As the weather begins to chill in the Northern hemisphere, thoughts turn to the first big holiday of the Fall season, and great meals with friends and family. The traditional Thanksgiving table however, with its often eclectic mix of dishes can sometimes be a puzzle when pairing wines. Fear not, there are lots of options from Italy alone.
Let’s start with some versatile wines that have a “rich” look and feel and are a great fit with many of the traditional rich foods on the Thanksgiving table. Starting off with sparkling wine is never a mistake. For the aperitivo hour(s), you can’t go wrong with the clean, crisp style of Trento DOC. If more fruit is called for, Prosecco Superiore DOCG from Conegliano Valdobbiadene is the perfect foil for fried finger foods and as a bonus you’ll get extreme value and extreme pleasure.
During the meal, Franciacorta DOCG offers many stylistic options in white or rosato. White wine lovers can pick up a white from Friuli. These often fuller bodied styles sit nicely alongside mashed potatoes and rich roasted vegetable dishes. Looking for a lighter, more off the beaten path option, head to Alto Adige (NE Italy) and find a Pinot Bianco. Because it is a chameleon, it will pair with alot of what is probably going to be on the table.
While you’re still shopping the northeastern Italy section look out for a Lagrein. Its unique flavor profile combination of deep red cherry with a hint of orange peel is tailor made for this day. Don’t leave NE Italy yet.
Lagrien’s neighbors, Pinot Nero, Schiava, and Teroldego all make for interesting pairings. Full of acidity and lithe cherry red flavors, the wines are easy to drink and complement savory white meats like turkey & pork.
If you simply can’t give into Fall weather, and you’re still yearning for rosato, you’re in luck, because of their versatility. Bardolino Chiaretto (Corvina and Rondinella), Nebbiolo rosato from from Alto Piemonte, Cirò rosato (Gaglioppo) or Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo (a seriously well-made rosato from Montepulciano d'Abruzzo) are all good bets--listed here in order from lighter to fuller bodied.
If a 100% sparkling holiday is your goal, and you want to add to your Trento DOC and Franciacorta selections, seek out the wines of Alta Langa DOCG. Not produced in huge quantities, these gems are truly stylish wines, ranging from brut nature to extra dry. If the goal is to surprise everyone, mix things up with a sparkling red from one of the three Lambrusco denominations: Sorbara, Salamino or Grasparossa. Lastly, don’t forget about the time honored Asti Spumante or Moscato d’Asti DOCG. While both are sweet sparkling wines, Asti Spumante is slightly drier and now can even be bone dry.⠀
For dessert look for passito style wines. Passito di Pantelleria DOC with its honeyed, caramel and orange peel notes sits well beside desserts like pecan and sweet potato pie. While it could be argued that Vin Santo (also can be honeyed with caramel notes) and Moscato d'Asti (sweet, sparkling and very fruit forward--think fruit salad) are two of Italy's most famous sweet wines, there are over 100 DOPs that make a dessert style wine. If chocolate must make an entrance, generally reds without much bitterness are a better bet than dry, tannic wines. Grab that unfinished bottle of Lambrusco or pop open a Brachetto d’Acqui--your guests are going to be dabbing a little of this one behind their ears, it smells so divine.
Images: Valdo, vinielisabettaabrami.it, dallaterra.com