What Wine To Serve With The Bird?

Lynne Kiesling

Still wondering what to drink with your turkey on Thursday? Josh at The Food Section has a wineblog roundup of wine recommendations for Thanksgiving. Alder Yarrow at Vinography makes a recommendation near and dear to my heart: Domaine Les Pallieres Gigondas, imported into the US by Kermit Lynch:

Domaine Les Pallieres lies in the Gigondas appellation of the southern Rhone Valley, just out of the shadow of the Dentelles du Montmirail, a spiky necklace of limestone cliffs that separates the Rhone Valley from Mount Ventoux. While this limestone juts up most visibly here for hikers and climbers to admire and assault, it is also a key ingredient for the vineyards of the southern Rhone: good draining, chalky, calciferous soil that gives way to hard pack red clay — both of which red grapevines love to sink their roots into.

The Gigondas region maintains the traditional grape blends of the Rhone, but unlike in the north where Syrah is the dominant grape and makes up usually at least 70% of the final wine, the south lets the Syrah take a back seat to Grenache. This Gigondas is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, and 5% Mourvedre and Syrah. It was aged 8 months in tank followed by 12 months in old oak casks.

Tasting Notes:
This wine’s hue was a light garnet, tinged slightly pink at the rim. Out of the glass came aromas of earth, smoke, cherries and leather. On the palate it was bright with acidity (thanks to the Cinsault most likely), with an elegant, balanced mix of soft cherry and redcurrant flavors combined with dusty tea and dried herbs that lingered in the long finish. This wine has been blended extraordinarily well, and has a harmony to it that is delectable.

Yum! OK, Dad, if you’re reading: this is what we should drink! I love Gigondas, and the Dentelles de Montmirail are beautiful.

I tend to default to Zinfandel, as Stephen Bainbridge recommends (Ridge Pagani Ranch, yum!). Zin is a good match with turkey because it has enough of both fruit and acidity to go with the range of flavors in a typical Thanksgiving meal. It’s also a uniquely American wine (although the grape itself is clearly related to other old world grapes), and is thus a good thematic match for the holiday.

Other recommendations include Shiraz, Champagne, Riesling, Vigonier, and Pinot Noir. Being a red wine fan I tend to choose either a Zin or a New World Pinot Noir. That said, though, both a good dry German Riesling and a Vigonier would be very interesting with dinner depending on the nature of the stuffing and the sides accompanying the bird. A final, interesting recommendation for Tempranillo comes from one of my favorite wine blogs, Turn the Screw:

For the more traditional style dinner, I am recommending Spain, particularly the 2002 Telmo Rodriguez ‘Dehesa Gago’ Toro. Spain is producing some spectacular wines at incredible values, many of them from the less ‘popular’ regions. Many of these have garnered high ratings from the press but most of them will fall victim to infanticide if consumed now. This Dehesa Gago is 100% Tempranillo from an ‘off year’ (according to the press) but as such it doesn’t require as much time in bottle. The tannins are present but not overbearing. The aromatics show all the usual Spanish traits (leather, earth, dried beef) that would go perfectly with the ‘turkey and stuffing’ styled meal. Another upshot is the price. I find people are entertaining larger numbers nowadays and this is an ideal wine for such cases without having to take a second mortgage.


4 thoughts on “What Wine To Serve With The Bird?

  1. We’ve done the Beaujolais Nouveau thing for the past few years, but Zin sounds like a good idea. May pack too much zip for some that will be around the table on Thursday, but they can drink Merlot.

    That said, I usually tend to Pinot Noir (anything that also says Carneros on the label) and my wife usually tends to Zinfandel. Spanish wine for Thanksgiving? Mon dieux!

    But its the holiday season, so whatever you’re pouring, I’ll be happy to try.

  2. We’ve done the Beaujolais Nouveau thing for the past few years, but Zin sounds like a good idea. May pack too much zip for some that will be around the table on Thursday, but they can drink Merlot.

    That said, I usually tend to Pinot Noir (anything that also says Carneros on the label) and my wife usually tends to Zinfandel. Spanish wine for Thanksgiving? Mon dieux!

    But its the holiday season, so whatever you’re pouring, I’ll be happy to try.

  3. I would add Pol Roger to start – it’s all those tiny bubbles – you don’t need to try the Cuvee Winston Churchill, unless someone else is paying. For “afters” you will have your own favourite Malt, but this is Highland Park time of the year.

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