Holiday wine – pairing to the people

Dinner Party How To, Home Chef, Perfect Pairings, Wine — By KF Louis on November 15, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Ugh.  The first holiday wine pairing request just came in…which ones will go best with a Thanksgiving dinner featuring thyme-roasted turkey with gingered-cranberry stuffing?  My answer: beer and Boone’s Farm.  Gewurztraminer and Coke.  Pinot and Pelligrino.

I know that’s a wacky answer.  But I’m serious.  Thanksgiving dinner is NOT the place to play a headdy wine-to-food pairing game.  You can do that with a small group of oenophiles at another time.

Instead, the more important task at hand is similar to that of serving wine at most large parties — put a decent variety of wines out to please the guests (with diverse palates), and don’t break the bank.

Here’s why:

  • If your holiday gatherings are like mine, you’ve got a hodgepodge of drinkers at best.  Trying to please everyone’s palate, especially with different tastes and levels of sophistication, is a mighty task that would give any sommelier a headache.
  • Dinner is usually served potluck and family style rather than as a 5-course meal.  That makes for a lot of different flavors mish-mashed on one plate and careful pairings will easily get lost.
  • Aunt Edna probably doesn’t have the glassware in her china cabinet to support the tasting of a broad selection of wines during the meal.  Heck, it might even be Styrofoam cups!

So if you have a typical gathering where you are serving drinks to dozen or so friends and family, I suggest you pick a few $7-15 reds and whites, and then figure soda, beer, and bubbly water for the folks who don’t drink wine.  Open them all at once, keep your snobby wine talk to a minimum…then eat, drink, and be merry!

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