Gobble gobble? More like guzzle guzzle. Thanksgiving is a day when no indulgence should be denied, so we present fool-proof wine and beer pairings for four common Thanksgiving dishes. The team behind the suggestions: Thomas Madrecki, the wine enthusiast behind Vin de Chez, a pop-up wine bar in D.C.; and Jace Gonnerman, the beverage director for Meridian Pint, Brookland Pint and Smoke & Barrel. Here are the booze pros’ go-to selections.
The wine: To cut through the butter and heavy cream often found in mashed potatoes, Madrecki suggests the 2012 Linden Vineyards Hardscrabble chardonnay produced in Virginia. “It’s very crisp,” he says. “It has a density and range of flavors that is complex and unique. It’s something you can continue to drink without getting sick of.”
The beer: “Beer is good with mashed potatoes, because the carbonation washes away the fat on your palate,” Gonnerman says. He leans toward an extra malty and robust porter, such as DC Brau’s Penn Quarter Porter. The hints of roasted coffee and chocolate pair well with heavier fats like butter and sour cream. “It has a nice rich backbone,” Gonnerman says.
The wine: Madrecki recommends a lighter red for stuffing, such as a 2014 Le TelQuel from Thierry Puzelat, a natural wine grower in Loire Valley, France. “You can pound this wine,” he says. “It’s a little funky, with bright berry flavors that go really well with the sausage and herbs that can be in stuffing.” Throw it in the fridge 30 minutes prior to serving.
The beer: A traditional bread stuffing is a perfect match for Belgian saison, which is subtle on hops. “I‘m a hop head, but I drink those before or after the meal,” he says. D.C.-based 3 Stars Brewing Co. makes a Peppercorn Saison, a light beer that gives off a ton of fruity and earthy character. “It plays well with the onions and herbaceousness of stuffing,” Gonnerman says.
The wine: Though Madrecki notes that people often serve a rosé or a full body white with turkey, he recommends something a little more American: cider. “It’s sparkling and delicious with all manor of Thanksgiving food,” he says. Potter’s Craft Cider, located outside of Charlottesville, Va., makes a Farmhouse Dry cider he likes.
The beer: The white meat of the turkey can be overwhelmed if you go with too big of a beer, Gonnerman says. Which is why he prefers something a little more balanced like Ommegang Abbey’s Belgian Dubbel. “It has more dark fruit flavors, like cherry, plum and raisin,” he says. “It has nice, rich flavor components but drinks light and doesn’t linger.”
The wine: For a dish with so much spice, Madrecki suggests a 2011 Rkatsiteli from Pheasant’s Tears, based in Georgia (the country, not the state). An orange wine, the Rkatsiteli is made from grapes that have been fermented with their stems and skins left on. “It means bigger flavors and spicy notes, like the nutty quality you’d get in sherry.”
The beer: “This is where you can go big,” Gonnerman says. “This is where you can break out those big 10, 12 percent, roasty beers that are going to play off the pumpkin pie.” His favorite? North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. “It has a slightly burnt character that plays well with spicy pumpkin.” The same pairing idea works with pecan pie, he adds.
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