One of the most common questions that wine experts hear is what to serve for Thanksgiving. This is because wine, as a general rule, does not pair with turkey the way it pairs with beef, fish or chicken. One can’t lift one’s noise in the air, suggest a $40 cabernet, and move on to the next subject. Plus, turkey is gamier than chicken, which rules out many chicken-friendly wines. On the other hand, it’s not as gamey as venison, which, believe it or not, has its own associated wines (primarily pinot noir and red Burgundy).

Further complicating matters is that most Thanksgiving meals include lots of people, many of whom aren’t interested in wine or prefer sweet wines. So what’s a host to do? One solution is a well-chilled white jug wine like Glen Ellyn or Turning Leaf, which will please most of the non-wine drinkers and won’t offend any aficionados too badly. (And Thanksgiving is one time when it’s even suitable to serve a less sweet white zinfandel like DeLoach or Kenwood).

But anyone who wants to try a wine and food pairing might also want to consider:

• Alsace One 2002 ($10). This French white blend is made up of the grapes Alsace is famous for, including gewurztraminer, pinot gris and pinot blanc. This means it’s soft enough for sweet wine drinkers, but still tastes like wine. Serve well chilled.

• Rancho Zabaco Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2003 ($18). A touch expensive — but this is a holiday. This is a very sophisticated white wine that is citrusy like a New Zealand sauvignon blanc, but with a touch of mineral flavor like a French Sancerre. Serve chilled.

• Sanford’s Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Pinot Noir 2001 ($43). Regular readers of this space know that any wine that costs more than $20 must be exceptional to appear here. This California red is what a great pinot noir should be (and its sister wine, the $50 La Rinconada Vineyard 2001, is even better). Serve at room temperature.


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