The only thing better than a delicious Thanksgiving meal is a delicious Thanksgiving meal with delicious wine. We asked mompreneur-sommelier Julie Lim and David Schlesinger, from the OC Wine Mart and Deli in Aliso Viejo and Yorba Linda, for advice on the best wines for Thanksgiving and how to serve it.
How many bottles
How much wine you need depends on the drinking habits of your guests. But habits, like diets, may be disregarded on an indulgent day like Thanksgiving. It’s better to have too much wine than not enough, and leftovers can come out again in a few weeks during Christmas and New Year’s. In general, Lim suggests buying one bottle of wine per guest, with a backup bottle just in case one of the bottles is unusable. Schlesinger maintains that most bottles are quite usable. He says that crystals on a cork are harmless, and sediment is no problem if it’s left at the bottom of the bottle.
White wine tastes best at 45-48 degrees, which is 10-13 degrees higher than the setting of most refrigerators. So Schlesinger advises hosts to take the bottles out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving. Red wine is served warmer, best at 65 degrees, but no wine should reach temperatures over 75 degrees. Therefore, Schlesinger warns against storing wine near an oven or in a high cupboard.
A bubbly greeting
Schlesinger suggests offering sparkling wine to arriving guests. The bubbles help cleanse the palate while putting everyone in a celebratory mood.
- La Marca Prosecco ($15). Lim suggests this affordable option. The bubbles are mellow and the wine adapts to a wide variety of spices, textures and tastes, from appetizers through dessert.
- Bleasdale Sparkling Shiraz ($20). Another affordable, adaptable wine. The fun thing about this sparkly: It’s red.
- Louis Roederer Brut Premier ($45). Splurge on a rich and delicious “Baby Cristal.”
Dinner is served
Schlesinger warns that heavy wines such as many cabernets may overwhelm the taste of ham or turkey. He suggests serving a lighter red wine like a pinot noir along with a chardonnay, both of which are crowd pleasers.
- Meiomi Pinot Noir ($20) is “full-bodied, yet easy to drink, and great for all the trimmings,” according to Lim.
- Cherry Pie Pinot Noir ($50) is a rich wine, which will complement the turkey and hold up to the side dishes and herbed stuffing. The wine’s name is perfect for Thanksgiving, as is its cranberry aroma. Lim says the wine tastes best if it’s decanted for at least one hour before dinner.
- Cairdean Chardonnay is currently on sale for an amount the Wine Mart isn’t supposed to publicize. Lim calls this wine “well-balanced.” She says, “It has enough body to get it heard through the cacophony of flavors, but won’t weigh you down.”
- Cakebread Chardonnay ($40) is ideal with turkey, according to Lim.
Wines and pie
Most pinot noirs go great with dessert. So take the dinner wine over to the dessert table. But if you want something special, try these suggestions:
- Frost Bitten Ice Riesling ($15). This wine from Washington’s Yakima Valley has all the qualities of traditional ice wine at an affordable price.
- Taylor Fladgate Tawny Port ($30) goes great with pumpkin pie. Lim calls it “a match made in Thanksgiving heaven.”
Taste for yourself
You can also try wine before you purchase it. OC Wine Mart and Deli sells two-ounce tastings of 40 different wines in Aliso Viejo and 33 in Yorba Linda. Or learn about and taste six different wines at a wine appreciation class, offered on Thursdays in Yorba Linda and on Saturdays in Aliso Viejo.
A toast to a wonderful Thanksgiving with great wining and dining and no whining or pining!