Perfect pairings: Wine & turkey

Thanksgiving is the time for celebrating with family, and every celebration deserves the perfect complement: a fine bottle of wine.

The perfect bottle of wine can be difficult to find, especially with all of the different foods that can be shoved haphazardly onto the kitchen table and counters on the holiday.

Should a red or white wine be chosen? What about a blush? How sweet or dry should it be? How can revelers be sure they’re getting the most palatable wine that will enhance the flavor of a meal?

Suggested pairings

The Unicorn Wine Guild in Belpre has paired eight plates with complementary wines, to give an idea of what wines to serve with Thanksgiving dinner.

They suggest the following course and wine pairings:

A beef stew paired with Cabernet Sauvignon.

A cranberry dish paired with Chardonnay.

A cheese soup made with Riesling was paired with a Johannisberg Riesling.

A brie salad with honey vinaigrette and port reduction paired with an Australian White Zinfandel.

A sweet potato ball with marshmallow and apple cider reduction paired with Australian Shiraz.

Salmon cakes with lentil ragu paired with California White.

Turkey and dried fruit stuffing paired with Cranberry Malbec and White Cranberry Pinot Gris.

A pumpkin dish paired with Cabernet Franc Ice Wine.

The most popular wines during Thanksgiving for Unicorn Wine Guild are sweet reds, specifically their Pomegranate Zinfandel, called Redbird, which has a sweet spicy flavor, and the Cranberry Malbec, called Castle Red, which has North American cranberries, plum, black currant and sweet cherry.

White or whatever you like

On the other side of the wine spectrum, The Marietta Wine Cellars’ most popular wines during Thanksgiving are of the white variety.

“Usually white wines pair better with turkey,” said Kari Rings, daughter of Marietta Wine Cellars owners Al and Mary Jane Phillips. “We tell people to drink what they like, but we think white wines pair better.”

Rings said each person should choose a wine based on their own palate.

“We tell people to drink by their preference on the sweetness chart,” Rings said. “If you’re not sure either way, go somewhere in the middle. The difference between dry and sweet is in the sugar.”

Rings said while white wines will go better with a turkey dinner, red wines go great with dessert, especially if that dessert is chocolate.

“Chocolate desserts and red wine go great together,” Rings said. “Certain wines bring out certain flavors in the desserts.”

Rings added that the relationships between wines and food is reciprocal; certain desserts can also bring out certain flavors in wines.

Rings said the Marietta Wine Cellars offers gift baskets for those who aren’t sure what to buy. Gift baskets include red and white wines, so everybody will be covered. She suggests buying multiple wines for Thanksgiving dinner, so everyone is happy.

“Drink what you like,” Rings said simply.

The most popular Wine Cellars wine during the Thanksgiving holiday is White Christmas. But don’t let the name fool you: White Christmas is a white cranberry wine.

“The white cranberry goes well with turkey,” Rings said. “It’s not super sweet but it is fruity.”

Red and white

Like the Wine Cellars, The House of Wines offers a similar approach when choosing a wine for Thanksgiving dinner. Sally Oliver, owner of the House of Wines, said that traditionally white wine is served with the Thanksgiving meal.

“Traditionally, the suggested wine is a Riesling,” Oliver said. “A lot of people do drink that. A lot of folks just buy what they like to drink.”

Oliver said the amount of wine one should buy is different for everyone and suggested buying multiple wines for the Thanksgiving feast because everyone drinks something different.

“I think (the amount of wine) depends on family tradition and how much wine you typically drink,” Oliver said. “I’d have at least a bottle of red and a bottle of white for the whole family to choose from.”

Oliver said a different wine could also be purchased to go with dessert.

“Riesling is also a great choice to go with dessert,” Oliver said. “But ice wines are also very nice.”

Oliver suggested a wine called “Blindfold” for Thanksgiving dinner. It is a Rhone-style white blend wine made by The Prisoner Wine Co.

While Blindfold got high recommendations from Oliver, she did say choosing a Thanksgiving wine was the customer’s decision.

“I encourage people to drink what they like,” Oliver said.

Classic choices

Each type of food can be given a specific complementary wine, but that’s not necessary to get maximum enjoyment out of the Thanksgiving dinner; most revelers will serve dinner guests one or two wines.

Classic Reds for Thanksgiving dinner:

Pinot Noir

Classic Whites for Thanksgiving dinner:

Chardonnay, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Riesling, Seyval Blanc

Best wines for desserts:

Chocolate: Port and sherry, most dry reds, red/blush ice wines

General desserts: Ice wines, Vidal/white wines, Riesling (sweet styles), sparkling wine (semi-sweet to sweet)

Local wineries to visit for suggested Thanksgiving wines:

Unicorn Wine Guild: Redbird, Castle Red

Marietta Wine Cellars: White Christmas

House of Wines: Blindfold