Since I wrote about Beaujolais and gamay last week, this week I want to recommend some other wines for Thanksgiving.
With chicken and turkey, there’s a big difference between the strongly flavored and more fatty dark meat and leaner white meat. White meat is often assumed to pair better with white wines than reds, but put a little cranberries on your turkey breast and I smell pinot noir. Turkey legs may go as well with a juicy riesling as with a Cotes-du-Rhone, especially if a mouthful of sweet potatoes follows it.
Growing up, my mother basted the turkey with orange juice, and if memory serves me well the adults could have easily traded in their screwdrivers for gewurztraminer — though I know in my family’s case, with my siblings and cousins running around, a good stiff drink was in order.
A wide range of wines can match the traditional Thanksgiving meal, but some are a given. If you can’t find the wines recommended, look for something similar, as these wine types are ideal.
Brooks pinot noir, Janus, 2007 (Willamette Valley, Ore.): All of Brooks’ wines are good, but this pinot noir stands out. Floral with holly berry aromas, strawberry Jolly Rancher and red fruit flavors and an exuberant mouth feel, this is my pinot noir pick for the holidays. Suggested retail: $35
Domaine Wachau riesling Terrassen Smaragd, 2007 (Wachau, Austria): The largest winery in the Wachau, this cooperative works with 350 growers that go through a rigorous process and plenty of competition to have their grapes used in the wines. The cellar was built in 1695 and still has a trove of older vintages, some of which I have been lucky enough to try, so I have hope that this wine will age as well as some of its predecessors. A blend of fruit from several terraced vineyards, this wine has good intensity without being clunky and reveals almond, red banana and apple notes. Suggested retail: $32
Pamela S. Busch is the wine director and proprietor of CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen in San Francisco.