A Holiday Food and Wine Pairing Guide from our Winery Chef, Dominic Orsini.
Thanksgiving is every chef’s favorite holiday. I find myself thinking about what I am going to prepare for the Holiday as soon as the first leaves start to fall off the trees. Should I roast or deep fry the turkey this year? What’s my dressing going to be made with? Apple, Leeks and Pumpernickel bread, or Focaccia with Italian sausage like my grandmother used to make? Thanksgiving presents so many opportunities to prepare a meal that is traditional and nostalgic or create something soulful, fresh and new.
However, the question I often struggle with is one that I think most people face when trying to plan out their Thankgsgiving meal; what wines should I enjoy with the dinner? The holiday table is an array of flavors to tend with. Aunt Susie’s green bean casserole, uncle Fred’s spicy yams, not to mention Grandma’s cranberry sauce! Trying to pick a single wine that can pair perfectly with so many disparate flavors and textures can be daunting. So if you start feeling ovrwhelmed, just do what I do: Drink what you like!
I usually begin with a fresh, crisp Sauvignon Blanc to start things off. A Sauvignon Blanc with bright, acid character, and subtle minerality, like our Twomey Sauvignon Blanc, stands up wonderfully with a variety of flavors and is great to sip on as I am putting the finishing touches on dinner.
Although, I’m really a red wine drinker, so I usually like to ease into a glass of Pinot Noir. Pinot’s have a nice medium body that can be stretched in so many directions with flavors and richness which makes it a nice option for that broad array of flavors found on a Thanksgiving table. We'll always enjoy some artisan cheeses at our table which I like to savor with a glass of our Soda Canyon Vineyard Merlot. The dark fruit aroma and well-structured tannins pair well with well-aged cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano, 5 year Goudas, and Farm-house Cheddars.
Finally, I know most people like to pair some Cabernet with dinner, but personally, nothing caps a night off like a full glass of our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon while I sit in front of the fire with my wife and we watch our boys play and visit with friends and family. This wine's rich body and fruit-forward aromas create a perfect way to unwind after a full day spent in the kitchen preparing a meal for the people I love.