Thankful for these pairings

Writing about Thanksgiving pairings is something writers tend to either love or loathe. I fall in the former category: I had a ton of fun writing this and this for the Star Tribune in recent years.

Basically, at a table with that wide a range of dishes (in terms of texture, acidity, sweetness/saltiness, etc.), the best idea is to have several beverages on hand.

But the best piece I’ve seen this year on the topic came from my friend Jason Kallsen, whose email newsletter at Twin Cities Wine is an indispensable delight. (Full disclosure: I’m an [all too] infrequent contributor to the site.) Here’s Jason on what is, for many of us, they year’s best holiday:

“I try to dodge the specific suggestions and instead talk in generalities, for I don’t want you to be driving from store to store in a frenzy Wednesday at 9pm. (Note: if you really want to have fun and watch crazy people going berserk, that is the day and time to do it.) Here are my official picks for this Thursday:

#1: English Cider
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttttttttttttttttt???????!!!!!” I can hear it now. Why is the wine guy suggesting cider??? Why not??? I’ve been on a roll lately with all sorts of yummy ciders, especially the gems from England. Apple and Pear Ciders abound, and I thank my buddy Nick at First Grand Avenue Liquors of Saint Paul for opening my eyes. I’ve consumed far more cider than wine in the last seven days, and the acid snap combined with lower alcohol will make for a great Thanksgiving pairing. Trust me … the cider world has exploded lately and ask your good merchant for some suggestions. There is incredible bang for the buck in this category.

#2 California Zinfandel
It’s an American holiday, and Zinfandel is an American grape! What grows together goes together!!! Most great Zinfandels will have a core of black raspberry and black cherry, highlighted by peppery spice. A perfect combo with a turkey coated in cajun spices or just lots of pepper.

#3 Viognier
I feel I’m starting to sound like a broken record when it comes of Viognier (or even worse that I’m getting kickbacks from the International Viognier Society, if there were such a thing), but really how much more perfect could a grape be? Peach and apricot every way you turn, bold in style but minimal in oak. Pure. Kicking. Lovely. And delicious!

#4 German Riesling — the old reliable
There is NOTHING that goes better with Thanksgiving dinner than a Kabinett from the Mosel Valley of Germany. The sweetness balanced by great acidity can’t help but put a hush on the table. It’s a holy moment, and one to savor every bit of.

#5 Domaine Romanee Conti Richebourg
Why not? You only live once. (Note: if you are popping this, no need to invite me. I’ll sniff the air, jump in my car, find you, jump through the window like a ninja, grab the bottle and make a dash for it before you can say ‘Yum.’ The sound of broken glass followed by the blur running though your house will be me.)”

4 Responses

  1. Bill


    I must have missed the wines he recommends. Are we to assume any Kabinett Rieslings are going to work or would it be too much trouble to have Jason recommend some wines and where to but them.

    Bill S.

  2. Hi Bill S. –

    I just awoke from my Turkey induced coma, so sorry about the delay on this (and not like specific suggestions would work very well three days after Thanksgiving!).

    As I said in the text, I like to talk in generalities because a good wine merchant can then point you in the right direction based on his or her selections. A good retailer gets far more access to taste current releases than almost anybody else. Additionally, we are in a neat moment for Kabinett style Rieslings in which there is more nerve, acid, and freshnesss than ever before and better merchants are recognizing this. For personal favorites, the Bernkastel Lay from Loosen, Merkelbach (numerous available – Surdyk’s only), JJ Prum all work extremely well.

    It’s a category worth exploring even beyond the world of Thanksgiving. Riesling is one of the great grapes around, without a doubt.

  3. Bill


    I am always looking for a good wine shop and have poor luck with MGM which is in my neighborhood in Hopkins. Is there a good place in my neighborhood which will offer better service?


    Bill Stephan

  4. Bill Ward

    Yes. Go see Nate Strong at the Strong Liquors store on Cedar Lake in the strip mall just east of Aldi. Or Rodney Brown at the Byerlys in Ridgedale. Or Greg Varner at Excelsior Vintage on Hwy. 7 (easy to miss, so map it). Feel free to tell ’em I sent you.
    I don’t know their names, but the guys at US Liquors in the Lunds strip mall in Hopkins seem to be pretty cool.

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