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Wine Tasting With Thanksgiving Dinner

When you are preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for ten the urge to have a wine tasting experience is irresistible. Certainly, we could not resist, so about a month before the big event we began to plan. We knew that the whole group would drink wine with the dinner, that wine was not some people’s favorite, and that none of us were experts. We planned to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and wanted to have several appropriate wines available.

Our menu provided roast turkey, baked glazed ham, sausage dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green-bean casserole, Jello salad with cranberries, cranberry and orange relish, sauerkraut, rolls and a garden salad, with pumpkin pie and apple crisp (smothered with whipped cream) for dessert. To select our wines we consulted our wine pairing bible What to Drink with What You Eat and picked five recommendations for our menu: dry Gewurztraminer, Cru Beaujolais, un-oaked chardonnay, and Rosé, with Madeira for dessert. With our list made up we visited our favorite wine-store, The Caviste in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and sought the advice of its owner, Russ Anderson, on the specific bottles of each kind of wine. He helped us choose:

Our goal was to find out which wine or wines were especially pleasing to the family. The dinner table was set with four wine glasses at each place setting, each one fitted with a color coded label made of a pipe cleaner and a bead. The corresponding wine bottle was similarly color coded. This was done so the guests could easily ask for refills without remembering any wine names, and that Ray could be sure to pour the right wine into the right glass. To begin the wine tasting experience we described the set up and gave the names of the four wines. In spite of using the colors to identify the wines most people preferred to use some other name. Rose and chardonnay were familiar names and were used by the guests while “the German wine” was used for the Gewurztraminer and “the red one” was used for the Beaujolais. So much for color coding. When the main part of the dinner was finished, the table was cleared of glasses and plates, and dessert was served with a glass of Madeira.

The Gewurztraminer was the most popular of the wines that were drank with the main part of the meal; the rose was the least popular. All but one person drank the Madeira with dessert. We have no way of knowing what foods each guest ate with his/her wine but we do know that few ate ham, sauerkraut, sweet potatoes, or either dish with cranberries. About half the guests had both of the desserts. I ate turkey and all the stuff no one else ate and chose the Gewurztraminer; I had apple crisp with the Madeira. Ray ate the same thing I did except the sauerkraut and preferred the Beaujolais; he had the pumpkin pie with the Madeira.

A fun wine experience and Thanksgiving dinner was had by all. We especially like the popularity of the Gewurztraminer since we had recommended it in our October 19th Wine for Thanksgiving Dinner: Gewurztraminer post. Also having tasted these five wines with the Thanksgiving dinner we both agree they were all perfectly paired with the dinner. However, the Gewurztraminer complemented the dinner better for most of the people, possibly because the Chardonnay, Beaujolais and Rosé tastes were a little more dominant.

Although not part of the dinner, we also served wine and cheese as the guests arrived. The most popular (and the one that received the most complements) was Domaine La Bouysse Blanc Hauterive 2011 which we like very much; Jed Steele’s Shooting Star Aligote 2010; and Joseph Carr Merlot 2010. We had previously tasted all of these wines and recommended them, in fact the Domaine La Bouysse received our Quality Wine at a Bargain Price recommendation.

Note: Click on the wines listed above for our specific tasting comments of each of them.