Turkey and wine

Best Wines to Pair With Turkey

Thanksgiving is all about coming together with friends and family to give thanks and show appreciation for all of the blessings in your life, and if you’re like us, one of those blessings is an incredible glass of wine. Your turkey dinner is an amazing time to sit and truly enjoy some great wine pairings. Ultimately, wine pairing is a matter of personal preference. While it’s great to try new things, if you know you absolutely hate a Zinfandel, try the less intense Pinot Noir instead. The only real rule to wine pairing is to do what makes you, and your palate, happy. That being said, we’ve got some guidelines as to where you might want to begin your search for the perfect wine/turkey pairings.

Champagne/ Sparkling Wines/ Rose
If you want a super simple pairing that will work with everything served from appetizers to dessert, look to Champagne, Rose and other sparkling wines. Sparkling wines have an acidity level that makes them easy to pair with dishes filled with herbs, cranberries and turkey. The effervescent quality of Champagne and sparkling wines help them to cut through truly rich foods like that gorgeous pecan pie.

Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is perhaps the most traditional red wine pairing when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. It has a lighter body than red wines like Cabernet and is softer on the palate than a Merlot. Pinot Noir typically features lush, berry fruits with an earthy undertone that pairs well with everything from the turkey to the cranberry sauce.

Zinfandel
Nicknamed the All-American grape, Zinfandel is another versatile red that pairs well with not just your turkey, but other trimmings on the table. Zinfandel is fuller in body than Pinot Noir and has a more intense flavor profile. As with Pinot Noir, Zinfandel has impressive fruit notes and it also features a bit of spice, both of which make it an excellent accompaniment to herb-laden dressings and both white and dark meat turkey.

Chardonnay
Another traditional Thanksgiving wine, Chardonnay is a pretty standard white at the table. An oaked Chardonnay has a round mouthfeel and is usually a bit creamy. The toasty oak flavors combine well with holiday classics like mashed potatoes and gravy and of course, your turkey. If you aren’t a fan of oaked Chardonnay, an un-oaked version of this white wine features more crisp citrus and apple flavors.

Riesling
Depending upon the Riesling, you may find that it is quite sweet or very dry, but the flavor profile of Riesling’s make them an excellent white wine choice for Thanksgiving dinner. Fruits such as apricots and apples and hints of delicious honey make this wine a great pairing for your sweet potato casserole as well as your turkey.

Remember that when it comes to wine, your tastes and preferences are more important than sticking to traditional wines that you don’t enjoy. If you feel adventurous, try pairing a few wines with your meal. Serve rose with appetizers, Pinot Noir or Riesling for dinner and finish with a sparkling wine. Savor your wine and your time with family and friends by picking a wine pairing that is meant for turkey.

Servers pouring red and white wine.

A Guide to Common Wine Varietals

The enjoyment of a great glass of wine is one of life’s simplest pleasures, though sometimes it may not seem simple to select your wine. Wines are available in so many varieties and have so many subtle, and not so subtle, differences that it can be downright overwhelming when you start to select wines. Often, when buying a Riesling or a Cabernet Sauvignon, you know what you are getting; which is wine produced using the Riesling or Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. But if you pick up a bottle with the word “varietal” on the label you may not be positive what it is that you’re choosing. Simply put, varietal means that the wine was produced using a specific wine grape. Further, in the United States, wine varietals indicate which grape is the dominant grape in the wine so that you have an idea of what flavor to expect. Some, but not all, bottles even include the percentages for every grape used in the blend. To make you more confident in your next wine purchase, Resveralife composed a guide to the most common wine varietals.

White Wines
Chardonnay – Wines produced using the Chardonnay grape are often medium to full bodied and complex. The most prominent notes in Chardonnays tend to be citrus fruits, melon, pineapples, peaches, butterscotch, butter and vanilla. There are other notes available such as apple, fig, pear, spice and hazelnut.

Riesling – With origins in Germany, Riesling is a grape that grows well in all wine districts. These wines are most typically fruity, fresh apple flavors are particularly prominent, and can be floral as well. Riesling ranges from dry to very sweet, with many having a semi-sweet taste with an acidity for balance.

Sauvignon Blanc – Sauvignon Blanc wines tend to be herbal and quite light. The herbal flavors often are reminiscent of grass or bell peppers. Sour fruits such as apple, pear and gooseberry or tropical fruits and blackcurrant, may also be present. Sauvignon Blanc wines tend to be crisp with a strong acidity.

Red Wines
Cabernet Sauvignon – One of the world’s most popular wines, Cabernet Sauvignons are full-bodied and complex. These wines tend to be a bit dry and firm. Flavors can range from currant, plum, black cherry and spice to olive, peppers, herbs, tobacco, vanilla and mint, to name a few. The oak barrels in which Cabernet Sauvignon wines are aged are responsible for vanilla or toasty cedar flavors the wine may have.

Pinot Noir – Another immensely popular red wine, Pinot Noir is fresh and delicate. These wines are smooth, rich and have soft tannins. The most prevalent notes of Pinot Noir wines are raisins with undertones of black cherry, raspberry and spice.

Merlot – Merlot is a supple and smooth wine with a round texture and very soft tannins. The popularity of this wine is caused by its ease of pairing (nearly anything can be paired with a Merlot) and its softness, which is not what one associates with many red wines. Wines produced using Merlot grapes feature cherry, black cherry, herbs, green olive and chocolate.

The wine selection process is a bit easier when you have a bit of background knowledge of common wine varietal. The label on a varietal wine will indicate which grape is the dominant grape in the blend, and may indicate the other grapes used as well. However, it is not required, and indeed it is illegal for a wine to label itself as a varietal is there is no dominant (75% or higher) grape used. When the word “varietal” is present on a label, it indicates what you can expect regarding flavor and finish. Branch out and try a different wine varietal for a new, and delicious, experience.

Resveralife Eat Well: Pinot Noir Pairings

Pinot noir is produced from a red wine grape from the species Vitis vinifera or Pinot noir may be made from predominantly Pinot noir grapes. Pinot noir grapes are grown worldwide, mostly in climates that are cool. The most frequently associated region with Pinot noir grapes is the Burgundy region of France though other regions of note include the Willamette region of Oregon, the Russian River American Viticultural Areas of California and Tasmani and Yarra Valley in Australia. Pinot noir consumption continues to rise in popularity as it is a lighter wine with a lower alcohol content that many wines.

Another reason for the popularity of Pinot noir is the versatility of the wine. Pinot noir is one of the most versatile wines when it comes to food pairings. There are foods that combine with any Pinot noir, while other foods depend upon the particular type of Pinot noir and the preparation of the food. The world of food and wine pairings is no longer limited to red wine with meats and white wine with fish. Modern food and wine pairings are far more creative and a bit more complex. The Resveralife Eat Well Guide features some of the absolute best food pairings for the Pinot noir wine.

Mushrooms and baked potatoes.

Mushrooms
Mushrooms invariably pair well with Pinot noir because they have an earthy, meaty taste. Mushrooms, like the portobello mushroom, often have a meaty taste and texture, which works perfectly with a robust and meaty wine. If you feel ambitious, you can pair your Pinot noir with portobello topped steak, bringing out the richness of both. If you are looking for fare that is a bit lighter, consider a twist on an Italian classic:  mushroom bruschetta. All that is required to make this classic food is a crusty, Italian bread, mushrooms, olive oil, garlic and herbs to suit your taste, such as thyme. For an even more low-key evening, pair your Pinot noir with a hearty mushroom pizza.

Freshly cooked peking duck dish with chopsticks.

Duck
Duck pairs perfectly with Pinot noir for two main reasons. The first reason is that duck has a strong flavor on its own and the second is that duck has a higher fat content than chicken. Even though Pinot noir has light tannins, compliment the fattiness of duck. One pairing that wine enthusiasts rave about is Pinot nNoir with Peking duck. A simpler to prepare pairing is roast duck with Pinot noir.

Salmon with a garnish of wild rice and basmati braised in celery, carrots and onions.

Fish
One of the most popular fish pairings with Pinot Noir is salmon. Though duck pairs well with Pinot noir for the fat content, Pinot is versatile and it also pairs equally well lighter choices such as salmon. Salmon pairs well with Pinot noir because it is a fish with a high oil content and a strong flavor. Salmon would overwhelm a white wine, but it pairs perfectly with the more rich Pinot noir. Preparing an oven roasted salmon with a butter sauce is an easy way to impress your taste buds. Other fishes can be paired with Pinot noir, providing they are a strong flavored fish. Some other fishes that can be paired with Pinot noir include anchovies, herring and mackerel.

Yellow curry with pumpkin and pork.

Pork
Pork, particularly roasted or grilled, pair well with Pinot noir. Pork and Pinot noir both share a sweet type of succulence and smoky undertones. Additionally, the fruitier notes of the Pinot noir bring out the sweet, the tangy and the savory flavors of pork. Pork and Pinot noir is such a popular pairing that there is an annual festival in Sonoma County, Pigs & Pinot, devoted entirely to the pairing of this food and drink.

Pinot noir is one of the best food wines because it pairs well with such a diverse array of foods. Resveralife recommends you to have fun trying different recipes and experimenting with food pairings for your Pinot noir.