Once the invitations have been extended for this year’s Thanksgiving feast and the relatives have excitedly called to plan their arrival, that’s when a lot of hosts might find themselves undergoing sudden “preparation panic.”
Take your pick of white, crisp chardonnays and look for one from a lesser-known winery.
As the traditional turkey is thawed, they might wonder how they’re ever going to top last year’s delectable secret recipe for Grandma’s sangria, which everyone enthused about while mingling with guests waiting to be fed.
The answer to this year’s creative culinary drink-pairing struggle lies inside a chilled or aged wine bottle, said Michelle Carlton, owner of the wine store Cork & Olive in Lakeside Village in Lakeland.
“Wine goes well with anything,” said Carlton. “Thanksgiving is time for a feast, and wine changes the taste of food, just like food changes the taste of wine.”
Carlton said those looking for a classy wine with which to toast while cutting up the roasted turkey should stick to getting a white, crisp wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a fruity and tangy Chardonnay.
“The traditional roasted turkey goes great with a white wine,” she said. “The white meat pairs up well with a light-colored wine.”
Carlton said an array of impressive white wines are available from $12 to $17 and from unique wineries in places such as Chile and Australia.
One favorite found at the store is the Reserve Chardonnay Santa Alicia from Chile, which has buttery and fruity tastes as well as nuances of pineapples, mangos and bananas.
Though the pick is perfect to pair with turkey and all the delicious traditional accompaniments, such as pumpkin pie and anything cranberry, Carlton added it’s always up to the buyer to select which wine suits their feast.
“I recommend people to come here and sample a variety of wines,” she said. “It’s always good to get help from knowledgeable people when it comes to choosing the perfect wine.”
Natalie MacLean, author of “Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass” and creator of the Web site www.NatalieMacLean.com, said the Thanksgiving feast is the perfect time try to add some sophistication by pairing different wines right next to recipes meant to give your yearly meal an extra kick.
Her free online-matching tool, found at www.NatalieMacLean.com/matcher, even has a “Turkey Holiday Dinner” section dedicated to finding the perfect food and wine mix.
“When wine and food get together, the combination is more pleasurable,” said MacLean. “Wine and food pairings are not about getting nervous and anxious, it’s about drinking what you like.”
MacLean said when the foods presented in a holiday feast are mixed with wine, the results are newfound flavors never imagined by the casual eater and drinker.
“I always tell people to go back to the classic pairing of milk and cookies,” she said. “Milk clears away the cookie taste and refreshes. With turkey, a juicy white and berry wine, or even a merlot, can have the same type of pleasurable effect.”
MacLean added that since white turkey meat is dry in texture it’s best to pick a wine to make it taste more juicy.
“Good options are crisp whites, like Riesling and Pinot Grigio,” she said.
MacLean said another perfect way to start off Thanksgiving is to open up a bottle of champagne, such as the affordable, yet delectably fizzy, black-bottled Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut champagne from Spain.
“Sparkling wine is a great aperitif to sip while you wait for the turkey to finish cooking,” she said.
MacLean suggests going to a local liquor store or wine shop to discuss options with a wine expert and to forget about labels and let yourself go by taste and intuition when choosing the right bottle for your guests to enjoy.
“Wine is the taste of the harvest,” she said. “Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday for it. There’s no better tradition than wine on Thanksgiving so you can enjoy the fruits of the harvest in your glass and on your plate.”
Today we’re offering some Thanksgiving recipes with suggested wine pairings to help you make this year’s event a delicious success. Don’t be afraid to go out there and try your own selection of wine to add a personal spin to this year’s pairings.