Food and wine matching for Thanksgiving meals

What wines will you choose this Thanksgiving?

What wines will you choose this Thanksgiving? - Credit: Archant

Autumn with its shorter days and glorious leaf colours is here and with it we turn to more robust-flavoured food which in turn demand more robust wines.

Casseroles, winter roast vegetables, notably root vegetables and mashed potatoes with comfort puddings such as crumbles and fruit pies to finish - menus including these dishes are often found in Thanksgiving menus.

Thanksgiving Day this year is on Thursday November 28; it is held on the fourth Thursday in November and has been a tradition in the United States since 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated during the Civil War.

The classic menu for Thanksgiving in current times includes starters such as butternut squash soup or salad, followed by a turkey with a full-flavoured stuffing and gravy plus side dishes including green bean casserole, spicy sprouts, sweet potato bake and macaroni cheese. The favourite desserts are pecan pie and pumpkin bread pudding.

Initially, trying to find wines to complement the mélange of flavours in these dishes can seem to be quite a challenge but the key to finding a good food and wine match is identifying the key ingredient and how it's cooked.

To accompany butternut squash soup or other root vegetables such as parsnips and carrots a rounded textured white wine is ideal, such as an oaky Chardonnay which has a lovely mouthfilling soft texture with tropical fruit and vanilla flavours including a South African example from Rustenberg. Alternatively the Painted Wolf Penny Viognier from South Africa is a glorious mouthfilling peachy wine that would be great with this soup.

The main course is full of different flavours and though turkey is the main element the strongest flavours will come from the herbs and spices used to flavour the side dishes and the sauces. Often the best solution in such a situation is to start with your favourite style of red or white wine and consider if that will complement the flavours.

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If you like Cabernet Sauvignon choose one with soft ripe tannins such as those from California from Hahn Estates or the lovely Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir with ripe, soft, slightly-sweet mushroom and pepper notes is a great match. A California Zinfandel with briary damson notes such as that from Scotto are also worth trying.

White wines need to be big wines to match all the main course flavours so try a Californian Chardonnay such as that Hahn Estates in Monterey or a fabulous mouthfilling Limoux Chardonnay with soft rich ripe fruits.

For dessert the luscious richness of pecan pie or pumpkin pie can overwhelm an light dessert wine so go for something enough complexity and richness to match it. This can be found in a botrytis Semillon such as the Deen de Bortoli Vat 5 or its big brother Noble One from Australia, Madeira especially a Malmsey would be worth trying too.

Using the above as a style guide try your own combinations of food and wine for Thanksgiving - it's fun to find a delicious food and wine pairing.