THE OPENER: APPETIZERS
Traditionally, I find that appetizers aren’t a part of Thanksgiving dinner plans, but in our home we think of Thanksgiving as a family dinner party. As soon as you walk in the front door, my mom or I will welcome you with a glass of sparkling wine – I prefer a cava or prosecco, and a table full of cheese, charcuterie and assorted dips.
- Cheese & Charcuterie: When building a cheese and charcuterie board, it’s wise to keep in mind white, red and sparkling pairing options; this way guests with various palates can enjoy! Light- to medium-bodied reds and full-bodied whites nicely compliment the most common selections. For guests still enjoying their welcome glass of bubbles, a hard cheese, like Manchego, or a mild charcuterie, such as prosciutto or other dry salami, pair well, as the saltiness in these options soften the acidity in sparkling wine. Guests that prefer to start the evening with a white and will switch to red during the meal, offer a full-bodied Californian Chardonnay to compliment a fatty pate. Lastly, for those committed red wine lovers, pair fresh cheeses, such as feta and goat, or a soft-ripened cheese, like Brie with a glass of Cabernet Franc because of its high acidity.
- Spinach & Artichoke Dip: I find that the high acidity and low alcohol of a Chilean Merlot has the right formula to stand up against dishes with strong flavors, making this an ideal pairing, considering the intense “green” flavors of spinach and artichokes.
THE MAIN ATTRACTION: TURKEY
As I mentioned, we do some things a little differently in our home for Thanksgiving. My husband and I both come from Cuban-American households, so we see a mix of cultures and cuisines at the dinner table.
- Turkey: I find that the preparation would determine which pairing is best suited for this entrée: if you smoke your bird, I recommend a bold Pinotage, which typically will carry flavors of raspberry and tobacco; whereas, a crisp, dry Pinot Noir Rosé would perfectly compliment one that is grilled or roasted.
- Roast Pork or Lechón: To cut through the fat without taking away from the crispy, crackled skin, you want a wine with high acidity and a touch of sweetness. My best pairing for this would be a dry German Riesling.
THE FINALE: DESSERT
- Pecan Pie: A glass of Madeira elevates a warm slice of of pecan pie – it’s even with a drizzle of chocolate!
- Pumpkin Pie: For this classic Thanksgiving staple, we would want a dessert wine that’s sweet, but not too sweet. An Oloroso Sherry would fit the bill.
- Apple Pie: Friends of mine with dietary restrictions – specifically vegans – typically have a hard time finding things to eat at Thanksgiving, so I try to make sure I have a few options for them. My favorite to make is apple pie. I like to enjoy it with a chilled glass of Moscato d’Asti. Vegan options of this wine can be found in most grocery stores.