White or red for Thanksgiving? Both.

By Dave McIntyre
Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving dinner can be challenging from a wine-pairing perspective because it abandons the orderly progression of dishes, each requiring one wine, for a smorgasbord approach and a riot of flavors on the table all at once. To which I say: Embrace the challenge and open one of everything. Something on the table will match the wine in your glass. You just might need to be careful what you eat right before taking a sip.

That said, here are some easy guidelines to help you pair wines with your turkey and the trimmings.

First, bubbles go with everything. You cannot go wrong with champagne, Italian prosecco, Spanish cava or their sparkling cousins from California. Other versatile, food-friendly wines include Riesling, pinot noir, gamay (the grape of Beaujolais) and barbera.

Second, don't forget Beaujolais nouveau. Your wine-snob friends may sneer, but like Thanksgiving, Beaujolais nouveau is a celebration of the recent harvest, and it is conveniently released exactly one week before the turkey hits the table. This was a particularly strong vintage throughout France. And Beaujolais nouveau, with its grapey freshness, is the ideal partner for cranberry sauce.

Third, start with lighter wines and progress to heavier ones. Almost as important as matching flavors, you should consider the weight of your wine and food. So if you opt for an all-sparkling-wine dinner, start with a delicate prosecco and save the vintage champagne for the main course.

Fourth, the seasoning is just as important as the food. Pinot noir loves ginger. Syrah adores bacon. All wine lusts for tarragon.

The accompanying recommendations match styles of wine with a traditional Thanksgiving menu, drawing on Food section recipes from last Wednesday and today. Bon app├ętit!

Appetizers/finger foods

Flavors Salty, briny, creamy
Dishes Deviled-Eggy Crab Spread, Veggie Buffalo Spread
Wine styles Lighter sparkling wines from Italy (prosecco), Spain (cava) or Southern Hemisphere countries; crisp, acidic whites such as sauvignon blanc from New Zealand or Chile, or torrontes from Argentina

Loredan Gasparini Prosecco Montello e Colli Asolani
Italy, $12
(Great Value)

Delightful apple and pear flavors with crisp bubbles; this wine especially perks up with Asian spices.

Dionysus: available in the District at MacArthur Beverages, Wagshal's Market, Whole Foods Market P Street and Tenleytown; available in Maryland at Balducci's and Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, in Gaithersburg, Snider's Super Foods in Silver Spring; available in Virginia at Balducci's in Alexandria and McLean, Whole Foods Markets in Alexandria, Fair Lakes, Reston, Tysons Corner and Vienna, Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview.


Flavors Fruity, herbal, bitter, spicy, earthy
Dishes Endive and Mache Salad With Apple Vinaigrette, Shaved Fennel, Pear and Tarragon Salad, Roasted Ginger Beet Salad With Ricotta Salata, Escarole and Celery Heart Salad With Warm Rosemary Dressing

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