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Easy Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

11/03/2014 02:39AM ● Published by Family Features

Gathering friends and family over a delicious meal is often a highlight of the holiday season. As you start to plan your menu for the big day, remember to consider which wines you'll offer as perfect pairings for your favorite dishes.

Whether you're preparing a traditional feast or planning to fill the table with new harvest-inspired recipes, food writers and wine connoisseurs agree - chardonnay and pinot noir are the ultimate Thanksgiving wines.

Versatile chardonnay
One of the primary reasons chardonnay is at the top of a Thanksgiving wine list is the flexibility inherent in America's most popular white wine grape. Chardonnay flavor profiles can range from fruit-forward with bright acidity to big, rich and opulent. In either case, it's the right white for the job.

If you prefer white meat and lighter fare, choose a lively chardonnay with notes of citrus, like the La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. With aromas of lemon drop, yellow apple and subtle toasted oak, this wine pairs beautifully with breast meat and balances dishes like creamy potatoes or roasted carrots.

lf darker meat is your preference, consider a richer style with a lush texture and spicy notes  that can hold up to the more intense flavors of the wing and leg meat.

Pleasing pinot
Pinot noir is the perfect addition to any party because it pleases a lot of palates and doesn't overwhelm classic Thanksgiving food. Pinot's inherent earthiness and notes of plums, cherries and spice notes like vanilla and nutmeg are a natural pairing with cranberries, dark meat turkey, stuffing and root vegetables.

Like chardonnay, there's a pinot noir that complements almost any menu. A darker, concentrated pinot noir will hold up to deeper flavors, while a more vibrant, juicy wine such as the La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is a great option for pairing with the variety of flavors of delicious side dishes that a Thanksgiving feast delivers.

Not only will it pair well with both dark and light meat, but its sweet spice and classic earthy notes resonate well with the savory herbs often seen in holiday dishes.

Serving wines
To best showcase the wines you select, it's important to serve them at the right temperature. With just a few adjustments, you can bring out the best in your favorite wine's unique flavor profile, character and bouquet.

White wine is best when served between 45 and 50°F. Served too cold, the flavors and aromas will be masked, and served too warm they become flat.

Conversely, in general, red wines should be served a bit warmer, between 55 and 65°F. A colder serving temperature will make a red wine seem excessively acidic, and warmer will bring out an overly alcoholic flavor. Chill room-temperature pinot noir for 10-15 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.

To explore more wine pairing, serving and storage tips, visit

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (photo of tablescape)

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