Fine Wine Writing by Jonathon Alsop

HOME | Archive | Editors & Publishers | Contact | About the Author | Boston Wine School | Boston Wine Writers
Hide the wine, here comes Thanksgiving!
by Jonathon Alsop
November 1999

Every year, we knock ourselves out trying to come up with the perfect wine match for that traditional roast turkey. Only trouble is, there is no match! What goes great with the pudgy flesh of turkey? Something simultaneously dry and over cooked yet flabby and slightly saline? If you ladle on the cranberries, it's like poisoning the wine well. Welcome to America's most wine un-friendly holiday.

This reminds me of the emails I get every year: someone's having a big traditional St. Patrick's Day dinner, and you're supposed to bring the wine. Which wine with corned beef and cabbage? This is the sign of a wine lover who's in too deep. "No wine" is the correct answer! Learn how to make a black and tan.

Thanksgiving falls into this category, primarily because it is America's national meal, and it replays a rugged American past without niceties, without calico, and certainly without wine. We've all heard the stories about how the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock because their beer ran out, but no one really believes it. And the site of anyone sipping a ruby-colored liquid and saying, "Fruity... juicy... spicy!" would surely have spelled witch in big letters.

But this is practically the 21st century, we've been through almost 400 Thanksgivings, and on one's going to take "no wine" for an answer. So here are some strategies, at least.

The Nouveau route
Yes, this is a beautiful approach in so many ways. It has a concept behind it, and it's cheap. Every year, the French release Beaujolais Nouveau from that year's vintage, so it's invariably fresh and fruity and way under $10 a bottle. If you can pick up a couple of bottles from different producers -- duBoeuf is the biggest and most famous, but my favorite is Alain Junguenet, but that's on the back of the bottle, sadly -- you can arrange a presentation. Not as good as spontaneous stigmata, but at least an instant concept. And people think it's traditional.

Eat and drink separately
Set up all the wine in one of the kids' rooms, the office or the guest room, anywhere that's far away from the turkey, and especially far away from the cranberries. Inside the wine room, drink wine. Outside, drink mulled cider.

Big guns
That's right, forget all this matching up that was never meant to be. Get a couple of big monster wines and blow the turkey inside out. Spend $30 on some humongous Ridge zinfandel and stand back.

© 1988-2022 by Jonathon Alsop
336 Washington St. Brookline MA 02445-6850 617-784-7150
Guarantee of Privacy   Copyright Reminder