GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- Bill Summerville, Managing Director/Co-owner of La Belle Vie shared his suggestions for Thanksgiving wine pairing.
• Wine pairing is a big focus at La Belle Vie. We love taking our guests on a path of discovery. We love introducing them to new or little known wines and unexpected pairings, and we encourage you to do the same at your own gatherings.
• #1 Rule of Wine Pairing: Find a wine that doesn't clash with the food.
• #2 Rule: Don't pair a wine to the turkey! For the holidays the big misconception is that you should pair your wine to the turkey. You shouldn't. Turkey has no flavor. It is a blank canvas.
• #3 Rule: Focus on stronger/strongest flavors in meal. In this case, all the rich side dishes. The side dishes have the flavor, and those flavors are typically rich and sometimes sweet. When pairing to rich and sweet flavors the wines need to be richer and sweeter than the food otherwise they will seem lean, tart, bitter and nasty.
• #4 Rule: Experiment and Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: Holiday feasts and family gatherings are a great opportunity to do a lot of pairings, and wine exploration. You can try a number of different wines, and a wide variety of diverse dishes - from stuffing to cranberry sauce. Be a little adventurous. See how they interact! Also consider wines a bit more expensive or even less expensive than your usual price range. You'll inevitably discover new wineries and labels you haven't seen before.
o Specific wines/dishes
Classic Thanksgiving Fare:
o Mashed Potatoes
o Cranberry Sauce
- The first three dishes are rich or have a perceived sweetness from the fat in them; butter, cream, milk, turkey in the gravy.
- The second three are truly sweet due to actual sugar in the food stuff or added to the dish.
-The cranberry is a lost cause for pairing as it is too sweet-tart and has too much acid. Cranberries destroy wine generally speaking.
• Consider medium bodied, fruit-forward wines. Good Thanksgiving go-to wines are Beaujolais and Riesling. Also consider Barbera, Dolcetto, Cotes du Rhone, and Chardonnays with less oak. These wines have a diverse range of quality and style.
o There are four types of beaujolais and they can be light and banal to somewhat big and muscular.
o Riesling can be bone dry to sticky sweet.
o The reds should be medium bodied with a good amount of ripe fruit, higher in acid and low in tannin.
o The whites should be rich, off-dry or on the slightly sweet side.
o Both should be generally lower in alcohol.
• Before dinner, consider going with bubbles.
• To sum up:
o Bubbles before dinner,
o Fruit forward, supple white or red wines for the meal.
o Moscato for dessert.
o And, when in doubt go with bigger, bolder wines.
Other Words of Wisdom Regarding Wine Pairings:
• There are few great pairings, few more really bad pairings and a WHOLE LOT of pairings where nothing happens. (You sometimes need to experience a really bad pairing to appreciate how a good pairing will transform the dining experience.)
• Pay attention to what happens as you taste the different wines with different dishes during dinner: some will clash some will meld.
• If you're giving wine as a gift over the holidays, try seeking out a new or unique wine that person hasn't had before. Whether you're a wine geek or a novice there's a sense of satisfaction and a bit of joy in discovering a lovely new wine. That's what we strive to do for our guests at La Belle Vie. And, bubbles are almost always a safe choice.
• Get to know and trust a couple of wine sales people the way you trust a movie critic. Spend some time talking with these people and let them know what you do and don't know about wine. Be honest.
• Don't over think it. In the end it will be the friends, family and companionship that you'll remember!
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