There is probably no other event in the wine world that evokes as much stress as choosing the right bottle for Thanksgiving dinner. Normal, educated people become confounded over the possibility of making a faux pas with the dinner wine. What wine will go best with the turkey? Will the guests like it? And what, God forbid, if the wine is bad? Let’s try to reduce the stress by considering some suggestions.
We can start by deciding on what wine goes best with turkey. A recent article in Wine Spectator asked that question of 15 wine directors and sommeliers. A majority of them chose Beaujolais, a light French red wine, while others chose Vouvray or riesling , both light semi-sweet white wines.
I would agree, but add to the list a dry white wine such as a sauvignon blanc, or a rosé, because of its popularity. Keep in mind: We are trying to balance the entire dinner, not just the turkey. Turkey is somewhat bland, so, over time, cooks have added gravy, stuffing, cranberries and other accoutrements to spice it up and make it more palatable. Therefore, each of these wines are light enough to balance the meal yet not overpower it.
The Vouvray, riesling, and rosé have a mild sweetness that will complement the gravy and enhance the turkey. The fruitiness of the sauvignon blanc will accomplish the same balance, but appeal to guests who prefer a dry wine. If you use sausage or other meat stuffing, and must have a red wine, consider a Chianti or pinot noir. Both wines are light enough to complement the turkey and appeal to the red wine lovers. If your dinner choice is roast beef instead, a nice cabernet sauvignon or merlot will suffice.
If you still feel unsure of the reception your choice will make, why not ask guests to bring their own wines? No one is going to complain about something he or she brought. But under no circumstances should you encourage a home winemaker to bring a bottle. That's a recipe for disaster.
Lastly, do not worry about the wine being bad. It is highly unlikely. To ease your trepidation, choose wines with screwcaps. They are easy to open and are rarely off. Remember that each bottle contains four to five glasses, so having more is better than not enough. A good idea would be to have a bottle of red and one of white for four people and adjust accordingly for more guests.
If these hints are not sufficient to ease your mind, consider having your meal at a restaurant. Many Sarasota venues have special Thanksgiving menus and some offer private rooms. Of course, picking a restaurant that will please everyone might be even more stressful than picking the right wine.