(This post is a slightly revised version of something I posted two years ago. My sentiment has not changed one iota since the original post and I thought they were important enough to repeat.)
Cast your memory back to Thanksgiving of 2008. Can you remember which specific wines you had with dinner?
I am sure that most people won't be able to remember, except maybe that they had a Pinot Noir or a Riesling. They are unlikely to recall the specific producer or much else about the wine. What they are more likely to remember is the good (at least hopefully it was good) time you had, the family and friends that shared your table. You might remember whether the food and wine was good or bad. But the specifics may be foggy.
Every year at this time, you will see plenty of magazine, newspaper and online articles that provide specific wine recommendations for Thanksgiving. If you read several of them, you may realize that they present quite a diverse choice of recommendations. There are few types of wine that someone does not recommend. I could do the same here, provide more such recommendations. But do you really need that?
I don't think so.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that all you need for Thanksgiving are some good wines, the varietals and/or blends being much less important. As long as they do not blatantly clash with the meal, then they should work. And few wines are going to so blatantly clash.
A Thanksgiving meal is diverse, with many different flavors, from savory to sweet, and many different textures. No single wine is a perfect pairing with all these different dishes. So you need wines that people will enjoy in of their own right. I don't think too many hosts are seeking the "perfect" wine pairing. They simply want something that people will enjoy and which won't greatly detract from the food.
Plus, who will remember the wines next year?
We must also remember that any wine shared with good friends and family is likely to taste better, or at least seem that way, than one drank alone. The circumstances of the day, the good feelings, the fond memories, the thanks for the past year, will all lead to your wine seeming better. And it is all those urrounding circumstances that people will most remember about Thanksgiving. The wine will always take the back seat.
The wine is simply an extra, not a necessity. It pales in importance to everything else about the holiday. Like the Whos from "The Grinch Who Stole Xmas", there should still be joy even if all of the food and wine have been taken away.
I will probably bring a variety of wines to my Thanksgiving feast, a mix of sparkling wine, white, red and dessert wine. In general, I will pick interesting and delicious wines that I feel people will enjoy. I won't spend much time worrying about pairing them with specific dishes and foods.
I just want wines that will make people smile.