October is a glorious month of crisp, sunny days and chilly clear nights hastening the magnificent change in the colours we see throughout nature, particularly in our spectacular Edmonton river valley.
It's also the month of Thanksgiving, an homage to the harvest, a time to give thanks for our abundance of locally grown fruits and vegetables we are so fortunate to grow here.
A Thanksgiving dinner feast is planned by most Canadian families, large or small, blood related or a gathering of friends. It’s a time to celebrate everything we are grateful for.
If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving feast, or been invited to one, it’s also a marvellous time to try different wines! The right blend of flavour notes, tannins, and acids can bring out the subtlest nuances in your food, taking a meal from excellent to extraordinary.
Here’s some ways to ensure your gathering is a success.
Start with some bubbles. Nothing says celebrating like a pretty glass filled with something bubbly! From inexpensive Lambrusco, Prosecco or Cava, to French Champagne, buy something your budget allows and greet your friends and family with toast when they arrive for dinner. Bubbles go well with any kind of appetizer, too.
Forget the turkey. OK, what I mean is, yes, cook a turkey if that’s your main protein. But forget the turkey when it comes to pairing it with wine. You very well have toiled over the bird, but its mild flavors will be overshadowed by the stuffing, roasted vegetables, cranberry sauce, Great Aunt Mabel’s sweet potato casserole and other spice-forward sides on your Thanksgiving menu. When looking for the ideal Thanksgiving wine, choose something with enough fruit and acidity to complement a range of foods and flavours. The ideal wine will also have enough sparkle and freshness to clear your palate between bites (and helpings).
Leave the Chardonnays and Cabernets in the cellar – until Christmas. Select white wines like Viognier, Riesling, Gewürztraminer or Pinot Gris as these wines will go well with the variety of foods on your plate, without overpowering anything. Your goal is to complement, not compete. For reds, I suggest light to medium bodied wines, such as a juicy Beaujolais from Gamay grapes, or a fruity Pinot Noir, Syrah or even Zinfandel. If you have enough wine glasses, you can have fun tasting small amounts of white and red wines side by side with the meal. This will engage in a lively discussion about which one tastes the best. Afterall, nothing beats a robust discussion around the Thanksgiving table that doesn’t involve politics, sex or religion!
Dessert wines should not be overlooked at your feast. Traditional pumpkin pie, a favourite of many, is absolutely divine when paired with a small glass of liqueur like Sortilege, a Maple syrup-based drink, or a Tawny Port. Ice wines are also popular, but remember, the dessert must be as sweet as the ice wine so you don’t over or underwhelm either one. If you’re serving apple pie, a sweet sparkling Moscato is a lovely pairing, as is a late harvest “Sauterne” style of wine.
How ever you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, remember the most important ingredients are love and gratitude. Share your abundance with others and feel the joy it will bring!
Alison Phillips is co owner of Aligra Wine & Spirits at West Edmonton Mall, located at Entrance 58 Lower level below Simons and Scotiabank Theatre. Mention you read this article and receive 10% off your purchase