The problem with those incessant Thanksgiving food and wine pairing write-ups in every food publication this time of year? They all presume the food on your table will most certainly be Saveur magazine-worthy. Been there, drank that.
We wondered, what wine would we bring if a friend announced they are serving Tofurky (Surprise! Unless you happen to be a vegetarian, then congrats!) to go alongside their aunt's canned -- definitely not fresh -- green bean casserole? And yes, of course there will be boxed gravy on the side.
We asked several top winemakers to give us their pairing suggestions for that very meal, and they offered up a great list of bargains (and a few go-all-out Tofurky or regular turkey splurges, too). One caveat: They could not choose their own wines.
Bruce Regalia, Clif Family Winery: "A Y Rousseau 2010 Old Vines Colombard Russian River Valley (about $18)... this Colombard is a great wine to pair with lots of different cuisine. It has a phenomenal minerality and crisp acidity that make it work with many different foods as well as by itself. And I've never eaten a Tofurky, but I hear the wild ones are the best."
Natalie West, Foppiano Vineyards (Russian River Valley, Sonoma County): "Since I have never had the pleasure of experiencing Tofu-rky (or a canned green bean casserole for that matter), I would bring something versatile... and a wine that I would want to drink A LOT of! What comes to mind is J Vineyards & Winery Brut Rose NV (about $22). It is festive, light, and delicious. It goes with anything Thanksgiving, turkey or Tofu-rky, or can be consumed all by itself."
Sam Kaplan, Arkenstone Vineyards (Howell Mountain, Napa Valley):"I think you would have to go to the other side of the spectrum--go with a Gevrey, just so you can say you had it with Tofurkey. The reason being that really good wines should be able to go with anything-- and the story would be more fun talking about drinking an amazing wine with such a nasty meal. They should not call it Thanksgiving."
Kale Anderson, Cliff Lede Vineyards (Stags Leap District, Napa Valley): "J Schram would go well to wash away the taste, but a bottle of '47 Cheval Blanc would be fantastic. Why pair such an amazing wine with a dinner like that? Well, you would PRETEND to eat of course, and focus on one of the most amazing wines you will ever taste. At least there would be something amazing on the table."
Alison Crowe, Garnet Vineyards (Sonoma): "My go-to wine for Thanksgiving, even for a dinner which bodes to be less-than-fabulous, is always a high-quality California brut sparkling wine. The main reasons are simple: It's festive and it goes with just about anything from apps to pumpkin pie. And it will put a smile on everyone's face and allow them to at least have an enjoyable beverage experience even if the food is not promising.
My favorite bubblies right now include the NV Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine (Anderson Valley, about $20), NV Brut Scharffenberg Sparkling Wine (Mendocino, about $21) or for a little domestic splurge, the 2008 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs (North Coast, about $36). Any of these wines have just enough sugar in the dosage to stand up to a little sweetness in a dish but have enough acid to cut through the condensed cream of mushroom soup that inevitably will form the base of the offending green bean casserole.
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And, needless to say, bubbles are a great way to cleanse the palate -- even if it's Tofurkey and canned green beans. The feast of 2011 will go down as the year that you single-handedly saved Thanksgiving."
[More from Jenn Garbee @eathistory + eathistory.com