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What are you drinking with that turkey? Local experts weigh in with their picks

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Thanksgiving is coming up quick, and, if you’re like most Americans, you already know what you’re going to eat. But do you know what you’re going to drink?

The Thanksgiving meal is one well-suited to wine, but which wine to choose can seem like a daunting task.

Caviste

Red, white and rose wines all can pair will with Thanksgiving. At Caviste on Wednesday, Nov. 2 in Winston-Salem

Part of the challenge is that the traditional foods we pile all on one plate run the gamut from salty to meaty to earthy to tangy to sweet. So, the task can be tricky even for people who have a good idea of which wines go with which foods.

There are some general guidelines, though, that can help you decide. And just as there are traditional Thanksgiving foods, there are traditional choices among wine lovers.

There also are some wines to avoid. Full-bodied reds with high alcohol and lots of oak or tannin — think Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon — will overwhelm the food.

Winston-Salem Wine Market

Torii Mor 2020 Pinot Noir (left to right), Marcel Couturier 2019 Pouilly-Loche, Champagne Diebolt-Vallois, Cantina Settecani Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Charles Brotte 2021 Grand Vallon at Winston-Salem Wine Market

In fact, any heavily oaked wines — including many California chardonnays — are going to clash with traditional Thanksgiving foods. Oak brings more tannins to a wine, which is great for a fatty ribeye steak, but not for leaner meats and poultry.

In general, it’s best to look for light to medium reds and medium-bodied whites and rosés. And don’t forget sparkling wine — if you had to choose one wine to get you through the whole holiday, Champagne certainly would be a good choice.

Another rule of thumb is to choose wines with medium to high acidity. Acid in wine can pair well with acidic foods like salad or cranberries. Acids also cut through rich and salty foods.

Caviste

Regis Minet 2021 Vieilles Vignes Pouilly-Fumé (left to right), M. & C. Lapierre 2021 Morgon Beaujolais, Fongoli Biancofongoli 2021 Umbria Trebbiano, Daniel Largeot 2018 Chorey-Les-Beaune Les Beaumonts, Cote de Beaune, Burgundy, Domaine La Berangeraie 2021 Tu Bois Coâ? Malbec Rosé at Caviste in Winston-Salem.

Some examples of high-acid whites are riesling, sauvignon blanc, Champagne, pinot gris and Chablis. High-acid reds include pinot noir (Burgundy), Beaujolais and sangiovese (Chianti).

Many of these are among the recommendations of two local wine-shop owners. We asked Beth Binder of Winston-Salem Wine Market and Russ Anderson of Caviste to recommend a handful of different wines for the holiday meal — and to tell us what they plan to drink themselves.

Winston-Salem Wine Market

Beth Binder, owner of Winston-Salem Wine Market in Winston-Salem, loves bubbles. Champagne is great for cleansing the palete between courses or even bites.

Beth Binder’s PicksMarcel Couturier 2019 Pouilly-Loche, Burgundy, France, $35: This is a chardonnay from southern Burgundy. “This is not as rich as Napa chardonnay. It has more acid,” Binder said. It also has less oak. “It’s good with turkey and stuffing. I really like it with oyster stuffing.”

Cantina Settecani Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Italy, $16: “If you want to start with a sparkling wine and don’t want to splurge for Champagne, this is a good choice — especially if you like a hint of sweetness,” Binder said. And the bright acidity and cherry-cranberry fruit flavors go well with Thanksgiving dishes.

Champagne Diebolt-Vallois, France, $40: “I love bubbles. This is going to pair well with food just like the (Burgundy) chardonnay. But it’s just fun,” Binder said. You might want to pour this as guests are arriving and when you serve any appetizers, but you also can keep pouring it all the way through dinner. It’s also a great palate cleanser, perfect for clearing out the taste of sweet potatoes and marshmallows before you dive into the mashed potatoes and gravy.

Winston-Salem Wine Market

Torii Mor 2020 Pinot Noir (left to right), Marcel Couturier 2019 Pouilly-Loche, Champagne Diebolt-Vallois, Cantina Settecani Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Charles Brotte 2021 Grand Vallon at Winston-Salem Wine Market on Wednesday, Nov. 2 in Winston-Salem.

Torii Mor 2020 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Ore., $27: Oregon pinot tends to be much lighter than its California cousins. “I like pinots from the Willamette Valley. They aren’t overpowering, and they go well with a lot of food. This really tastes the way pinot noir should taste,” Binder said. “This would pair with turkey and mushroom stuffing. This would even pair with a smoked-salmon appetizer.”

Winston-Salem Wine Market

Beth Binder, owner of Winston-Salem Wine Market in Winston-Salem.

Charles Brotte 2021 Grand Vallon, France, $16: For people who prefer a heavier red, Binder recommends this syrah from the Southern Rhone region of France. “It’s fruity, but it’s spicy, with pepper.” Heavier than the Oregon pinot noir, it’s still medium-bodied. “It’s not too overpowering, and it’s got some acidity,” so it wouldn’t clash with traditional fare, Binder said. But, she added, “this is more for people who like to eat rack of lamb or steak.”

Caviste

Russ Anderson, owner of Caviste in Winston-Salem, is a big fan of rose because it is so food-friendly. One if his recommendations for Thanksgiving is a rich malbec rose from France.

Russ Anderson’s PicksRegis Minet 2021 Vieilles Vignes Pouilly-Fumé, France, $28: This sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley is a “great way to start the meal,” Anderson said. It’s “nice and friendly” and “not super-tart” like a New Zealand sauvignon blanc, and a great choice with salads (especially one with goat cheese).

Caviste

Regis Minet 2021 Vieilles Vignes Pouilly-Fumé (left to right), M. & C. Lapierre 2021 Morgon Beaujolais, Fongoli Biancofongoli 2021 Umbria Trebbiano, Daniel Largeot 2018 Chorey-Les-Beaune Les Beaumonts, Cote de Beaune, Burgundy, Domaine La Berangeraie 2021 Tu Bois Coâ? Malbec Rosé at Caviste on Wednesday, Nov. 2 in Winston-Salem.

Domaine La Berangeraie 2021 Tu Bois Coâ? Malbec Rosé, France, $15: Anderson is a big fan of rosé in general because it is so food-friendly and versatile — and that’s just what you need at Thanksgiving when the spread on the table has a wide variety of flavors. Anderson likes this malbec rosé because it’s “rich and dense” compared to your typical light and summery rosé, so it can stand up to turkey, gravy and stuffing.

Fongoli Biancofongoli 2021 Umbria Trebbiano, Italy, $24: Made with organic grapes, this is an orange wine — white-wine grapes fermented with some contact with their skins to give them an orange color. (Rosé, in contrast, involves red-wine grapes with brief skin contact that turns the wine pink.) Orange wines typically have more body and more dried-fruit character compared to fresher-tasting rosés, and Anderson described this one as having quince and apricot flavors. “It tastes like a white wine, but the fruit is dried and it picks up tannins,” he said, calling it an especially good match for turkey.

M. & C. Lapierre 2021 Morgon, Beaujolais, France, $38: Anderson loves Beaujolais because it goes well with a wide variety of foods. “It works with everything from salads to soups to hangar steak,” he said. Beaujolais’ versatility is what makes it one of the top Thanksgiving red picks for wine connoisseurs. Note that a Morgon — a Beaujolais cru, or top-quality Beaujolais — is very different from the light and fruity Beaujolais Nouveau. The Morgon receives more aging and is a drier, richer wine but still bright with good acidity. Anderson called cru Beaujolais “a classic of classics this time of year” with “quality and structure to rival neighbor Burgundy.”

Caviste

Russ Anderson, owner of Caviste, on Wednesday, Nov. 2 in Winston-Salem

Daniel Largeot 2018 Chorey-les-Beaune Les Beaumonts, Cote de Beaune, Burgundy, France, $40: “This is a bit richer,” than his other picks, he said, but it’s a light style of pinot noir (aka red Burgundy) with fresh fruit. The earthiness tends to work well with stuffing and anything with mushrooms. And, he said, “it’s good with turkey, but better with duck.”

Duck, it turns out, is what Anderson will be eating instead of turkey this Thanksgiving. And he will drink Burgundy with it, but perhaps one even richer than the Chorey-les-Beaune, simply because duck is a fatter, richer meat than turkey.

Binder actually plans to go with French merlot, or rather a Right Bank Bordeaux that is primarily merlot but is blended with cabernet franc. Again, this style is lighter, with less alcohol and tannin than Californian and other New World examples, making it more food-friendly.

“I don’t always go with traditional choices,” Binder said. “But I think (French) merlot is a great food wine, and it gets a bad rap.”

Caviste

Regis Minet 2021 Vieilles Vignes Pouilly-Fumé (left to right), M. & C. Lapierre 2021 Morgon Beaujolais, Fongoli Biancofongoli 2021 Umbria Trebbiano, Daniel Largeot 2018 Chorey-Les-Beaune Les Beaumonts, Cote de Beaune, Burgundy, Domaine La Berangeraie 2021 Tu Bois Coâ? Malbec Rosé at Caviste on Wednesday, Nov. 2 in Winston-Salem.

But Binder and Anderson agree you should choose a wine that you really like — and, ultimately, that takes priority.

“If you like a big wine, drink a big wine,” Anderson said. “Thanksgiving is more about appreciating family and friends.”

Caviste

White, rose and red wines all can pair will with Thanksgiving. Pairing wine with food at Thanksgiving can be tricky, given the variety of food being served - salty, earthy and sweet.

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@mhastingswsj

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