Buzzwine The Outsider's Guide to Thanksgiving

The Outsider's Guide to Thanksgiving

A glass of Turkey with your turkey?
© Total Wine | A glass of Turkey with your turkey?
Desperate not to churn out the usual Thanksgiving wines story, Claire Adamson looks to left field for inspiration.
Posted Thursday, 26-Nov-2015

It's Thanksgiving, and I'm hoping by now you've sorted the menu, set the table and defrosted the turkey. Maybe you've got an idea of what you want to drink as well.

If you are looking to us for wine pairing advice, my big tip is this – pair the turkey (and whatever else is on the table) with whatever wine has really been peeling your banana lately, or that sufficiently dusty bottle that's been waiting patiently in the cellar.

Related stories:
9 Wines for a Thoughtful Thanksgiving
Florence Dubourdieu's Signature Dish
Aline Baly's Holiday Turkey

Or you could go down the novelty route with one of these knee-slappers:

Möhr-Niggli Pilgrim Pinot Noir

The classic wine to pair with turkey is Pinot Noir, and the classic people who celebrated the first turkey day were pilgrims, making this the absolute ultimate wine to crack open at the Thanksgiving table. The only thing letting it down (if we're going to be niggli about it) is its decidedly un-American origin – this wine is made in Switzerland. At least it's not made in North Korea I guess?

The Pilgrim Pinot Noir comes from vineyards in the Swiss Alps, Pinot being one of Switzerland's key red varieties. These Pinots are are probably a bit more ethereal than the Oregon fruit bombs you're used to, but hey, I don't know your life. Maybe a Swiss Pinot Noir is a bit everyday for your tastes, and you want something really nuts. In which case…

Kavaklidere Yakut, Ankara

This wine is from Turkey! Geddit? In all seriousness, this wine – made from the completely unpronounceable Öküzgözü grape variety (as well as the similarly difficult Boğazkere variety), could work quite well with the Thanksgiving turkey. Öküzgözü makes a bright, fresh wine with cherry notes and high acidity, and reflects its terroir quite well. Sound familiar?

The variety (I'm not bloody typing it again) is often compared to Pinot Noir, and therefore is as deserving of a spot on the table as the ever-present bottle of Burgundy. Also, if you don't give your elderly, racist great-aunt something to complain about on Thanksgiving, then what kind of host are you, anyway?

Turkey Flat Vineyards Butchers Block Red, Barossa

Let's be real for a moment: our modern consumer society has turned us into a bunch of sissies. For example, I am happy to eat turkey but I'd rather not be reminded that it was once alive, and loved and dreamed and grieved once.

Which makes the Turkey Flat Butchers Block quite a confronting wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner (and not just because of its hefty 14.5 percent alcohol). This Aussie Shiraz blend is best suited to Thanksgiving occasions that involve log cabins, rifles, more flannel and beards than you'd find in all of Brooklyn, and a bird that has not long stopped gobbling before you start, umm, gobbling.

Magnum Carlos Lucas Flor de Maio Mayflower Branco

Not everyone wants to drink red wine on Thanksgiving, and that's cool. They’re just trying to live their best life. But they must still be punished for their insolence so, instead of buying them a nice Vouvray or white Burgundy like any normal person, you should get them this $3 bottle of Portuguese white wine.

This wine is made from some classic Portuguese grape varieties – classic in the sense that you won't have even heard of them, and likely the winemaker isn't even sure what they are. It's called "Mayflower", which in this case refers to an actual flower rather than a ship carrying the Pilgrim Fathers to the New World. So it's kind of a tenuous link to the first Thanksgiving, but you're the one who invited white-wine drinkers to your party so you can just deal with it.

Rest and Be Thankful Whisky Co. Bruichladdich Bourbon Cask 12 Year Old Scotch

The meal is over, the children have been put to good use quietly loading the dishwasher, and the leftovers are carefully packed away for tomorrow's epic sandwich. You made it. Must be time for a wee dram.

This whisky, made by Bruichladdich on my editor's favorite island in the whole world, Islay, is bottled by the aptly named Rest and be Thankful Whisky Co. It is far and away the best thing to finish America's most exhausting holiday with, and will help you think about what it is in your life that you are thankful for. Probably by this stage, you'll just be thankful that Thanksgiving is over for another year. Roll on Christmas …

(Big Giant Disclaimer: the writer is not American and has never once celebrated Thanksgiving in her life. She has, however, eaten turkey before, and has also keenly observed US culture via the prism of Hollywood's cultural imperialism. She has attempted to wrangle these two facts into something that may seem appropriate to the most casual of readers.)

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