Thursday, November 24, 2011
Thanksgiving 2011 - Thinking about Wine Pairings
Thanksgiving dinner is the biggest meal of the year for your average foodie. I, however, am not cooking it. Actually, I rarely cook Thanksgiving dinner- usually we eat with relatives. I did not cook a thing- not even the pies for dessert. I do usually get asked to carve the turkey- I don't claim to be great at it, but I usually do a passable job. I did, however, have the responsibility for choosing the wine. The problem is, aside from having some semblance of a palate, I am not very knowledgeable about wine, so I took a few best guesses...
My plan was simple- go for at least one red and one white to cover individual preferences, and if something else looks interesting, add a third bottle for a little variety. I'm targeting the mid priced wines- usually anything between $12 and $20 for a domestic wine gets you something fairly good, and add a few dollars more to this range for domestic. I am not choosing wines for a room full of expert somnambulists - just a group of regular people with enough sense to tell when something works and when something doesn't- so I don't have to pull off a miracle, just pick something good that works with the usual, heavy Thanksgiving feast on some level.
For me, this bottle was everything I would expect from a good California chardonnay - smooth and fruity, light and refreshing, but still with enough body to stand up to a heavier meal. Thanksgiving dinner was still a little heavier a meal than this wine should probably be paired with, but it still seemed to work.
All three of these wines seem to be good, solid choices that are also affordable. Wine tasting can be a very deep subject, but it's one that you shouldn't ignore if you have a love of food and dining. Without going too overboard into territory best left to serious somnambulists, trying different wines, and thinking about how they pair with your food is never a bad idea. The same could be said for other drinks- beers, spirits, and even high-quality juices all have a wide range of flavor profiles that pair with foods in different ways- maybe its a contrasting flavor that hits the spot, or maybe it's a complementary flavor that does it. Whatever your preference, the best path to discovery is to experiment- try different pairings, think about what works and what doesn't, and try some more. It will expand your appreciation of both your beverage of choice, and the food you pair it with- and if your personal tastes and perceptions are very different than what the pros say- so be it- it's your food and wine experience, not theirs! Make it your own.