Wine Wednesday: Thanksgiving wine and beer for your holiday table

While I know that beer may not be a Thanksgiving staple at your house, there are some great pumpkin brews that I’ve seen in my local supermarket as of late.  So I decided to see what they were all about.

It seems George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson are all DIY brewers. They used barley and other ingredients used to make liquor including parsnips, molasses, squash, corn, and apples.

Brewers hand-cut and roast pumpkins and leave them in the mash (a mixture of milled grain and hot water) as it ferments; use pumpkin purée, or even artificial pumpkin flavorings and add spices, such as nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice, and cinnamon. The result is ale that tastes like pumpkin pie.

So if you’re want to drink your pie, try Lakefront Pumpkin Lager, Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter, Brooklyn Brewery’s Post Road, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s Punkin Ale, Carolina Beer Company’s Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale, Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Ale and Pugsley’s Signature Series Smashed Pumpkin.

Ok so you’re saying “Lisa I’m not bringing a six-pack to our holiday table”, that’s fine.  How do you pick a wine that will compliment your table?

This is actually kind of tough simply because of so many things going on, on the table: veggies, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cornbread, salad and oh yea…the turkey.  Actually, it’s all about the stuffing and if you’re Regis Philbin, he adds raisins to it so that adds a different dynamic altogether. So here are a few suggestions that may make your search a bit easier.

If you are having traditional stuffing, you know white bread, celery, sage, sausage and onion, then you should have a wine that compliments the veggies which are the strongest food notes (bet you thought sausage right). A full-flavored Sauvignon Blanc like Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc 2007 would be the ticket.

If you have a richer stuffing like one that is oyster base (of like my friend Kellie who is from Louisiana who loves Oyster Dressing), then you have a stuffing that deserves a warm and friendly Chardonnay like Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Vineyard.

There is nothing like a good cornbread and andoullie stuffing which is a staple in most southern homes, this happens to be rich with so many spices, sausages and meats that you feel like you’re eating a meal with your turkey.  This is both a rich and sweet stuffing.  With that in mind, you need a wine that has just a touch of sweetness, while not being overpowering.  An off-dry Chenin Blanc like Domaine des Baumard Coteaux du Layon Carte d’Or 2007 is a great match. Or try a Pinot Gris like Kenwood Vineyards Pinot Gris 2008 which often have just a hint of sweetness to them.

If Regis is coming to your house, because you have a fruit-based stuffing, then simply go for an off-dry Riesling.  What is a fruit based stuffing?  One filled with all fall fruits like cherries, apples, pears and of course raisins and craisins. Château Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling 2006 has some citrus and pear flavors so it will play off this type of stuffing well.

A more traditional sausage-and-herb stuffing is best paired with a white wine, but why not pick a light-bodies Zinfandel?  It will add just the right about of sweetness without hiding the beauty of herbs. Have you heard of Valley of Moon Zinfadel 2005? If not, then you should absolutely try this very affordable wine.

So I hope this gives you some options for your holiday.  Remember it’s not about what you bring to the table other than your company.  So if you’re lucky to be able to spend it with your family have fun, watch a bit of football (or go out and play a game) and pass the pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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