POPSUGAR Celebrity

10 Exceptional Thanksgiving Food and Wine Pairings

Nov 23 2015 - 11:10am

This year, don't spend countless hours deliberating over what should go into your Thanksgiving food spread [1] only to overlook what you'll be drinking; after all, the wines served can make or break your turkey day feast [2].

For the ultimate holiday food and wine pairing guide, we consulted wine expert Eugenio Jardim, who offered his favorite accompaniments for every classic dish, from mashed potatoes and gravy to pumpkin pie. The Brazilian-born wine consultant, who's got plenty of chops (including being named Sunset magazine's sommelier of the year), has a knack for eclectic wine pairings and a passion for grapes that's truly infectious. Want to be sure this year's your best Thanksgiving ever [3]? Then keep reading for some of Eugenio's suggestions.

Butternut Squash Soup and Sparkling Rosé

Eugenio is an advocate of pink bubbly with butternut squash soup [4]. "Like in a perfect marriage, they bring the best out of each other," he says. "The sour rose petals and raspberry notes in the wine brighten the dense quality of the soup, while the soft texture of the soup enhances the fruitiness and elegance of the wine."

Eugenio's picks:

Herb-Roasted Turkey and Cru Beaujolais

Unsure of whether to pair your big bird with red or white? Eugenio recommends red — specifically Cru Beaujolais. "Very few dishes in the world 'cry out for Beaujolais' like the classic Thanksgiving turkey [6]," Eugenio says; he recommends those imported by Kermit Lynch [7]. But if you can't find it, look for a lighter-bodied Pinot Noir from California.

Eugenio's picks:

Mashed Potatoes With Gravy and Riesling

"Mashed potatoes [10] are creamy and buttery, and gravy [11] is fatty and salty, so take both of these characteristics into consideration. Your wine needs to have enough acidity to cut through the butter, but it also needs to have a bit of sweetness to bring down the salt component," Eugenio explains. "Even if you're resistant to trying wines with a bit of residual sugar, you will be pleasantly surprised by these pairings."

Eugenio's pick:

Brussels Sprouts With Bacon and Pinot Gris

"Pairing wine with brussels sprouts [13] is not an easy task, and you really have to think outside the box," Eugenio admits. "The bitter and salty components of this dish have to be slightly matched while being contrasted. Try it with a Pinot Gris, which is an Alsatian grape with an almond-like bitterness laced with white flowers and peaches."

Eugenio's pick:

Green Bean Casserole and Sauvignon Blanc

For green bean casserole [15] — "a classic Americana dish that's as much palate pleasing as it is belly-filling" — choose a contrasting wine. "Otherwise, you will not be able to have more than just a few bites," Eugenio warns. His suggestion? A bright, herbaceous, and high-acidity wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc from New Zealand or South Africa.

Eugenio's picks:

Cornbread Dressing and Chardonnay

"One of my favorite wine pairings for anything with corn in it [18] is Chardonnay. A few days ago I enjoyed the fantastic Catena Zapata wines from Argentina, and I still remember how well the flavors of their luscious Chardonnays matched the sweet creaminess of corn," Eugenio recalled.

Eugenio's pick:

Sausage-and-Sourdough Stuffing (or Cranberry Sauce) and Zinfandel

"This is a perfect example of when the condiments dictate the wine pairing," Eugenio explained. "The richer and heavier the stuffing [20], the bigger and bolder the wine needs to be."

Eugenio's pick:

Pumpkin Pie and Moscatel

"Like with the butternut squash soup, texture is the important element with this dessert [22]," Eugenio explains. "This has a sweet, creamy, and fruity quality to it, which is better paired with like-flavored wines."

Eugenio's pick:

Pecan Pie and Vin Santo

"Nothing speaks of Thanksgiving dinner to me, besides turkey, as pecan pie [24]!" Explained Eugenio: "I love everything about it: the sweet filling, the toasty crust, and the caramelized nuts, and no other dessert wine speaks of the holidays to me as Vin Santo does. This delicious little wonder from Tuscany has all the elements to pair amazingly well with pie. Just remember: the wine must always be slightly sweeter than the dessert. You will find many producers of Vin Santo at varied prices, some really high, but here are some reasonably priced favorites."

Eugenio's picks:

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