Part of planning for the Thanksgiving meal is deciding on what to drink. What should you serve as an aperitivo? What goes best with turkey? And the sides? What goes well with dessert? Cheese course?
Rather than perseverate on what pairs best with the particular dishes you’re serving, why not just offer what you like, and not worry so much if those choices match the food.
Perhaps there is such a thing as a perfect pairing, such as marcona almonds and manzanilla sherry, but you could drive yourself crazy trying to achieve this elusive nirvana. Better to focus on phases of the meal and a broader variety of choices. Allow your guests to experiment with different wines and let their tastes decide for themselves.
If you’re thinking cocktails, a classic Gin Tonic gets the juices flowing and signals the good time ahead. Or a Spanish Negroni – choose from our selection of Spanish gins and vermuts, with the newly acquired Bonanto aperitivo (Campari substitute).
If cocktails are not your thing, for starters, a dry sherry like a fino or manzanilla works well, especially if you plan on setting out some finger foods and light snacks. Or reach for a bottle of vermut, a great appetite opener if there ever was one. Sparkling wine such as Cava and pét-nats never fail to please, with the added bonus of being very food versatile and lasting throughout the meal. Sparkling wine is the answer to virtually every tough food pairing (yes, even artichokes!).
With rosados, blancos, and tintos, consider all three. Rosados with some bottle age and structure work surprising well, and in Spain the clarete (red and white grapes co-fermented) is a worthy option.
For reds and whites, the sky is the limit. A mix of natural wines (no fining, filtration, little or zero added S02, often biodynamically farmed) and more traditional wines can coexist at the same table.
Albariños from Galicia, Xarel-lo wines from Catalonia, Verdejos from Rueda and a host of white wines made with native white grapes from the Canary Islands will liven up the table. Riojas and Ribera del Duero wines are huge crowd pleasers, but don’t sleep on high altitude Garnacha from Gredos and Mencía reds from Bierzo. If you’re planning on heartier meat dishes, look to Toro and the Priorat, or choose from any number of aged reservas that we carry.
There’s no reason to open only one bottle at a time. Open them all up, and let your guests mix and match, giving the opportunity to taste different dishes with different wine styles. Whatever bottles remain unfinished can be corked and refrigerated, often tasting better the next day with leftovers. And don’t forget orange (skin-contact) wines, which have the heft to pair with savory dishes, including turkey. This is the time for experimentation and exploration. You and your guests might find that a wine that you normally would not be into, works really well with that stuffing.
By the time cheese and dessert time rolls around, the same strategy can be employed. Remaining white and red wines on the table work well with cheese, in addition to sweet wines such as moscatels, PX, and amoroso (medium) sherries, as well as sweet monastrell wines.
For sobremesa, the time spent at the table after a long meal, relaxing and talking among friends and family, break out the Pacharan, anise, brandy, whisky and orujo to aid in digestion. Don't forget to pour yourself a glass - You've earned it.