Tricks to blancing a full plate with a full glass

| Posted by colleen for Sutter Home

Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone!

I'm sure everyone is ready to break out their elastic-waisted pants, but before you get too comfortable at the table, we gotta make sure everyone is set with their wine selections for turkey day. I wouldn't be doing my due diligence if I didn't take a moment to answer a few questions that y'all have had regarding wine pairings for Thanksgiving!

We always get a handful of emails from people who have a special family recipe that they prepare for their Thanksgiving meal but since it maybe not be totally traditional, they are unsure on what wine to pair with it. Of course, we do get questions about wine pairings on traditional dishes as well, so here's a break down of what you might find in our glasses tomorrow:

*Warning: the following mentions lots of foods that are traditionally enjoyed around this time of year and reading before lunchtime may induce drooling. I'm just warning...*

Appetizers (anything ranging from a spinach dip in a bread bowl, to chips and salsa, to veggie trays and bowls of mixed nuts): We recommend Sauvignon Blanc. Here's where we get a little wine geeky and you can impress your guests with your pairing knowledge. Sauvignon Blanc is typically higher in acid and tastes very fresh and bright, which makes it a natural pairing for salads and, in this case, the apps that will grace your table.

Soups and Salads: This can sometimes be intimidating, because there are so many varieties of soups and salads but there are some rules of thumb that will help to ensure that your guests get to enjoy the best of both dining worlds--the food and the drink. Let's start with soups first:

With the weather changing from fall to winter, we got some emails from some people who are serving really hearty soups like chili or stews. If you think about what goes into the pot, that will help determine what goes into the glass. Chili has lots of tomatoes, beans and usually some type of meat. A good match here would be something with less acid, because the tomatoes carry the weight there. Tomatoes and Merlot are a natural pairing. If your soup is something with lots of veggies, Cabernet Sauvignon will match up.

If you're going with something lighter like a chicken broth-based soup, you could try a Chenin Blanc or have your guests continue enjoying their Sauvignon Blanc if you plan on serving a cream of chicken-style soup.

We got a note about someone recreating their grandmother's chowder for Thanksgiving this year but what to pair with it may prove to be more difficult that getting grandma's special touch to come through in the recipe. Never fear, a Chardonnay with a touch of oak will set your table right.

Now for salads: You probably just made a salad and the wine pairing wasn't how you determined what went into the bowl. That's ok, we can work with that! Here's a couple key ingredients that are often found in salads, that tend to work well with wines.

If your salad (or your dressing! Don't forget to think about your dressing!) has herbs, wines like Sauvignon Blanc, with herbal notes, will match up to your greens.

If you have a peppery-flavored salad, red Zinfandel will hold up, since it has peppery notes its own self.

Mushrooms and Pinot Noir both tend to have earthy notes, so they work well together.

If you ever find yourself in a bind and don't think your salad will pair well with any wines, we havve a quick fix. Add some dried fruits or nuts. These items share lots of commonalities with wine and can often act as an ingredient to bridge the food and wine gap. Think toasty nuts=toasty Chardonnay. On the fruit end of the spectrum, apples are a common aroma and flavor in Chardonnays, as are pears. Tropical fruits are also great with Gewürztraminer.

Lots of people use cheeses in their salads and cheeses can also help marry food and wine. Aged cheeses, like a parmesan, work well with aged Chardonnay (you see the symmetry).

Again, these are just guidelines--don't let anyone tell you that you don't have the right wine paired with the right course. If it tastes good to you, it is a good pairing! (That's my favorite rule. Take that snooty wine people!)

So what about dinner? Well, with so many savory dishes on the table, a smooth Pinot Noir is probably your safest bet, since it pairs with a wide range of dishes. It's smooth, making it a perfect mate to all the edible goodness to grace your plate. If you want to get a little fancier, or maybe your guests tend to prefer white wines, try a Gewürztraminer (pronounced Gah-vertz-tra-meener, or gah-vertz, which is way easier!). It's just a touch off-dry, and has hints of allspice, which are perfect for the season. Since it's a hit with sweet and savory flavored foods, it will go wonderfully with your turkey (or ham, if that's your preference!)

And then what to do with all those pies? Well, get the whipped cream ready and dig, of course! But what about a beverage to enjoy with them? Moscato has that touch of sweetness that makes it a natural dessert selection.

Again, none of these rules are set in stone. If someone brings a bottle to your table, pop the cork open and give with a whirl (and a sniff and sip!) and maybe you will find a new wine pairing that you enjoy more than you would have thought.

Gobble, gobble!

Yep, I closed the entry with that, you read right.

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