Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jive Turkeys

Quickly achieving a critical mass that is the wine-media equivalent to sports' discussion of Penn State, every wine publication, e-zine, and blog has recently inundated you, nay, molested you with diatribe about what wines to serve with your Thanksgiving feast.

Hmm... very poor word selection there.  But lately, poor judgement and Penn State are quite the bedfellows.

Dammit.  That's not any better.  Luckily, no one's reading.

As I was suggesting, there is a whole lot of bluster out on the interwebs (and in periodicals) about "wines to pair with your turkey".  Everyone's trying to find the "catch all" that will work marvelously with you Butterball, your Bruce's Yams, and that freaky Jell-O mold your weird, smelly Great Aunt always shows up with.  You know, the one with the Waffle House shoes, wispy bald spot, and matted patches of cat hair upon her equally-matted aqua green sweatshirt featuring a bedazzled pair of kittens.

Don't listen to them.  These folks are jive turkeys.  That is to say, "not to be trusted".  But, if you speak jive, you already knew that.

The problems with finding one perfect wine are many.  First off, let's talk turkey.  There's really not much to it.  Sure, it's encased in crispy, buttery skin.  But that is a product of liberal application of butter and salt.  The breast meat is tender and flavorful, but only if brined and pumped-up with more salt.  The dark meat is greasy.  And, eventually, it all dries out.  Turkey, ultimately, is pretty bland.

Or, as I like to think:  Turkey is like exercise.  It's boring, and it makes you tired.

To this end, finding a wine that complements turkey may not be the way to go.  There are certainly more flavorful sides, sauces, and accompaniments (stuffing, gravy, cranberries, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, etc.) to consider.  But choosing one pairing for each side may not work.  Unless everyone wants to have 6 different glasses in front of him.  And the table's too crowded as it is, what with that giant decorative cornucopia in the way.

When in doubt, lower-alcohol, higher-acidity wines tend to go better with food in general.  Wines from Italy are particularly food-friendly.  On a more generic level, sparkling wines, dry and slightly-sweet Rieslings, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Beaujolais wines can play nicely with lots of relatively bland foods.

Ultimately, if wine and food at the table is said to bring people together (and I know I say it all the time), then you DO need to stock up for Thanksgiving, the cosmic collision of food, drink, and people.  Just don't over-think it.  Buy a bunch of stuff, ask your local booze store for advice, or tread carefully into the fragmented and unreliable blogosphere for pointers.

Still not feeling comfortable about the whole situation?  Beer goes with just about anything.  And that ain't no jive.

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