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Any wine will do

  • There are few, if any, wrong ways to go when pairing reds and whites for the holidays.MUST CREDIT: Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post. Jennifer Chase—For The Washington Post



For the Washington Post
Friday, November 03, 2017

All together, now: deep breaths. Stay calm. Don’t sweat about the wine for Thanksgiving.

Yes, it’s time for my annual reminder that you have much more to worry about than selecting wine for the holiday feast. There’s the menu, the timing, the seating arrangement around your loud relative who won’t stop yammering even as he’s stuffing his face with your food.

To be honest, the great national anxiety over which wine goes with turkey is a hob-gobble-goblin invented by wine writers desperate to stuff an article with seasonal advice. A cottage industry of wine snobbery has developed around the concept that turkey is a wine killer.

Nonsense. The turkey is just a big chicken, as they say. Whatever you drink with chicken will be just fine with the holiday bird.

(I’m not making this up. The very first wine article ever published by Hugh Johnson, the venerable British wine writer, was in the British edition of Vogue magazine in 1960 – and it was about pairing wines with Christmas turkey. The article is included in an anthology, Hugh Johnson on Wine: The Good Bits From 55 Years of Scribbling, to be published in the United States in the spring.)

The wine-food conundrum for Thanksgiving stems from the plethora of dishes, spices and flavors on the table and on our plates all at once, rather than in orderly courses. Too often our wine-food pairings become wine-protein pairings, and we forget the sauces, spices, textures and vegetables that are also part of our dining experience.

My annual advice remains the same: Open one of everything. Or at least a wide assortment of wines that will go well with the variety of dishes on your holiday table. Find wines you like at prices you can afford for the occasion. For example, pinot noir is a classic favorite because of its ability to play nicely with a variety of foods. But you might not want to buy a premier cru Burgundy unless you’re having turkey dinner for two. Offer a nice pinot from Oregon or California.