Choosing the right wines for Thanksgiving can prove elusive and difficult, especially due to the broad range of flavors, but as a general rule I try to match cuisine and wine to its region or style. For my Haitian turkey recipe, I look to France for pairing. While Haitian rum is world renowned, there are no good Haitian wines to fit the bill. Over the past few Thanksgivings, I have tried several different types of wines, from American zinfandels to beaujolais. Haitian food can be savory and spicy, but also delicate and nuanced. The trick is to find a light-bodied wine that can stand up to intense flavors yet enhance other subtle ones.
Champagne is a classic starter for my family, not only because of its versatility, but after all, it is a celebration. I tend to enjoy medium-bodied bubbly, but my family prefers light and airy. This time I’ll serve a bottle of Larmandier-Bernier Brut Tradition 1er Cru, a great compromise for any palate. A natural biodynamic sparkler comprised of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, a sure-fire winner from Vertus.
Depending on the appetizers, I would move to Chardonnay, one that is not too oaky or buttery. Any white burgundy will do the trick here. I am giving a Stony Hill 2001 Chardonnay a whirl.
Cru Beaujolais such as a Brouilly from Chateau Thivin or a Morgon from Jean Paul Thevenet have been up to the challenge in the past. But I have recently fallen in love with Eric Texier’s Brezeme 2004 Syrah which for the price ($15), and the flavor profile (simple, light bodied, yet remarkable) makes for a marriage to any turkey perfect.
Just in case there is room for a cheese course (and indeed there should be) instead of opting for a dessert wine, reach for something light and funky, such as the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon from Senorio de Sarria, a producer from Navarra, Spain who will surprise you for its style (light and earthy) and cost ($12).
Whichever wines you choose, stock plenty of it. Running out during gobble gobble can ruin any post-turkey siesta.