As cool nights and golden leaves mark the turn of the seasons and the approach of winter, it is time to decide what wines will best accompany the festivities of the coming months.
Thankfully, the Yakima Valley provides the perfect pairings for Thanksgiving turkey with all the fixings.
With such a huge meal, the options for wine pairings are nearly limitless and can be overwhelming. To help, let’s break the meal down into its more traditional parts:
• Potatoes: Depending on how they are prepared and the varieties used, spuds can be paired with an oaked chardonnay or, if you prefer sweeter potatoes, a roussane blend is fun.
• Green beans are fabulous with sauvignon blanc due to the excellent green, herbaceous notes that are prevalent in the grape varietal.
• Turkey and stuffing are paired with pinot noir or Gewürztraminer. Since the Yakima Valley is not the ideal place to grow pinot noir, grenache makes an equally excellent pairing. The floral nose, lighter body and softer acidity of these wines help balance the lighter meat of the turkey but also provide accompanying flavors to the stuffing.
With so many courses, each with their own unique flavors and textures, it may seem complicated to find the perfect wine to pair with the whole meal. My go-to varietal in these situations tend to be tempranillo, chardonnay and grenache. Tempranillo is a great Spanish varietal that has become more popular in Washington recently. With a moderate body and complexity, softer tannins and a great balance of spice and fruit, tempranillo is perfect for turkey, pasta, stuffing and also cranberries, which bring out the red berry notes in the wine.
Don’t forget about blends and mulled wine, another holiday favorite. Blends can be the perfect solution when trying to decide pairings, because they combine little bits of what everyone likes.
This Thanksgiving, don’t be afraid to try something new. To get you started, here are some recommendations of local wineries to try on your holiday table. And don’t forget, if you have questions, winery staff is always happy to help you come up with a winning combination.
Wines to try
• Airfield Estates, 2010 Lightning, white blend with 43 percent Viognier, 39 percent Roussanne, and 18 percent Marsanne
• Parajas Cellars, Southern Rhone Blend
• Kestrel Vintners, Sauvignon Blanc
• Thurston Wolfe, 2008 Tempranillo
• Naches Heights Vineyard, Tempranillo
• Gooseridge Vineyards, G3 Red Blend
• McReae Cellars, Grenache
• Cara LeDuc is a graduate of the Central Washington University wine program and now serves as an assistant at the CWU Wine, Beverages and Gastronomy Institute.