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Autumn & Thanksgiving

By Julia Jenkins, 22nd November 2019

Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness, autumn with it’s shorter days and glorious leaf colours is here and with it we turn to more robust flavoured food which in turn demand more robust wines. Casseroles, winter roast vegetables, notably root vegetables and mashed potatoes with comfort puddings such as crumbles and fruit pies to finish……. menus including these dishes are often found in Thanksgiving menus.

Thanksgiving Day is this Thursday 28th November; it is held on the 4th Thursday in November and is a tradition in the United States since 1863 when during the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated.

The classic menu for Thanksgiving in current times includes starters such as butternut squash soup or salad, to starter with followed by a turkey with a full flavoured stuffing and gravy with side dishes including green bean casserole, spicy sprouts, sweet potato bake and macaroni cheese.  The favourite desserts are pecan pie and pumpkin bread pudding.

Initially, trying to find wines to complement the mélange of flavours in these dishes can seem to be quite a challenge but the key to finding a good food and wine match is identifying the key ingredient and how it’s cooked.

To accompany butternut squash soup or other root vegetables such as parsnips, carrots etc a rounded textured white wine such as an oaky Chardonnay which has a lovely mouthfilling soft texture with tropical fruit and vanilla flavours including a South African example form Rustenberg. Alternatively the Painted Wolf Penny Viognier from South Africa is a glorious mouthfilling peachy wine that would be great with this soup.

The main course is full of different flavours and though turkey is the main element the strongest flavours will come from the herbs and spices used to flavour the side dishes and the sauces. Often the best solution in such a situation is to start with your favourite style of red or white wine and consider if that will complement the flavours. If you like Cabernet Sauvignon chose one with soft ripe tannins such as those from California from Hahn Estates or the lovely Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir with ripe soft slightly sweet mushroom and pepper notes is a great match. A California Zinfandel with briary damson notes such as that from Scotto are also worth trying. White wines need to be big wines to match all the main course flavours so try a Californian Chardonnay such as that Hahn Estates in Monterey or a fabulous mouthfilling Limoux Chardonnay with soft rich ripe fruits.

For dessert the luscious richness of pecan pie or pumpkin pie can overwhelm an light dessert wine so go for something enough complexity and richness to match it. This can be found in a botrytis Semillon such as the Deen de Bortoli Vat 5 or its big brother Noble One from Australia, Madeira especially a Malmsey would be worth trying too.

Using the above as a style guide try your own combinations of food and wine for Thanksgiving – it’s fun to find a delicious food and wine pairing.

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