Thanksgiving is a week away, so it's time for the obligatory column on what wine to serve at the feast.
I haven't indulged this topic for years, mostly because this holiday meal is such a mishmash of flavors and textures it really becomes a wine pairing free-for-all.
This is especially true for vegetarians, who, in lieu of turkey or other centerpiece protein, pile on extra servings of the sweet, savory and creamy side dishes.
Typically, a light and fruity red, like pinot noir or Beaujolais, has enough acidity to cut through all the fat and richness of side dishes while complementing cranberry-topped turkey for those who indulge in the big fowl (including me).
But, many vegetarians build their Thanksgiving meals around Tofurky, that odd, mock bird stuffed with wild rice and whole-wheat breadcrumbs. The "roast" has textured "skin" like turkey and is made primarily from tofu and wheat gluten.
In my experience, it is bland and dry. So, you're really pairing your wine to the baste, which is, in most cases, soy sauce. Earthy cabernet franc from the Loire Valley makes a great match because these wines are usually softer and contain less alcohol than their California counterparts and have great red fruit and vegetal notes that help to enhance the herbiness of the soy sauce baste.
If you want to serve a white wine, go with something off-dry and with bright acidity, like German riesling. The touch of residual sugar and zippy acidity stand up to the salty flavors in the baste as well as the fat in those side dishes.
If you're serving Quorn's Turk'y Roast, a meatless product made primarily of fungi-based mycoprotein, rehydrated egg whites and pea fiber, you should consider syrah or pinot noir. This fibrous, soy-free roast tends to carve more like meat -- think portobello mushrooms -- so its texture can stand up to a smoky syrah from the Rhone Valley in France. If you go with pinot noir, make it something earthy from Oregon or Burgundy.
Even if you're normally a turkey eater, that doesn't necessarily mean you're having it on Thanksgiving. Last week I ran into a friend who was planning to serve crab at an intimate dinner for four. She's going with -- what else? -- California sparkling wine. The bubbly will balance her rich butter sauce and cleanse her guests' garlicky palates.
My in-laws will likely use Thanksgiving to test out their Hanukkah brisket, a recipe that involves soda pop and is so tasty the slow-cooked juices are almost a palate cleanser unto themselves. A rich Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon with chart-topping tannins or even a Lodi zinfandel, which tend to be jammy and chewy on the palate, would make a fine match for the brisket.
Just remember the wine may squash that third helping of candied yams.
Contact Jessica Yadegaran at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at swirlgirl_jy.
Five thanksgiving wines
Turkey: 2010 Potel-Aviron Côte de Brouilly "Vieilles Vignes" Cru Beaujolais ($18). The silky gamay grape show itself in lively red and dark berry flavors that finish fresh and floral bite after stuffing-topped bite.
Tofurky: 2010 Joel Taluau "Expression" St. Nicolas de Bourgueil ($13). This expression of cabernet franc from the Loire Valley is fresh and yummy with violet and white pepper notes to complement the earthiness of Tofurky bastes.
Quorn: 2011 Kalinda "Cuvee Reserve" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($25). Pomegranate and rhubarb aromatics mingle with crushed stone and mushroom flavors that make it a natural pairing for fungi-based vegetarian fare.
Crab: Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut ($19). This estate-grown, multi-vintage blend of chardonnay and pinot noir has fresh apple and pear flavors plus the balance, acidity, and zest to pair beautifully with shellfish.
Brisket: 2009 Avalon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($13). Audacious in its richness and valuable price, this ripe, supple cabernet has the kind of velvety tannins and surprising length. to pair beautifully with slow-cooked meat.