Wines To Reconsider Serving On Thanksgiving

Planning holiday menus can be stressful. Catering to preferences and allergies while preparing dishes in advance can have even the most accomplished chef scrambling before the big day. And while the food itself is of great importance, equally so are the drinks that accompany each served course.

To get clarity on the best wines to pour and when, Tasting Table spoke to the founder of Decoding Wine, Mathew Woodburn-Simmonds, who has made it his personal mission to save us from drinking bad blends. Turns out it is possible to choose wines that are not only enjoyable for mid-meal toasts but are affordable, too. Woodburn-Simmonds suggests spending no more than $30 per bottle, as there are some great labels that won't necessarily break the bank.

While planning your wine list, consider the day like a marathon. If you start pouring rich, heavier wines from the get-go, your guests might tap out early. Instead, pair appetizers with light, crisp alcohol — something sparkling, refreshing, and champagne-style to kick off festivities. Woodburn-Simmonds recommends a chablis or a dry sauvignon blanc for those wanting to drink something without bubbles. You can save richer whites and reds for later in the meal.

A carefully planned wine list

For those feeling lost by the endless choices at the wine shop (you are not alone!), steer clear of varieties that can overtake the meal or are simply just too expensive to pour for many people. Woodburn-Simmonds recommends leaving reds like Californian cabernet and Bordeaux on the shelves and instead reaching for pinot noir varieties.

"Always remember the third bottle of wine is the best one of the night, and you can drop to a slightly cheaper bottle as the day goes on," he advises. So start with the good stuff, and as the evening progresses, you can open less-quality wines after guests have had a few glasses and start loosening up.

When it is time to serve the main course, pinot noirs from warmer climates can complement heavier mains and side dishes without stealing the spotlight. And when it is time for dessert, bring out sweet wines that also have a bit of a bite. A wine too dry will feel like vinegar in your mouth as you try to enjoy pumpkin and pecan pie; look for 5 Puttonyos Tokaji or a Canadian ice wine to bring the evening home.

"Jurançn is a wonderful sweet wine that has the sharpness to still feel fresh," Woodburn-Simmonds suggests. If you have guests asking for more, you know you've planned well.