This Is the One Perfect Wine for Thanksgiving Dinner

Making its grand entrance the week before Thanksgiving, Beaujolais nouveau is here and ready for a place on your table
Greg Nesbit

Greg Nesbit

 

The Best Wine for Thanksgiving

When I host a dinner party and my guests wish to contribute wine, I politely but pointedly ask them to bring a specific wine.

This is not a way to passive-aggressively suggest that they should spend more money than they would otherwise or force them to embark on an epic journey to find the right bottle, but instead, it ensures the wine will work with, if not enhance, the food.  Wouldn’t it just be wrong if I were to prepare a spicy curry dish and you brought over a young, grassy sauvignon blanc from New Zealand? Similarly, a light Italian pinot grigio would be lost up against a meaty roast.

Thanksgiving, however, is thankfully a safer meal with respect to uncurated wine contributions and crazy wine pairings. The classic flavors of the feast are mild but incorporate layers of tart, sweet, and savory that play off of a variety of wine sypes.

Nevertheless, there is one wine in particular that was simply made for Thanksgiving. Well, perhaps not specifically made for the American holiday, but France's Beaujolais nouveau — the first wine of the harvest season — is released to the public exactly one week in advance of American Thanksgiving. Inevitably, the two are joyously linked.  

Beaujolais nouveau is made from the gamay grape in a region just south of Burgundy (Beaujolais from the region's ten grand cru villages — though not Beaujolais nouveau — can actually be labeled as Burgundy). It is made by the process of carbonic maceration (in which the grapes are in effect crushed by their own weight in a sealed container that fills with carbon dioxide), and bottled just weeks after harvest to be sold a few weeks later. The resulting wine is bright and intensely fruity, characterized by juicy, dark fruit flavors with virtually no tannin.

The man largely responsible for the international popularity of Beaujolais nouveau and one of the largest négociants in the world is renowned Georges Duboeuf. Duboeuf's 2016 vintage, in particular, is quite delightful and drinks above its $13 price point. Lots of dark fruit, a little spice, and underlying herbaceousness allows this wine to pair marvelously with Thanksgiving turkey and all its accompaniments.

So tell all your guests: This year, bring a bottle (or two!) of Beaujolais nouveau.

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