Grape Sense: Thanksgiving wines 

click to enlarge Delicious Voignier grapes
  • Delicious Voignier grapes

The Golden Rule of wine and food pairing is a simple one - if you like it, drink it!

But when the family gathers for the turkey feast next week something more is often expected. How about something different? Or maybe you're the type that would like to serve up something a bit more extravagant!

An occupational hazard for wine writers is the expected column of wine recommendations for the holidays so who am I to disappoint?

But let's not go down the tired trail of Chardonnay and whatever red is in the cabinet. If you want white wine with the turkey, and that's probably the best choice, look for a good dry Riesling. No matter the region it comes from Riesling is a very safe pick.

But who wants to play it safe? If you like drier wines but want a big nose of fall in your glass of wine try a Gewurztraminer or Viognier. Gewurzt (easier to say without sounding like you're sneezing) is one of the most aromatic wines in the world. It can be fairly sweet to off-dry. Viognier, my choice of the two, is a drier white wine with hints of apple, pear, and spice on the palate. For an even better pairing go drier with a Pinot Gris or Chenin Blanc.

For the extravagant dinner gathering, splurge for the world's best white wine - Chablis. Better Indy
wine shops will have a few labels to choose from. Chablis is Chardonnay made in a dry, crisp style with tremendous minerality and acidity. You can find great bottles in the $20 price range.

The red of choice has long been Pinot Noir for Thanksgiving. But consider a French Beaujolais - and not that Nouveau stuff. Find a Beaujolais Cru wine from Julienas, Morgon, or Fleurie. The Gamay-based wines are very affordable at $12-$18 and great with food.

If you want to impress pick up any bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir above the $30 price point. It is sure to be a winner.

Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, writes regularly about wine on his blog,


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