When it comes to Thanksgiving, I get very nostalgic about food. Nothing I serve comes from trendy food magazines or celebrity chef shows. I don’t like star anise in my cranberries or tarragon on my carrots. I don’t like garlic in my mashed potatoes, and my stuffing is good old-fashioned southern cornbread just like my grandmother used to make. Her stuffing, a particular love of mine, is filled with diced onion, celery, pecans, apple, toasted bread crumbs, poultry seasoning, a lot of turkey stock and drippings and enough butter to be just a bit scary. For me it’s just not Thanksgiving without it. At the end of the savory dishes, deserts are usually plentiful and must involve pumpkins, pecans or pineapple. In other words I celebrate Thanksgiving in the 1950s.
But please don’t get me wrong; each year there is still a lot of variety, and over the years, the quality of many of the ingredients has improved. It’s much easier now to get organic carrots, fresh green beans and yams, not to mention fresh turkeys, but the recipes remain traditional.
Because of this, choosing a wine for Thanksgiving has always been a bit of a problem. Our family celebrations tended to be earlier in the day, after the parades and just a bit before the football, so our meals were usually accompanied by fresh-brewed iced tea.
Over the last 25 years or so I’ve enjoyed hosting many Thanksgiving celebrations in my home for friends that stay in town. Our meals have gotten to be later in the day, and many guests like wine with their Turkey.
Subsequently, I’ve come to enjoy several white wines with Thanksgiving. Seth and his team at Central Market (North) generally recommend white wines like Chardonnay, but particularly wines that have very little oak.
French Burgundies are always good. I have enjoyed Puilly Fuisse and Puligny Montrachet with our Thanksgiving meals, the later always a bit too pricey, but a recent recommendation that I served with a butternut squash soup, was a real standout.
The 2008 Sonoma-Cutrer was soft enough not to overpower delicate flavors, but had body enough to cut through the creaminess of the soup. I’ve actually had this wine many times before and have always been pleased at how well it goes with poultry.
The wine is a light golden color with lemon and green apple notes, and as it opens up, red apple notes appear with a touch of residual sweetness as do floral scents reminiscent of honeysuckle. The medium acids and medium finish work as well with turkey as they would with roast chicken.
So, even if you are like me and usually didn’t have wine with your Thanksgiving meal, consider bringing a new tradition to the table with the addition of a good white wine.
By Richard Arebalo
Austin Times Staff