Monday, November 7, 2016

Rant: Stressing Over Thanksgiving Wines

Every year countless people stress over which wines to pair with their Thanksgiving dinner. They read all the wine articles, which give recommendations of which wines you should drink, though many of those articles are similar year to year. They speak to the staff at their local wine store, who give them recommendations. These people also worry that their holiday might be a failure unless they have the correct wines. The holidays can be stressful enough without having to worry about the wine, especially when those worries are generally needless.

Cast your memory back to last year's Thanksgiving. Can you remember which specific wines you had with dinner? Can you remember the specific wines you had with Thanksgiving dinner two years ago?

I am sure that most people won't be able to remember except maybe in the most general terms. Maybe they recall having 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 they had, the family and friends that shared their table. They might remember whether the food and wine was good or bad but the specifics may be foggy.

Do you really need specific Thanksgiving wine recommendations? I don't think so. The more I ponder the question, the more I realize 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. Drink wines you will enjoy and don't worry so much about "perfect pairings."

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, that will enhance the spirit of the day.

And if you want some more general advice, check out my prior post: Holiday Wines--Don't Be A Cheapskate. And if you really want some more specific advice, and are willing to be adventurous, then check out Thanksgiving Wines? Consider Sherry Or Sake.

Whatever you do for Thanksgiving, enjoy yourself and appreciate all that you have, rather than worry about what you do not.

(This is a revised version of a post from 2009. My basic sentiment has not changed one iota since that time and I felt it was important enough to raise it again.)

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