Chances are you’ll have a group at your Thanksgiving table whose tastes and wine savvy span a wide range. But choosing wine for such a diverse gathering needn’t be a brain-twister.
There’s an affordable, easy-drinking wine that can handle everything from salty appetizers to sweet potatoes to a mapley glaze on the turkey. That wine is Riesling, a dazzlingly food-friendly drink that appeals to a big variety of tastes (and that wine lovers take very seriously).
Rieslings that run from bone dry to sweet come from Germany, France, and many parts of the United States, to name a few places. To me, Thanksgiving seems prime time for this fabulous wine, but every holiday is prime time for Riesling. It’s fruity, flavorful, not too alcoholic; it makes the food taste better and refreshes your mouth for the next gobble of turkey.
With Riesling, there’s a wider range of style than in any other grape. Thanksgiving dinner can be so heavy — you need something moderate to light in alcohol, with high acidity to balance all that richness, plus a touch of sweetness to go with the sweet potatoes and cranberry relish.Riesling is frequently bright with acidity and, depending on where it’s grown, on the low-alcohol side, with flavors of apple and citrus. Its crisp, palate-refreshing acidity helps explain Riesling’s well-earned reputation as one of the world’s great food wines.
But despite being so unrelentingly food-friendly, Riesling is mostly overlooked when we’re deciding on a dinner wine. Why all this neglect? Some of it could be attributed to the baffling wine labels on German Rieslings: So many long German words, so little sense to make of them. Or it could be that sometimes Rieslings are somewhat sweet, though they can also be quite dry (“dry” simply means “not sweet”)–Rieslings really run the full gamut. But don’t be turned off by a little sweetness. It’s a trademark of Riesling that even the sweet versions will offer enough palate-refreshing acidity to keep things balanced, so they’re still crisp rather than cloying. If you’re not sure if it’s dry or sweet, just ask the wine merchant.
Styles of Riesling:
Germany: German Rieslings run the full range from dry to super sweet dessert wines. They have very good acidity and are low in alcohol, making them the perfect pairing with spicy foods.
Alsace, France: Alsatian Rieslings tend toward the dry (meaning “not sweet”) and full-bodied, usually with more alcohol than German styles.
Australia: Aussie Rieslings combine bracing acidity with citrus (often lime) flavors and more alcohol than German styles. They can be dry and steely.
Washington state: Washington Rieslings are known for having a toe in both worlds, bringing together the best of Australian and German styles; they offer a touch of sweetness balanced with refreshing acidity and a measure of alcohol typically greater than German styles.
Riesling is known for aromas of green apple, lime, peach, grapefruit, honeysuckle, mineral, slate, floral, petrol, and toast. Now that you know some of the best wine pairings for Thanksgiving dinner you can order a wine gift for loved ones this holiday!