f you are laboring to figure out which is the best wine to serve with your roasted turkey and looking for a little direction, let us help you with a few simple and less dogmatic pointers about what to consider and what not to worry about before you delve into the world of ratings, scores and blog advice.
Wine Dinner or Holiday Dinner
Unless your holiday meal is just a festive backdrop for a gathering of wine enthusiasts intent on testing your wine acumen, there really is no best single wine per se. Second, if your family and friends find their way to your table every year because your menu and cooking are the main attraction, let the wine share the same purpose and status as a good side dish. Save buying or pulling out the best bottles for dinners that are intended to be about the wine as much, if not more, than the food.
A Veritable Feast for the Senses
If you build your dinner around the bird like the rest of us, with all the fruits of your labor laid out at one time, your holiday spread is likely a feast of tantalizing aromas and tastes, not to mention textures and temperatures all begging and worthy of attention. Forget about the turkey for a minute, because almost any wine, save for a few overpowering reds, will go nicely with it. Think instead about all the wonderful elements that you assembled to complement it; like the earthy black truffle bits and salty, buttery goodness in the mashed potatoes; the fragrant apples, almonds and woodsy sage of the wild boar sausage in the dressing; the roasted Brussels sprouts with ventrèche, savory chanterelles sautéed with shallots, and the rich, velvety brown pan gravy. All followed closely by yams in brown sugar and bourbon under toasty marshmallows; ginger and orange peel in your mother’s tart cranberry sauce and the heady spices in your vegan sister-in-law’s curried tofurkey loaf.
Take Note of the Notes
Now, just relax and don’t drive yourself crazy trying to think about pairing to all of those elements individually. For the complexity of this kind of holiday fare a single white wine, with some structure, balance and acidity is the best ticket. For the simplest solution, just read the flavor notes, think fruit forward and Pinot Noir grapes first. Look for descriptions of fruit aromas and tastes with bright acidity at the front end of the description that you feel are pleasantly complementary, much in the way you put together your menu. Keeping to fruit notes and prominent acidity will help to balance out the components of the wine and the meal.
For a white, consider an aromatic and bright Pinot Gris or a medium bodied Pinot Blanc. Some think that champagne is too delicate for a meal, but a rosé Champagne has the fruit, high acidity yet savory elements from the red grapes that make for a festive and delicious pairing. A good sparkling wine also has the high acidity and one made of Pinot Noir grapes, or even a good Pinot Noir Rosé would also be a great choice. Prefer a different grape? A dry, fruit forward Riesling or less assertive, more citrusy Sauvignon Blanc without the oak would also fill the bill. For a good red choice instead, or as, a second offering, you guessed it, a fruit forward Pinot Noir or Syrah.
One more thing to keep in mind, if your holiday is really about breaking bread in the company of family and friends, the more friends and family that you are serving, the less ambitious your choice of bottle should be. Just remember that you get about five 5-ounce servings per bottle, and then do the math.