The Austin Chronicle

Wine of the Week: Wine and Cocktail Pairings for Thanksgiving

By Wes Marshall, November 23, 2012, Food

Pairing wine or cocktails with a food is much less daunting than most people think. There's nothing wrong with pairing a Sauvignon Blanc with a steak, and it's just fine to drink a walloping Sonoma Zinfandel with your roasted turkey. For the courageous, nothing beats serving a surprising drink, so we've recommended Texas liquors as well as wines from some fairly obscure grapes. As long as you and your guests are happy, you've been successful. If you really fret over a perfect meal, there are a few rules that can help.

Champagne goes with everything. Both the carbonation and the acidity cleanse your palate with every sip. Thanksgiving calls out for either a Blanc de Noir (they are made from Pinot Noir) or a Rosé.

Riesling is second only to Champagne in its chameleonlike ability to go with everything. I'm partial to the versions from Austria and France's Alsace, but there are also good versions from Texas.

Wines from the Rhone Valley in France tend to offer flavors and aromas that match up nicely with Texas tastes. Their white wines are stout enough to stand up to a ham and their red wines offer enough acidity and fruitiness to match well with turkey, so it's hard to go wrong with a Rhone.

Be thankful to the movie Sideways. It ruined the Merlot market, so you can find stunning bargains, and Merlot just happens to be one of the best red wines for Thanksgiving fare.

A big-boned, fruity Zinfandel is also ideal with Thanksgiving's traditional offerings.

To keep your money in Texas, any of the wines recommended with the recipes will offer generous flavors, and we've pretested them for their pairing ability with the specific dishes. The cocktails all have a fruit component – apples or limes – so as long as the food would benefit from either an apple or a lime, you are set.

If all else fails, just drink what you like with the foods you like. Since both make you happy separately, they should do the same in tandem. Don't be afraid to test your own ideas. Remember, if you aren't having fun doing this, you are taking it all too seriously.

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