Answering the Thanksgiving Wine Question


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Maybe you’ve got your Thanksgiving wines picked out. Or maybe you don’t. Doesn’t really matter; this is just the beginning of the holiday party season, bringing plenty more opportunities to make good wine choices. Here’s how to proceed:

Suggestion 1: Don’t sweat it! Sure you want the wines you serve – or bring – to be great. But it’s not a wine tasting – it’s a party. The wines don’t need to be the main attraction, they just need to taste good.

Suggestion 2: Think versatile for the food. Thanksgiving offers a notoriously difficult wine challenge, what with its range of flavors, textures and sweetness levels (just check out that array in the picture!).  But other holiday-season gatherings can be just as vexing, particularly if you’re a guest bringing a wine. Who knows what’s on the menu? So to up the odds of making a seamless food-wine fit, for whites, steer away from heavy oak and toward good acidity and aromatics. For reds, avoid wines with big tannins and look for bright, fruit-forward wines.

Suggestion 3: Think versatile for the people. At holiday gatherings, the more the merrier, right? But even as merry multitudes bring holiday cheer, they also bring a wide diversity of palates. So again, your wine choices will fare better if the wines aren’t too intimidating – pleasing to sophisticated palates (even if in their own mind), yes, but tasty for folks less wine-centric too. This is a theme that the excellent wine writer Ray Isle hit on in a piece for Decanter, in which he wrote, “Thanksgiving wine choices are really more about pairing wines with people.”

Suggestion 4: Just go ahead and get the Protea Chenin Blanc and Red Blend!

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OK, that’s an admittedly self-serving suggestion, but these really are the kinds of wines that can be successful for the holidays.

The Chenin offers great balance, good natural acidity and big fruit concentration that features pear, citrus and honeysuckle characters. The Protea Red, as one critic wrote, is “a juicy, husky blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that makes no demands and delivers plenty of flavor.” The tannins are discernible but subtle and ripe. Both wines have only a touch of oak, just enough to enhance their complexity.

The other thing these wines have going for them: Those beautiful bottles. Whether on your own table or at a party you’re attending, or on a banquet with various wine selections, these are bottles folks will reach for. And pour. And enjoy. And isn’t that the point?

Looking for more holiday inspiration? Check out the links below:

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