This past Thanksgiving we were blessed to be invited to a dear friend’s house. This was the first time in years that we were just able to enjoy the feast and company of friends without the messy clean-up that comes with entertaining in our own home. I did not have to stuff the turkey or roll up my sleeves at the sink trying to get the baking pan clean. My joy was short lived when my wife made the Thanksgiving announcement that, “Everyone is invited to our house for a big December holiday feast”. There was a resounding cheer at the gathering from everyone at the table. Hands were raised and voices heard to say, “We will be there”. At the last count we had fifteen couples, my daughter, two grandkids and one obnoxious “grand-dog” called Bones.
When December rolled around, my wife started preparations immediately. First, we had to do spring cleaning in December, which included walls, furnace registers, base boards, floors, etc. The next step was the obligatory decorations that needed to be scattered around the house, including an ornate light display for the outside that had me untangling and hanging lights for days. I was sent to the Party Store to rent tables, chairs and huge serving platters for the food. My final assignment was to get “The Birds” and the wine to go with it. I was beginning to wish we had entertained at Thanksgiving.
Before I left to do the shopping, my wife told me, “Make sure you talk to someone at the wine store so you get the right wine to compliment the turkey”. I said, “Why didn’t you ask everyone to bring their own wine, instead of us risking that we wouldn’t buy their favorite?” My wife raised her voice at least one octave and replied, “We are doing the entertainment so it is our responsibility not theirs and besides I want everything to be just perfect”. I love my wife dearly and I have learned when it is best to just say, “Yes Dear”. Before I left, I hopped on the computer and did my research so I could portray to the wine store clerk how knowledgeable I was about pairing turkey with wine. I didn’t want to embarrass myself at the wine store.
The general consensus from the web research was for a lighter red (not over burdened with tannins) or several white wines that tended to be fruity and slightly sweeter. Another caution, that seems well advised, is during dinner stick with wines lower in alcohol content. Northhamptonwines.com stated, “Save the 15 percent alcohol ‘in your face Zins’ for after dinner when it is OK for folks to go to sleep.”
The top choices I found for red wine lovers were Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz and Red Zinfandel. White wine enthusiasts might enjoy a Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Beaujolais Nouveau or White Burgundy. If some of your guests have a sweet-tooth, then try White Zinfandel or Cranberry Wine. Save the desert wines for after the main meal when it is time to devour the pumpkin and pecan pie.
Not everyone is a wine drinker. I also ran across some advice for people for pairing turkey with beer and cocktails. The consensus was that a beer should be complex but not over bearing. A good choice might be pale ale from one of the smaller breweries. Another website suggested that for the cocktail drinkers, gin cocktails like an English Rose, Park Avenue or Verbena Martini would work.
I went to the wine store and made my selections with an air of “I know what I am doing”. When I arrived home my wife said, “What wine did you decide on?” I smiled and told her, “One of each, a total of 12 bottles”. She exclaimed, “We won’t be able to serve all that wine at dinner!” I responded, “I wouldn’t think of doing that. I am going to raffle off any that we don’t serve.” My wife grabbed her forehead and walked away stating, “What I am I going to do with you.” I let her have the final word and started preparing the raffle tickets.
I always maintain that there are a lot of people that will tell you what wine to pair with what food. In the end, as I always say, buy the wine you like, store wine properly in a wine refrigerator, serve it at the proper temperature and enjoy it immensely.
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Ronald Senn is currently Vice-president of Ideal Wine Coolers. Ron served in the U.S. Navy from 1966-1970. Ron graduated from the University of Arizona with BS and MS Degrees. Ron is retired from the U.S. Forest Service after serving over 30 years.
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