With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, there is no better time to start planning your Thanksgiving dinner menu and selecting wines to complement the feast. Historically, the week before Thanksgiving is a great time to buy wine, as many wine merchants run specials on preferred wines.
Now, if you're thinking of pairing a wine with all the Thanksgiving accoutrements - stop! That would be maddening. From appetizers, white and dark turkey meat, mashed potatoes, yams, herb-filled stuffing, cranberry relish, pickled this and peppered that, all the way to pumpkin or pecan pie and Cool Whip fruit salad, is there truly a single wine that can take you seamlessly from start to finish?
Enter sparkling wines, an increasingly popular pairing partner - and not just for the holidays. Sparkling wines bring both elegance and phenomenal food-pairing versatility to virtually any meal but with Thanksgiving, these wines really shine.
Look for dry (not sweet, like Moscato d'Asti), sparkling French or American wine.
The art of pairing wines with food is largely a matter of personal preference, and if you're not ready to try drinking Champagne throughout your entire dinner, there are other options. pinot noir, sangiovese and zinfandel (for red wine lovers) and sauvignon blanc, riesling, gewurztraminer and viognier (for those who prefer white wines) will all complement your Thanksgiving feast.
With white wines, the pairing priority is finding a wine with well-balanced acidity. With reds you are shooting for fairly mild tannins that will support the flavors of the food.
I recommend purchasing some red and some white, because with a large group of people, you will usually have a difference in personal preference.
If you still aren't comfortable going to the store and picking up a bottle of any of the above mentioned varietals, just ask someone working in the store. The employees of liquor stores are generally very knowledgeable (at least one person there will be) about wine, and many groceries (my local Safeway, for instance) have a beverage manager in the liquor department to help you with specific pairing questions.
• Robert Morris is owner and manager at East Valley restaurants Cork, BLD and Stax Burger Bistro. Reach him at (480) 883-3773 or CorkRestaurant.net