Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and if you’re not joining us here in New York City for our annual holiday meal at Charlie Palmer at The Knick, chances are you’re beginning to think about the menu you’ll be serving. What stuffing will you go with this year? Who will bring the pies? Will a 20-pound turkey fit in the oven? On top of those questions, one that often gets left unanswered until the last minute is, which wines should you serve?
We spoke with Steven Rhea, The Knick’s Assistant Food & Beverage Director, for his guide to Thanksgiving wine pairings. “You have two factors to consider here,” says Rhea. “What food you’re serving, and who your guests are. I might even go as far to say that the crowd is more important than the food. Not everyone is crazy about that lost Slovenian varietal that’s now being grown in Vermont and really tastes like that tar pit you grew up near as a child. Instead, opt for simple pairings that are tried and true.” One final pointer? Thanksgiving isn’t the best time to splurge on an extravagant bottle. “Your guests probably won’t be as excited about it as you are, and you’ll just end up resenting them for being cretins.”
Here, he gives his picks for the best Thanksgiving wine to serve this year.
Thanksgiving Wine 101
The White: Riesling
Riesling all the time. A Kabinett to start the night is a great choice. High acid, high sugar, low alcohol. Stein from the Mösel is putting out some great values from honest winemaking. Thanksgiving dinner is often more sweet than savory—sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn—so a Riesling will be much more forgiving than a Sauvignon Blanc.
The Red: Amarone
I always enjoy Amarone with the dinner. It has the perfect flavor profile to match the sweet and savory demands, but the wine itself takes about the same time to prepare as the dinner: open it in the morning, or even the day before, to let it breathe. Amarone can be expensive, but you don’t have to ball out to get a good one. Producers you can depend on: Le Salette, Montecariano, and Zenato, which is a real steal.
The Crowd-Pleaser: Bubbles
Bubbles tend to pair with everything, and would be a light reprieve for the palate with the heavy dishes. Here you could go a little off the beaten path and surprise guests with a high quality Franciacorta or Cava for your Thanksgiving wine. For Franciacorta it doesn’t get much better than Arcari e Danesi Dosaggio Zero. Bright acidity and absolutely no dosage, with beautiful bubbles. Cava-wise, Mata I Coloma Brut Nature Gran Reserva Familia is slammin’. It’s aged on the lees for five and a half years, and then topped with a little solera wine. It’s also an incredible value.