Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. Although it’s primarily celebrated in the states, we Italians never miss an opportunity to celebrate over good food and good wine! My sister and I spent a number of years living with our family in the U.S. We learned a lot during that time and brought many of our friends’ traditions back to Italy with us…including the Big Thanksgiving Dinner.
Of course, at the Candoni De Zan Thanksgiving table, the wine is almost as important as the food. No matter whether we’re having pasta with roasted vegetables, succulent pheasant, or just a selection of Italian desserts, wine is nearby! From our family to yours this Thanksgiving holiday, here’s everything you need to know about serving wine for the .
A Few Things to Remember
At minimum, you’ll want to choose at least one red and one white wine to go with the meal. Thanksgiving flavors are varied! Your wine choices should be, too. In general, it’s best to budget one …better too much than too little!
Sparkling wine is a great way to make the day feel more festive. We suggest serving it as you and your family are waiting on the meal, then switching to something more tailored for food pairings once you sit at the table. If you do decide to keep the sparkling party going with the meal, just be sure to choose a brut sparkling wine, not something sweet!
Chardonnay: In the U.S., Chardonnay has become the go-to white wine. Although steel-cask varietals may be neutral enough to serve with an array of Thanksgiving foods, oak-aged Chardonnay may be too overpowering for the feast.
Pinot Grigio: A great alternative to Chardonnay is Pinot Grigio. A palate-pleaser if there ever was one, Pinots typically have a medium body and high acidity, making them great to serve with white meat and lighter Thanksgiving fare.
Other excellent white choices include Riesling, best served with dessert, Sauvignon Blanc, a grassy palate-cleanser, and Moscato, a slightly sweet, fizzy wine that’s great for capping off the meal.
Pinot Noir: We love Pinot Noir as “the” red pairing for a varied meal. With plum, raspberry, and spice notes, Pinots are light enough to pair with meat, cheese, and pasta, but substantial enough to stand on their own.
Syrah: Will the meal be heavily-seasoned? If so, you need a bold, spicy wine to stand up to all those peppery, herbed flavors. Syrah fits the bill with its notes of licorice, cherries, and chocolate.
Chianti: If you’re serving less-than-traditional food (like we will be here in Italy!), Chianti is an excellent choice. It’s berry and almond notes compliment rich flavors of pasta and sauces and its earthiness balances out a heavy meal.
Tips for Serving Wine With Thanksgiving
Remember, you may want to chill your wine slightly before serving it – yes, even the reds! Especially with hot, hearty food, the flavors of a lightly-chilled wine will be more open and vibrant. Be sure your serving glasses are very clean, and always keep extra glasses on hand! With a full house, people are bound to set their glass down and forget where they left it.
And if a guest shows up with a bottle or two that doesn’t exactly “fit” your menu? Serve it anyway! The spirit of hospitality in Italy always encourages a festive, welcome atmosphere. When someone brings you a bottle say “grazie!” and be thankful you have such generous friends and family!
We’d love to see photos of your table (and wine!) on the Candoni De Zan Facebook page with the hashtag #CandoniCheers!
Wishing you and yours a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday this year.