Dreaded Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Article (The Secret To Decent Holiday Wine and Food Matches)

Vinted on November 22, 2010 binned in commentary, holidays

I love Autumn (Fall colors & Football!), but I hate at least three things whose approaches are heralded by the falling leaves:

  1. Raking those falling leaves
  2. Thanksgiving / Holiday food & wine pairings
  3. The Dallas Cowboys

Since I find numbers one and three above so unpalatable, let’s talk about number two.

Holiday wine pairings are one of those things that prove immensely divisive among wine geeks. On the one hand, when you enjoy a subject passionately you want to help people when they ask you about it. On the other hand, the topic is not only a culinary landmine (see “bottom lines” below), but it’s treatment is boringly repetitive year-after-year (though some year-on-year takes are done well); the attempts to make it interesting can backfire so badly that the authors attempts at making the subject creative end up looking more like obligatory acts of desperation.

The bottom lines with holiday wine pairings are a) your preference trumps any recommendations and so-called rules, and b) no one wine, variety, or style will match up perfectly with all of the tasty but crazy epicurean sh*t that will appear on your tables during the holiday season, because there’s simple too much variety.

Still, many folks just want picks to minimize their food-pairing risk during these adventures culinary months, an approach which I can respect. So I’m gonna let you all in on a little secret for maximizing your chances of holiday wine-and-food pairing success…

One word: Acid.

Yes, that’s it.

Yes, it’s that simple.

Acid is your friend.  Not just a friend – it’s a great friend.  It’s the kind of friend that will bail you out of jail. The kind that totally understands that thing your sister does to bug you and why it grates on your nerves so much.  Acid will discretely point out when your fly is open, returns your lawnmower on the day it said it would, and will talk to you for hours on the phone on rainy days.

Acid is the kind of friend that buys two rounds.  It’s that great of a friend.

Hold me, Acid… I’m lonely…

Anyway, if you want wine that has a fighting chance against your aunt’s sweet-potato casserole? You need balanced acidity.

A wine with balanced acidity (meaning it’s not coming out in gobs and isn’t being buried under a mound of high alcohol) can handle (within reason!) sweet, fat, acidic, salty, starchy… you get the idea.

Rieslings, Beaujolais, many sparkling wines, and probably 90% of the better wines sold from Italy – these are Acid’s posse. Get to know them, and they will make your holiday food-matching life a hell of a lot easier.

Looking for specific bottles? Sorry, Jack – trust your own palate, and stop being afraid to experiment; the fact that it’s holiday season isn’t an excuse to be a culinary weenie!


(image: freakytrigger.co.uk)





  • Wayne Young

    "…probably 90% of the better wines sold from Italy – these are Acid’s posse."
    Hallelujah! Someone who gets it!
    I've been going on about the importance of Italy's acidity for years! Acid is the part of wine that gives it life, zest, flavor and length, and Italy is where it's at. Complimenti for coming out on the side of balanced acidity when so many consumers FREAK at the mention of "acid"…
    Fat, flabby wines have a hard time playing nice with food. Acid cleans the palate, lifts food flavors and preps your tastebuds for the next bite.
    Thanks for a great post. Viva l'acidità!!

  • Courtney

    Dallas cowboys? Ouch.

    • 1WineDude

      Yes. I hate the Cowboys with the burning intensity of 1,000 pulsating quasars.

  • Jenny

    There should be an acid rating on the bottles.

    • 1WineDude

      Ah, Jenny, but then what would wine critics do all day? :)

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks, Wayne – sorry of this comment is a repost but my original didn't seem to "take" – bravo to you guys for making such kick-ass N. Italian wines!

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks for the link, Steve – great insights and as you can probably guess I'm in agreement with those! People stress over enough sh*z during the holidays, wine should be a *release* from that, not a source of it! :)

  • El Jefe

    Dropping acid during the holidays? That just might make them almost bearable. Man.

    • 1WineDude

      Jefe – HA!!!! Dammit, I totally should have used that angle for this article…!

  • Hailey Trefethen

    Mom and I were guests of Andrea Robinson last night for her Thanksgiving wine pairing tasting. We were rep-ing Dry Riesling with wonderful acidity for those points exactly. Go online and vote! http://www.andreawine.com

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Hailey – hope the event went well!

  • Sam

    This post reminds me of THE GRADUATE…I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening…

    • 1WineDude

      Sam – HA!!!

  • 1WineDude

    Richard – LOVE the Prosecco call… and if it doesn't go with the entire meal, it should surely enhance the pre-meal celebrations!

  • Andy

    Hmmm…not sure I agree. First, on principle, Thanksgiving is an Amercian holiday so I say celebrate it with our wines (the more local the better). Second, while I think acid (as in tartaric, not lysenergic) is an important component of food "friendliness" (the old lemonade vs milk argument), with wine there needs to be a balance of fresh fruit (italy…as a whopping generalization is good on the acid but tend to be a bit "earthy" on the palate). For us west coasters.. Think claret style Zins, grenache, light to medium body pinots, tank aged chards, rhone whites, reisling (esp so…Eroica always has a place on my table), Pinot Gris, dry Rose. If I lived on the east coast, I'd be all about Finger lakes whites and Virgina Bordeaux. But, no matter what, keep it low to medium price, open a lot of different bottles , eat organic and sustainable and enjoy this most wonderful of holidays!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Andy – though I'm not sure we're actually disagreeing. I am trying to advocate wines with *balanced* acidity which I think it right along the lines of what you're talking about. I certainly like the option of opening a variety of different bottles! :)

  • Cicca

    Ok I am not a wine person Im in bad need of a little help. I have tried most wines whites reds ect never likes any of them. However I did stumble on some blue berry black beryy and raspberry that at the tasting were rather nice.
    Now the problem is which one rapsberry or blackberry do I server at the family table?
    blueberry is being saved for something else all together….
    I leave for home ( 12 hrs from here ) not long from now so anyone able to recomend one and email me Will become my hero of the day!
    [email protected]
    PLease sory and thanks.

    • 1WineDude

      Cicca – I'd say bring both! :)

  • Cicca

    and as u can see i;m in such a tizzy i can't spell :( sorry…

  • Jacy

    Hmmn. So you probably pick a wine to serve then plan a meal or plan a meal first then look for the best wine to pair with the foods. Either way, drinking wine and eating good foods would always be a heaven to enjoy.

    • 1WineDude

      Jacy – normally, it's the other way around for me, but sometimes when the wine is especially special we plan the meal around it. Either way, as you say, it can be a joy!

  • Trackbacks

  • Trackback from The Best Fine Wines » Dreaded Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Article (The Secret To Decent …
    Monday, 22 November, 2010

    […] reading here: Dreaded Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Article (The Secret To Decent … Related Posts:The Secret To Thanksgiving Wines Revealed | Drink: A beer, wine and… The Secret […]

  • Trackback from A Thanksgiving that sparkled! « ENOFYLZ
    Monday, 29 November, 2010

    […] Thanksgiving wine, I came across a couple blogs I found informative and interesting. The first was 1Wine Dude’s take on the subject, which said in a word, it’s all about acidity, and a Snooth post that […]

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