor of the Coalescence cuts through the richness and sweetness, rendering a palette-cleansing effect.

A Wine That Goes With Everything On Your Table

Thanksgiving takes your tastebuds for a ride, but the main course features more flavor profiles than an amateur sommelier may know what to do with. 

“Thanksgiving is a notoriously difficult pairing,” said Anthony Nappa of Raphael Vineyard & Winery. “Turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce are a strong mix of flavors.”

You need a versatile vintage, and you probably want one that feels celebratory, too. Nappa suggests breaking out a bottle of rosé, but leave the light and fruity one you sipped all summer in the wine fridge. 

“Our ‘Rosé’ of Pinot Noir is a richer style rosé,” Nappa said. “At 100 percent Pinot Noir, it’s more full-bodied, with fresh fruit and nice acidity to cut through the fat of the meal.”

Finish Off With Something Sweet

Whether you’re indulging in your grandma’s legendary apple pie or one you waited dutifully in line for at Briermere, you’ll want to offer a wine that’s just as delicious. Uncork a bottle of Duck Walk Vineyards’ Aphrodite, a late-harvest Gewurztraminer.

Winemaker Erik Bilka calls it a “lush dessert wine” with honeysuckle and peach flavors on the palate and a hint of spice. 

“This wine will complement cheesecake and pecan pie,” he said.

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