In Praise of Pairing: Tips for Filling Your Glass with Good Stuff for Thanksgiving


It’s almost that time of year again, so get your stomach ready for plenty of Turkey Day treats. Ah…but what goes well with all of the sugar, spice and everything (else) nice? We spoke with Melissa Hall, manager and event planner at Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit, for some suggestions on how to make the most of this big deal meal.

Since the dishes of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner can run the gamut from sweet potatoes and stuffing to turkey and pecan pie, if you’re not hosting and are headed to someone’s house it can be difficult to decide what to bring. Bubbly is one suggestion Melissa recommends, whether it be Prosecco, Champagne or even Lambrusco. For a host or hostess, this allows them to fill people’s glasses with something festive, while everyone is gathering and waiting to sit down and dig in. It’s also an exuberant way to express your gratitude. Bubbly makes for an excellent aperitif (pre-meal drink, sort of like an alcoholic appetizer). As for wines, Melissa is seeing more and more of her customers searching for new varietals they have yet to try – and local ones as well.

If you opt for bringing a white, some food-friendly options include wines from Sancerre or Gavi di Gavi or wines made from the Grüner Veltliner or Falanghina grapes. For reds, people often recommend Pinot Noir (a good choice indeed). However, some lesser-known varieties, including Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch, are enticing alternatives too. All of these wines offer varying levels of acidity that enable them to handle a variety of foods. And acidity, along with tannins, is an important characteristic to cover. “In general, wines with higher acidity (and nothing too oaky) will work well with the nuances of the food,” says Melissa. “An elegant style – nothing too young or too tannic – can also help make the most of all the flavors you will be experiencing.”

Since so many people are eating more local foods and ingredients, now is the perfect time to try some new wines from New York. Whether it’s a ravishing red such as a Cabernet Franc from the Finger Lakes or a crisp Chenin Blanc from Long Island, the Empire State has plenty to offer.

What about the folks who don’t drink wine? Melissa says those who crave cocktails can also get their kicks. First and foremost, let’s talk about the power of a punch. No, not Mike Tyson style, or the ones from your high school dance. Punches can be a good friend to the big feast. “There are plenty of great recipes that are less sweet and more balanced. A cranberry or pomegranate punch, for example, would work well with the red fruits already on your table. Just make sure to keep your use of any spirits on the lighter side – you don’t want them to be too aggressive and overpower your palate.” Cocktails as part of your dessert is a divine option too – think about how good an Old Fashioned made with a cinnamon and star anise simple syrup would be with your pumpkin and pecan pies. Last, but certainly not least, consider a digestif (post-meal beverage served to aid in digestion – aka a tantalizing, alcoholic version of Tums; one of our faves is Amaro Nonino). It helps ease your insides from everything you can’t believe you just consumed….

Photo by Stef Schwalb

For more specially selected suggestions, head to Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit ( on Saturday November 10 (from 1-5) for their annual Thanksgiving Tasting where you can sample traditional dishes prepared by Spoon Catering Co. that are paired with 12 wines and spirits. Tickets are just $20, with a $10 discount offered towards wines purchased that day. Net profits benefit City Harvest.

Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit
5 West 19th Street
(212) 929-2323

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