Every November, across the United States, wine writers and wine lovers will ponder the perennial conundrum: What’s the best wine to serve at Thanksgiving?
And as the countless articles, columns, and blog posts devoted to the subject reveal (from Eric Asimov’s annual Thanksgiving column in the New York Times to scores and scores of citizen bloggers who will offer their recommendations), it’s no easy task.
Thanksgiving is the quintessential American celebration of holiday cooking and the dishes range from sweet and sour (like sweet potato pie and cranberry sauce) to the salty, fatty, and savory (like the roast or smoked turkey and the stuffing or dressing, made from bread or cornbread depending on what part of the country you live in). And to make matters worse — well, not worse, but more challenging, let’s say — all the dishes are served simultaneously.
So what wine is up to the task of pairing well with all the above-mentioned foods and more? And perhaps more importantly, what wine is up to the task of pleasing the wide range of wine loving guests that will attend your Thanksgiving? After all, Thanksgiving celebrations tend to be large affairs with aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and grandparents all included. Among those guests, there will be wine aficionados and newbie wine lovers, opionated connoisseurs and folks who just want a good glass of wine.
One element in the equation that’s easy to resolve is whether or not to serve red or white wine. In the case of Thanksgiving, red is definitely the way to go. Americans in general are red wine lovers. And especially when it comes to people who don’t regularly drink wine, red wine is generally their preference.
The next element to consider is acidity. The Thanksgiving feast craves a wine with healthy acidity because of the wide variety of flavors on the table and the unusual blend of sweet, sour, and savory that only comes with the day of thanks.
The third element (at least in this wine blogger’s view) is fruit: You need a wine that delivers rich fruit flavors to go with the classic dishes of Thanksgiving but you also need a wine that delivers approachability, accessibility, and familiarity.
As much as I love Brunello di Montalcino with my roast turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy, a young Brunello is going to be too tannic and tight for many of the guests at our family’s Thanksgiving. An old Brunello, unfortunately, will be lost on some of the guests who are not accustomed to drinking aged red wines. And of course, Brunello is not an inexpensive option when it comes to serving a lot of people a lot of wine.
And that brings me to Rosso di Montalcino, with its bright fruit flavors, zinging acidity, and lithe texture. It could possibly be the world’s great Thanksgiving wine.
And the best part of all is that it’s from Tuscany, the one wine region that everyone in America knows. Year after year, I’ve repeatedly found that Rosso di Montalcino fits the bill like no other wine I know.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends in the U.S.!