Picking wines for Thanksgiving can seem like a nearly impossible task. With such a huge array of flavors and textures served, whatever you open has to cover a lot of bases. Is there a wine that can handle stuffing, cranberry sauce and turkey? What about gravy? Sweet potatoes? In short, you need a wine that goes with everything. Talk about pressure.
This year take a walk on the wild side and go pink. Serve dry rosé with your meal! Made by letting the skins of red grapes “stain” the wine for a short time, this burgeoning style fills the gap between white and red wine. Served chilled, it’s as refreshing as a white wine but with a bit more heft and weight like a red. Rosé’s hybrid personality makes it a great food partner. It’s crisp and clean, with lots of flavor and enough backbone to stand up to everything on your menu. And those are just a few of the reasons a dry rosé has what it takes to be the star of your Thanksgiving celebration.
Rosé is way more than just “summer water”.
In the southern French region of Provence, rosé wine is often called eau d'été, “summer water”. Usually lighter in color and totally gulpable, these wines are perfect for hot summer days spent eating platters of seafood by the beach or grilling up feasts with friends and family.
Rosé is undeniably a glorious summer sipper, but the enjoyment doesn’t have to stop there. Truth be told, pink wine is pretty fantastic year-round. Try it with fondue in the winter and let the wine’s bright acidity and freshness cut through the rich, gooey cheese. In the spring, rosé’s lively fruitiness and minerality perk up with fresh goat cheese. Make a tomato and chèvre tart and let the sun shine in. Don’t sell rosé’s deliciousness short by only drinking it in the summer.
Rosé can be bold and sassy.
It’s taken a while for Americans to come around to seeing rosé wine as anything more than a fruit punch for adults. Sadly, we somewhat did this to ourselves. Back in 1975, Sutter Home Winery was making White Zinfandel (contrary to popular belief, White Zin was originally a dry wine), when a problematic batch was siphoned off and accidentally left aside for a few weeks. The result was a super-sweet wine that appealed to the winemakers. They realized they could sell far more of this sweet wine than the dry White Zinfandel, and the permanent recipe switch was made. Voilà! The scourge began, taking rosé’s reputation down with it. (Well, that sealed rosé’s fate. A sweet, pink Portuguese wine called Mateus did some damage as well.)
Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to actual rosé wines. Since the Phoenicians introduced the concept to the southern French port town of Massalia (now known as Marseille) around eight thousand years ago, Mediterranean cultures have enjoyed the pink stuff - sipping it as an appetizer, enjoying it with all kinds of food, or guzzling it down to cool off in the heat of the day.
Today there are nearly as many different styles of rosé as there are countries making it. Italian rosato can be rosey in color and loaded with notes of watermelon and wild strawberry. French rosés from the Rhône are ruby red and can be quite spicy. American versions can exude bright cherry notes. Whether you prefer your wines to be wispy and delicate or assertive and intense, there is a rosé out there for you. Don’t underestimate the power of pink wine.
Rosé is a crowd pleaser.
Finding a wine with broad appeal can be a bit of a challenge. It needs to be lively and crisp for the white wine crowd, yet full-flavored and structured for red wine lovers. Many rosé wines walk that line quite successfully, and are fantastic wines for people to stick with for the whole day. They are just at home with the shrimp cocktail apps as they are with the roasted turkey and honey-poached cranberry relish. (It’s not too late to make this astounding side dish from Chef Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc restaurant.)
Rosé wine’s tasty character and pairing flexibility makes it a total winner for your Thanksgiving table. The challenge will be getting those who view all rosés as sweet, bland wines better suited for wine novices who aren’t above pouring a tumbler full of the stuff, usually over ice. Once you get past the stigmas and misconceptions of these elegant, engaging wines, you’ll add yet another name to the list of rosé wine fans. Happy Thanksgiving!