With so many flavors jangling together on the Thanksgiving table, choosing a wine to match them all can be a puzzle. While pinot noir is the oft-praised queen of Turkey Day, there isn't much local pinot to choose from. Fortunately, our frigid climate yields some excellent medium- to high-acid wines that play well with food. If, like me, you get a thrill drinking something local on Thanksgiving, choices abound.
First, though, ask yourself some questions. Will the meal be dominated by sweet dishes, or more savory fare? Will the gravy be light or dark? Do your guests typically drink wine at all? The answers can help you whittle down your choices — from an off-dry wine for sweeter fare and wine newbies, for instance, to a hard cider for more adventurous foodies.
Rosé. A people-pleaser, rosé's candy-like color and aroma can comfort elderly aunts who usually only drink white zinfandel. But its fruitiness also appeals to novice wine drinkers, and even the wine-pairing geek can appreciate the tart edge a dry rosé provides against the fattiest meal of the year. Boyden Valley's Rosé la Ju Ju — made from Cayuga and Frontenac grapes — is full-bodied, a tad sweet and plays well with marshmallowed yams.
White. Cold-climate whites can have the bracing acids that make food flavors come alive and refresh the palate. For an off-dry white, try East Shore Vineyard Traminette — the grape itself is descended from seyval blanc and gewürztraminer (though it is grown in upstate New York) and has hints of spice and lively acidity. For a drier white with hints of vanilla, Lincoln Peak Vineyard's Frontenac Gris '10 has ample body for a lighter Thanksgiving meal, but is also quaffable on its own.
Red. Medium ruby and full of black currant and peppery flavors, Marquette counts pinot noir as one of its parents. Logic might dictate that this wine is too heavy for Thanksgiving, but for a heavier meal with lots of cream, cheese, or savory flavors, Marquette would shine. Both the 2010 Marquette from Lincoln Peak and the award-winning 2010 Marquette from Shelburne Vineyard are both elegant expressions of this Northern hybrid.
Hard cider. It might not be the first beverage to spring to mind for Thanksgiving, but zingy, earthy hard ciders are perfect for Thanksgiving, and come with a whiff of history. Farnum Hill Ciders are made from heirloom apples just over the border in New Hampshire, and their sparkling Farnum Hill Extra-Dry is both tart and fruity. For pie, the honey-like Eden Ice Cider Calville Blend, with its hints of caramel and lingering finish, is more than perfect.