Serving Thanksgiving wine: Pitfalls to avoid
So you’ve made it all the way through to Thanksgiving day and now all you have to do is ensure that everybody has a good time. Wine can help, but here are our tips on how to make it work.
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If by some chance you are still looking for wine and are reading this ahead of the big day, then see our recommendations on what styles of Thanksgiving wine to buy.
Otherwise, there’s plenty to consider – and good times to be had – so here are some things for wine lovers to think about to help the day run smoothly.
Your kitchen is going to become a cauldron, so beware the heat. One of the worst things you can do is constantly expose wine to wildly fluctuating climates.
A couple of hours of chilling should do the job for Champagne and sparkling wines, and remember that ‘room temperature’ for fuller bodied reds is only supposed to be around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Celsius) – maximum.
2. Special bottles
On Decanter’s staff, we’ve collectively spent many hours ruminating on the best time to open one of those special bottles sitting in the bottom rung of our cellar racks. It’s easy to leave them for too long.
Thanksgiving is an obvious opportunity, but – a bit selfishly – consider how many glasses you need to fill and whether or not you’ll be silently choking on your yams if any of your family and friends do not express adequate admiration for a wine so lovingly chosen and cared-for.
If you’ve weighed all that up and it still makes sense, then go for broke. It is, after all, great to share fine wines with close family and friends…
3. Food pairing etiquette
As Ray Isle notes in his article on choosing Thanksgiving wine, you’ve got almost no chance of continuously matching wines to the array of foods on the table.
Remember that acidity is always your friend in such situations, and don’t pick anything that’s overly heavy. Oregon Pinot Noir is likely to trump a big, oaky Cab on this occasion.
Then, know your audience. You might love that natural wine produced in Qvevri from Georgia, but realistically your aunt will probably snub the birthplace of wine for something a little more mainstream. Have a decent bottle of Chardonnay on-hand, for example, alongside something more adventurous. Only chill the Chardonnay to between 50 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit if it’s reasonably full bodied.
4. It’s a marathon
Carson Demmond reminded us last year of the importance of treating Thanksgiving as more of a marathon than a sprint. Read her ‘survival guide’ advice from 2016 on low-octane wines that you might want to try.
5. Don’t fall foul of common wine myths
Mainly, pulling the cork and expecting the wine to ‘aerate’ is a bit like asking a person to breathe only through a straw with the diameter of a lapel pin; it’s not going to work very well.
Generally, for a fine red wine, decanting one hour before serving will be adequate, according to Clément Robert MS. Vintage Port should always be decanted to get rid of the sediment.