Tonight we pretested Thanksgiving dinner. I figured I would be spending a while thinking about the ideal wine to pair with the meal.
However, within just a few minutes I realized the decision was going to be rather easy. I would just need to decide what producer of Zinfandel I was going to go with because Zin is the ideal pick if you are serving just one varietal with Thanksgiving dinner.
Think about it. On Thanksgiving we have a table full of odd ball pairings. No, I am not referring to your 4 foot tall uncle Leo and his 6 foot tall wife, Aunt Helga!
I am referring to the tradition of filling the table with virtually every course all at once! You will have Turkey, maybe Ham, Brussel Sprouts, Cranberries, Breads, Stuffing, Potatoes, pasta (if your Italian), and various other veggies. Let’s not forget Aunt Edna’s Jello mold with cat food suspended in it (crunch)!
What other wine, besides Zinfandel could stand up to that amalgam of flavors vying for attention in your mouth like puppies fighting over their mother’s nipples?
For a few minutes I thought it could be Petite Sirah as well. However, Petite can often be elegant with a bouquet of violets, tastes of berries and tar, and well structured tannins (if aged).
Zinfandel on the other hand is BOLD, brambly, wild in your mouth, and high in octane (alcohol). It cuts through all those foods like Grandma Nancy cuts the bathroom line after eating one too many bran muffins with a prune juice chaser.
In all seriousness, if you go with just one varietal on Thanksgiving, let it be Zinfandel. It will even pair well with many, but not all desserts. We can talk dessert pairings for Thanksgiving in the next post.
There are many, many Zins to choose from at various price points. When you think terroir for Zin, think about hot, sunny climates with low rainfall. Some of the best come from Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma. However, you can get some great Central Coast values from Amador, Lodi, etc. Here are some labels I like at 3 different price points:
Under $10 – Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel
Under $25 – Quivira Dry Creek Valley “Wild Boar”
$25 and up – look for wines from Helen Turley. She does amazing things with this grape.