The One Tip You Need When Buying Thanksgiving Wine This Year


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I returned from vacation this week to find that San Francisco had entered a new season. The air was cooler, the daylight much shorter. Even though the trees in my neighborhood stay stubbornly green, it still smells like fall.

This time of year suits me perfectly. I love to eat soup and I really love Thanksgiving, with all of its hearty and warm fall dishes. Best of all, Thanksgiving food is ideal For food and wine pairing, and I’m always just as excited to plan what I’m going to drink as what I’m going to cook.

Here is what will be on my menu this year.

Riesling is the underrated Thanksgiving wine, IMO. The dry versions of this white wine are so versatile: aromatic enough to be an aperitif while you’re still in the kitchen and acidic enough to cut through a fatty sauce or buttered potatoes. It often features honeyed flavors that pair beautifully with the nuts in your cranberry sauce, the chestnuts in your stuffing, or the maple glaze on your sweet potatoes.

Then, of course, there are semi-sweet and super-sweet rieslings, which would look amazing with any classic Thanksgiving pie – pumpkin, pecan, apple, etc. If you’re interested in rieslings with your dessert, look for German bottles labeled auslese (sweet), berenauslese (sweeter), or trockenbeerenauslese (sweeter). These are markers for the softness levels.

However, I’m going to drink American and plan to serve a wine from one of my favorite national riesling producers, the Oregon Paetra. This winery makes tasty, intensely aromatic and beautifully balanced examples of the grape variety. If you can find it, hang it Paetra Elwetritsche Riesling 2019 ($ 34 at Gary’s Wine), a cuvée they only produce in certain years when conditions are ideal. It’s lively, fruity, quite dry and with a bewitching flavor.

Pinot Noir is the quintessential Thanksgiving pairing, to the point where it’s almost a cliché. As a light red, it goes naturally with poultry. (A bigger, more tannic red could potentially dominate the bird.) Over the past few years, I have resisted the appeal of pinot noir at the Thanksgiving table, opting for other light reds like gamay, lambrusco, even a delicate zinfandel.

This year, I am answering the call. I will be opening a local pinot noir from a new producer, Darling Wines. Their Pinot Noir Grant Vent Vineyard 2019 ($ 57.99 at Flatiron), from Petaluma Gap, smells of crisp fall leaves and cranberries. It’s a lean and tight Pinot Noir, with a resounding flavor of juicy black cherry. There’s a thrilling acidity that I think will keep my palate refreshed between bites of these creamy stuffing slices with nuts and sausage – a brilliant recipe from our own Christian Reynoso that I can’t wait to try.

Something made from apples that’s what I really want right now. There will be an apple pie on my Thanksgiving, and I love the idea of ​​ending the meal with a drink that echoes its distinctly seasonal flavors. If you really want to have a blast, you might consider a bottle of Calvados, the deliciously evocative apple brandy made in the French region of Normandy. (To get it right, prepare what the Normans call a “Norman hole,” a shot of Calvados with a scoop of sorbet. It’s a great cleanser for the palate.) A good Calvados can get expensive, but the Reserve of the Domaine du Manoir de Montreuil ($ 44.99 at K&L) is excellent value.

Alternatively, finish your meal with cider. These days there are so many amazing ciders available in the Bay Area, many of them are produced locally and in such a wide array of styles. While I usually drink cider before dinner and gravitate towards the dry styles, for these purposes I seek a bottle that is a bit sweet, in order to resist dessert. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: dry wine and sugary foods don’t mix.) Julien Thurel Nectar ($ 19.50 at Redfield), a semi-dry sparkling cider from France that tastes as rich in nectar as its name suggests. Or, for a local Sonoma County option, search Graviva of the inclined shed ($ 16 from the Tilted Shed online store), which brings a light funky sparkle to its stone fruit flavors.

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