Tasting Notes with Jim Beauregard: What will you be drinking at Thanksgiving?

By JIM BEAUREGARD November 14. 2017 9:23PM

The first of the big end of the year holidays is just around the corner, when we will all be getting together over turkey and various and sundry accompaniments.

So, of course, something needs to be said about pairing of wines and beers with food — with Thanksgiving food, that is. As we have touched on in this column before, the notion of pairing can be either same or different: choosing a wine or beer that complements the food on the one hand, or on the other hand, choosing something that stands in contrast to it, highlighting the pleasures of both.

In each of these cases, one thing that pairing always considers is what chefs refer to as the “center of the plate.” On Thanksgiving, the center of the plate is most likely going to be turkey. So what are the best beers and the best wines to pair with turkey, taking into account all of the other things that may be on the plate?

In the beer domain when we are dealing with a white meat in the center of the plate, one might think about a German, Bohemian or classic American Pilsner, possibly an Oktoberfest, perhaps a German wheat beer, or some Belgian ales, more in the Tripel ballpark as those tend to be a bit lighter in color. A Belgian blonde ale would fit the bill as well.

One could, of course, also think about fruit beers, things with cranberry-type flavors in them. In addition, one can also think about mead as a possibility. Ciders, also come to mind. All in all, the possibilities truly are endless.

And for wines, turkey tends to pair well with white wines — white Burgundy, Chardonnay (the kind made in steel rather than oak) Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, or, if you are in the mood for something red, a lighter red can fit the bill, such as Beaujolais. A lighter, fruitier Pinot Noir (California rather than France) can also do the trick. In addition, fruit wines can come to the fore at this time of year — think of a cranberry wine in this case.

Then there’s dessert. This is a place where beer can be a good pairing, especially a pumpkin ale with its rich spices. It wouldn’t necessarily be the time to seek out heavier beers, stouts and so on, because by this point one is likely to be full or pretty close to it.

So, with that in mind, Happy Thanksgiving!

Contact wine and beer writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh@aol.com.


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