I haven't written about it much lately, but I'm still the wine pairing guru over at the Culinary Media Network (formerly Gilded Fork). Jen and Mark are terrific and supremely passionate about what they are doing. Between the website and the podcasts, there is plenty of food and drink information coming out of the network.
Why do I bring this up as part of my LENNDEVOURS Thanksgiving wine column?
Well, when Chef Mark sent me his Thanksgiving menu so that I could start working on the pairings, it really hit me: Why do we worry so much about Thanksgiving wine pairings?
Just like most Thanksgiving Day menus, Chef Mark's is diverse with a bounty of flavors and textures: You've got the richness of the Lemon-Herb Mayo and the Pumpkin Bisque, as well as the tenderness of the turkey, the spicy-sweetness of the carrots and the sweet-tart flavors of the cornbread.
Every year, you'll see (without fail) hundreds of articles lauding this wine or that as the "perfect" or "ideal" match for Thanksgiving dinner; but if you read enough of those stories, you'll see just about every variety/blend from just about every wine region in the world mentioned.
What does that mean? It means that you shouldn't buy into it. And you certainly shouldn't stress out about it.
As I was pondering this menu, I could easily have offered individual wines that I think would pair nicely with each item; but will each dish be served alone, without any of the others? The soup might. As might the dessert. But you'll probably be eating the rest of the stuff at once -- on one plate, at one time. I don't know many people who have Thanksgiving dinner as a coursed meal. I know that in my family, it's a family style free-for-all.
That all said, versatility is important here. Pinot noir might work, as might good, dry riesling. A dry rosé might even work well. And of course a well-balanced chardonnay is classic with poultry.
But you know what? Don't listen to me. Listen to yourself.
What do you like? What wines are you enjoying right now? Maybe even as you read this blog post?
So rather than offer specific wines, here's a different way to think about your Thanksgiving wine this year. It's something I'll be doing:
DRINK LOCAL. Thanksgiving is a holiday that gives us the opportunity to think about all the things we are grateful for in our lives; it's a celebration of our local bounty, and too often people forget that there is wine being made in every state. So drink local, American-made wines on this most American of holidays.
Drinking local is just as important as eating local: By supporting your local wineries, you're preserving agricultural land that could easily be converted into condos or commercial real estate. You're supporting the hard-working vineyard laborers, the winemakers and everyone else involved in the crafting of wine.
I'm thankful to have Long Island wine country in my back yard, so I'll honor and thank them this Thanksgiving by drinking their wines with my locally raised, free-range Bourbon Red turkey. And you know what? I'm not sure what I'll be drinking yet. I'll figure it out. But I can guarantee you that it'll be local -- and it will be delicious.