Ah, Thanksgiving. The food holiday. The gathering holiday. Thanksgiving is family and friends getting together and breaking bread with one another. It also means cracking open several bottles of wine to share. And what wines pair well with Thanksgiving? Probably the first thing that comes to mind is Beaujolais Nouveau. Released every year on the third Thursday of November, Beaujolais Nouveau is a French tradition called vin de primeur or "early wine" in which wine from the same harvest year is fermented for only a few short weeks and then bottled and put out into the world, just in time for Thanksgiving, and meant as a celebration to toast the harvest for that year. Beaujolais, Nouveau or otherwise, is almost always Gamay (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as also permitted in the region). Gamay is Pinot Noir's little brother, if you will; light, floral and delicate and plays well with turkey.
Le Beaujolais Est Arrivé!
While Beaujolais Nouveau may have put the region of Beaujolais on the world wine-drinking map, Cru Beaujolais, the highest classification of Beaujolais, is really where it's at and, while still fun and playful, these are more serious wines. More structured and put together, some even age-worthy, Cru Beaujolais, or even Gamay of any kind, is a great wine for Thanksgiving.
But what else? As Beaujolais is a sub-region of Burgundy to its north, the three Burgundian varietals also pair well the flavors of Thanksgiving; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Aligoté. Think Pinot Noir and duck, Pinot Noir and turkey. Either White Burgundy with turkey, especially the richer style ones in the Côte de Beaune.
And speaking of Chardonnay, here across the pond, our California and Oregon Chards, whether oaky and buttery or not, match well with Thanksgiving cuisine as well. Sticking in our own country, Willamette Valley or even California Pinot Noir are great options as well. Do you see a pattern emerging here? Lighter bodied Reds and richer Whites are the direction you really want to go with here.
That being said, never forget the most important thing about food and wine pairings: Your favorite wine with your favorite food is always the BEST pairing! Your enjoyment of what you're eating and drinking is paramount. Nothing that anyone can suggest or tell you is "good" or "works" together should trump your favorite things. So if lighter style Reds aren't your thing and your go-to is a big and rich, bold and smooth Cabernet, we say enjoy it! And if you want to go in that direction with a Red, but branch out while still staying in your comfort zone, or want to stay away from Chardonnay, try a Cabernet Franc or a Chenin Blanc respectively.
Regardless of what you eat or drink, what your traditions are or how you celebrate, we wish you a very merry, a very happy, a very great Thanksgiving. We're going to skip the Tasting this week, but feel free to come in and hang out or stock up. We'll be open regular hours all week, with the exception of thanksgiving Day proper when we'll be closed. Eat til your heart's content. Enjoy!
The Wine Shop Team
You're still here? Would you like to come down a rabbit hole with us in this Post Script?
What wines did the pilgrims drink during that three-day fest that was the First Thanksgiving? Probably none. While wine was prevalent back in Europe, the folks here in the Colonies didn't really have any. And when they tried to ship some, literally (whether on the Mayflower or any other cargo ship), from Europe to the New World, the wines weren't making the voyage. The tumultuous sea would give the wines bottle shock and ruin them.
Even if you fast forward to our forefathers, Thomas Jefferson in particular, when he tried to send his wines back from France to Virginia, his cases wear being ruined by the waves as well. However, they soon discovered that the fortified wines from the Portuguese island of Madeira were not only surviving the voyage across the rolling sea but were drinking even better because of it! Madeira, in all of its various styles from dry to syrupy sweet, soon became the wine of the new America. And if you were to stroll down Church Street right here in Charleston, you'll come across a house that was rented by George Washington that he and several other of our forefathers stayed in when they came here to celebrate right after signing the Declaration of Independence. And if you read the plaque there at the house, you'll learn that the beverage they all imbibed for their (many) celebratory toasts was Madeira. As a port town, significant amounts of Madeira has come through Charleston's sea gate. So much so, that as a Thank You to the city, The Rare Wine Company has created a special bottling of Sercial, the driest style of Madeira, in homage to the city called: The Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Madeira Charleston Sercial Special Reserve and has a depiction of our Customs House circa-1885 as the label art.
And yes, we have some available. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!