Nothing pairs better with family holiday gatherings than copious amounts of wine. For every malady in life, we are taught that God created a solution. Often these solutions have remained hidden.
For family angst, God has given us wine. For this, I thank thee!
As you sit to feast and recount the goodness in your life, we want to pair some wines with the staples of the day: the vegetable sides of beans, asparagus or Brussels sprouts, the (hopefully homemade) cranberry relish, and of course, the centerpiece, all-American turkey.
So let’s think reds that offer nice fruit, while not being overly acidic or tannic, but with some spice to it. The classic choices are Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. As for whites, even if reds are more your thing, it’s nice to have “accent bottles” with which to pair the side dishes.
Whites: 2018 Domaine de Panquelaine Sancerre ($28) from France’s Loire Valley in central France. This flinty, tropical fruit-laden Sauvignon Blanc will serve as a palate cleanser to your uncle’s unpopular political opinions.
The 2017 Or Haganuz Amuka Gewurztraminer ($18) serves as a perfect middle ground for those who don’t love dry whites while satisfying those that do, and as a wine that can stand up to turkey, stuffing and relish. This Israeli wine from the Galil is loaded with peach/nectarine, while maintaining enough acid to balance out the natural sweetness of the Gewurztraminer.
“Riesling goes with everything!” Yes, I live and pair by that motto. Thanksgiving is no different. Hagafen Cellars of Napa, California, makes both a dry and semi-dry Riesling. And they are both delightful. So pick up either a bottle of the 2016 Hagafen Lake County White Riesling ($18) or the 2018 Hagafen Dry Riesling ($20) to pair with just about anything at your meal.
Reds: Let’s cover the two classic turkey pairings of Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. While I feel there aren’t a tremendous variety of good kosher Pinot Noirs, there are certainly still some enjoyable ones. One of the inexpensive but still very-quaffable choices is 2016 Gilgal Pinot Noir ($13). This Israeli red displays a nose of berries, but is light in body and tannins while still offering some Mediterranean spice.
As for Zinfandel, shamefully there is also a paucity of great options in the kosher world. Still, the 2016 Twin Suns Reserve Zinfandel ($30) offers a big wine, rich with spice and smoke. If you decide to smoke your bird, this is probably the perfect choice to accompany.
Dessert: Are there other desserts on Thanksgiving than pumpkin pie? Perhaps, but my gaze always wanders back to this traditional, once-a-year (for me), creamy, warm and rich dessert. An old favorite of mine is the 2018 Notte Italiano Prosecco ($16), which will cut the sweetness of the pie filling.
Prosecco is often mistaken as “Champagne,” and while there are certainly similarities, Prosecco is made with different grapes and hails from Italy (not Champagne, France). Though the Notte Italiano is dry (really not “extra dry” as they claim), there’s plenty of fruit on the palate to make it seem off-dry to many.
Enjoy your annual gathering and raise a glass to say thanks to those around you for all they do to maintain your sanity even when you’re not drinking wine. As for those who exacerbate your anxiety, raise a second or third glass in turn. Happy Thanksgiving!
Dr. Kenneth Friedman is a Baltimore-born kosher wine aficionado/connoisseur. He is known for his unsolicited wine advice and runs many local kosher wine tastings.