Source: 10 Exceptional Thanksgiving Food and Wine Pairings
This year, don't spend countless hours deliberating over what should go into your Thanksgiving food spread only to overlook what you'll be drinking; after all, the wines served can make or break your turkey day feast. For the ultimate holiday food and wine pairing guide, we consulted wine expert Eugenio Jardim, who offered his favorite accompaniments for every classic dish, from mashed potatoes and gravy to pumpkin pie. Want to be sure this year's your best Thanksgiving ever? Then keep reading for some of Eugenio's suggestions.
Our Expert: Jardiniere Wine Director Eugenio Jardim: Meet Eugenio Jardim, the wine director at acclaimed San Francisco restaurant Jardiniere. The Brazilian-born wine consultant - who was just named Sunset magazine's 2010 Sommelier of the Year! - has a knack for eclectic wine pairings and a passion for grapes that's truly infectious.
Butternut Squash Soup and Sparkling Rosé: Jardim is an advocate of pink bubbly with butternut squash soup. "Like in a perfect marriage, they bring the best out of each other," he says. "The sour rose petals and raspberry notes in the wine brighten the dense quality of the soup, while the soft texture of the soup enhances the fruitiness and elegance of the wine."
Allimant-Laugner Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rosé (about $18*): "It's delicate, seductive, bright, and fruity, and it cuts through the buttery nature of the soup with a plastic surgeon's precision."
*estimated retail price
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Mashed Potatoes With Gravy and Riesling: "Mashed potatoes are creamy and buttery, and gravy is fatty and salty, so take both of these characteristics into consideration; your wine needs to have enough acidity to cut through the butter, but it also needs to have a bit of sweetness to bring down the salt component," Jardim explains. "Even if you're resistant to trying wines with a bit of residual sugar, you will be pleasantly surprised by these pairings."
Brussels Sprouts With Bacon and Pinot Gris: "Pairing wine with brussels sprouts is not an easy task, and you really have to think outside the box," Eugenio admits. "The bitter and salty components of this dish have to be slightly matched while being contrasted. Try it with a Pinot Gris, which is an Alsatian grape with an almond-like bitterness laced with white flowers and peaches."
2008 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley, Mendocino ($19): "One of the best examples in this country."
Green Bean Casserole and Sauvignon Blanc: For green bean casserole - "a classic Americana dish that's as much palate pleasing as it is belly-filling" - choose a contrasting wine. "Otherwise, you will not be able to have more than just a few bites," Jardim warns. His suggestion? A bright, herbaceous, and high-acidity wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc from New Zealand or South Africa.
Cornbread Dressing and Chardonnay: "One of my favorite wine pairings for anything with corn in it is Chardonnay. A few days ago I enjoyed the fantastic Catena Zapata wines from Argentina and I still remember how well the flavors of their luscious Chardonnays matched the sweet creaminess of corn," Jardim recalled.
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Sausage-and-Sourdough Stuffing (or Cranberry Sauce) and Zinfandel: "This is a perfect example of when the condiments dictate the wine pairing," Eugenio explained. "The richer and heavier the stuffing, the bigger and bolder the wine needs to be."
2008 Dashe Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley ($15): "This wine has the bonus of being very cranberry-like in flavors and aromas, which will make it a great addition to your Thanksgiving dinner; it fits the bill perfectly because it is bright, fruity, high acid and low in alcohol."
Pumpkin Pie and Moscatel: "Like with the butternut squash soup, texture is the important element with this dessert," Eugenio explains. "This has a sweet, creamy and fruity quality to it, which is better paired with like-flavored wines."
Adega de Favaios Moscatel do Douro ($12): "One of my most delightful recent discoveries is a Portuguese wine that is bound to wow you by its quality as well as its price tag."
Chocolate Pecan Pie and Vin Santo: "Nothing speaks of Thanksgiving dinner to me, besides turkey, as pecan pie!" Explained Jardim: "I love everything about it: the sweet filling, the toasty crust and the caramelized nuts, and no other dessert wine speaks of the holidays to me as Vin Santo does. This delicious little wonder from Tuscany has all the elements to pair amazingly well with pie. Just remember: The wine must always be slightly sweeter than the dessert. You will find many producers of Vin Santo at varied prices, some really high, but here are some reasonably-priced favorites."
1998 Volpaia Vin Santo del Chianti Classico ($20 for 375 ml)
1999 Fattoria di Felsina Vin Santo del Chianti Classico ($35 for 375 ml)
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