Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 11:28 pm | Mostly Cloudy 44º


Laurie Jervis: Wines to Pair With Your Thanksgiving Meal

Every year during Thanksgiving week, the hand wringing commences. Cue the worry and uncertainty: What wine will we pair with our Thanksgiving meal?

Given the fact that millions across our great nation will share a table with family and friends come Thursday, I’d like to share thoughts on pairing good wine with a good, rich meal.

Fear not — the “rules” are simple: Traditional Thanksgiving meals of turkey, stuffing and vegetable side dishes are rich and buttery with a moderate dose of spice.

An optimal wine to pair with the meal would exhibit more acid than butter, more structure than flab and be more tannic than not.

Tannins come from the stems, skin and seeds of a grape cluster. Tannins turn one’s tongue “dry” with a dose of bitterness, astringency and complexity. Tannins make us “pucker” up when sipping a wine.

The more-tannic red wines generally are those that require more vine “hang time” for maturity, such as cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, tempranillo, nebbiolo, petit ​verdot and petite sirah.

Lower on the tannin scale are pinot noir, primitivo, grenache and merlot.

What about whites? While they are less tannic than reds, they can match red grape varietals on the structure scale.

In my humble opinion, the best white wine to pair with Thanksgiving and all the trimmings is one that can cut the fat to the bone, so to speak.

Try a sauvignon blanc, grenache blanc or a chenin blanc. Even chardonnay is a solid pick if it was aged with full- or half stainless steel. Think crisp — and less vanilla.

I asked a handful of friends and industry professionals to name their go-to Thanksgiving meal wine choices.

From Solvang resident and photographer Tenley Fohl, whose behind-the-lens focus is food and wine: “Our choice for a Thanksgiving wine is Kita Wines’ 2015 Grenache Rosé.”

This wine is sourced from the Chumash’s estate vineyard, Camp 4, and is aged for six months in stainless steel, according to tech notes from the winery.

Alison Thomson, owner of Lompoc-based Lepiane Wines and assistant winemaker for Jalama Cañon Ranch & Vineyard, detailed the delightful pairing she discovered during last year’s Thanksgiving celebration: Aged Champagne.

“It was so creamy and bubbly and a great palate cleanser,” she said.

The Italian wine grape varietal barbera would be another of Thomson’s go-to wines for the holiday.

“A barbera has lots of acid and lower tannins, but at the same time good structure,” she explained. “It’s refreshing and lively, which makes it good for Thanksgiving.”

Thomson produces three red varietals: barbera, grenache and nebbiolo.

Basically, she said, “One can’t go wrong with a couple of local red wines and champagne.”

Jody Williams, owner of Solvang’s Wandering Dog Wine Bar with her husband, Charles “CT” Williams, and his family, echoed Thomson’s suggestion for Thanksgiving Day bubbles.

“I always have plenty of sparkling wines on hand — I suggest prosecco if you want something fresh and vibrant, or blanc de blancs if you want something more dry and thought-provoking.”

Regarding a red-wine pairing, Williams offered a twist on the traditional choice of dry ​rosé or pinot noir.

“Try a domestic or French Gamay, also known as Gamay Beaujolais,” she said. “This is one of my favorite varietals as far as offering an interesting, fruity component, but not taking it as far as syrah or grenache do.”

Traditional Gamays are bright with fruit and light on the palate — consider it a happy-go-lucky red wine fit for a festival.

“The low tannins and moderate acidity in the Gamay make it super food friendly for a crowd, and not overpowering for Thanksgiving’s traditional seasonal dishes,” Williams said.

There you have it, wine fans. Be bold in your choices for the holiday; mix tried and true with bold and daring.

Should you discover a terrific pairing, be kind and share it with all of us, would you? Cheers to you and yours this Thanksgiving.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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