It seems there are as many theories about what wines pair best with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner as there are recipes for cranberry sauce. OK, maybe not that many - but a lot in any case. You needn’t fear that we’re going to subject you to a lengthy enumeration of said theories; on the contrary, we’re going to shortcut the whole contentious business by providing you with a single infallible guideline that anyone can commit to memory in two seconds: Drink what you like.
We arrive at this conclusion on the basis of years of empirical research carried on over many a gravy-stained tablecloth. On various fourth Thursdays in November we’ve sipped reds from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Beaujolais, as well as Chianti, Chinon, Rioja, Bandol, Oregon pinot noir, and Southeastern
Massachusetts cabernet franc; every one spot on, none a demonstrably better match than another.
We’ve also served a variety of whites with success, among them Alsatian riesling, pinot gris, and pinot blanc; German riesling; gruner veltliner from Austria; Vouvray; even a busty Champagne. We’ve poured expensive things and the kind of little wines we call plonk - and never really been disappointed. Most years both reds and whites are on the table.
This may lead you to believe that we’re taking an anything-goes position. Not quite. Some wines - Muscadet is an example - are likely to be overwhelmed when faced with a big roasted bird. At the other end of the scale, no gobbler we’ve ever encountered could hold its own pitted against one of those monstrously alcoholic Zinfandels. But between these extremes, there isn’t much in the way of well-made, nicely balanced wine that won’t carry the day. Admitting a small expansion of our apothegm would give you this: Drink what you like while maintaining a sense of scale.
If even this seems like too much to remember, you might consider taking out a little insurance by not forgetting the aforementioned cranberry side dish. Having it on the table virtually guarantees that whatever wine you serve will be sipped with relish.
Man Vintners Coastal South Africa Chenin Blanc 2009 Aromatics a bit muted here, but an abundance of bright juicy pear fruit and some rollicking acidity make it up; nicely lingering finish. Around $11. At Colonial Spirits, Acton, 978-263-7775; Curtis Liquors, South Weymouth, 781-331-2345; Bauer Wine and Spirits, Back Bay, 617-262-0363.
S.A. Prüm “Essence’’ Mosel QbA 2008 Lovely, perfumed lemon-flower and spice aromas; sweetly appealing riesling fruit, fine balance, and good zip. A lot for the money. Around $12. At Beacon Hill Wine & Spirits, Boston, 617-742-8571; Downtown Wine & Spirits, Somerville, 617-625-7777; Bauer Wine and Spirits.
Prima Perla Prosecco No matter the occasion, a sparkling wine is the starter de rigueur at our house. This perky little number delivers the freshness, the fizz, and the fun in the nicest possible way. Around $11. At Upper Falls Liquors, Newton, 617-969-9200; Martignetti Liquors, Brighton, 617-782-3700; Federal Wine & Spirits, Boston, 617-367-8605.
Domaine de Fontsainte Corbières 2006 Smells attractively of tobacco, loamy earth, and cocoa; nicely concentrated fruit is crisp and very dry, showing earthy elements and some fine chewy tannins. Solid package. Around $12. At Vintages, Belmont, 617-484-4560; Brix, South End, 617-542-2749; Gordon’s Fine Wine, Waltham, 781-893-1900.
Firestone Vineyard California Cabernet 2007 Attractive, forward aromas of red currants and fresh sage; mouth leanish and herb-tinged; some texture; barrel-aged but no oak apparent. Around $10. At Wine Connextion, North Andover, 978-965-8000; Golden Goose Market, North End, 617-367-3198; West Concord Liquors, Concord, 978-369-3872.
Stephen Meuse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.