As wine-lovers, it’s easy to over-think the way we pair foods and wines. Certainly, a great match -- such as a juicy steak and a bold Cabernet Sauvignon or zippy fresh goat cheese and a racy Sauvignon Blanc -- can bring exciting revelations in how wine makes food taste better, and vice versa.
But there are times when it’s just as important to match the wine to the occasion itself -- and to the guests who will partake in the fun. Weddings and New Year’s Eve celebrations, for example, demand a sparkling wine no matter what’s on the menu. Summer barbecues plead for lighter wines, even if you’re serving big red meats. And if your grandmother drinks only White Zinfandel, it doesn’t make sense to bring on a Cab with her steak -- pour her a glass of the pink if that’s what she wants.
Thanksgiving is one of those occasions where it might be more important to look at who’s coming rather than what’s on the table. After all, can you really find a wine that matches everything from Aunt Georgia’s creamed onions to Cousin Sharon’s oyster dressing to the morel mushroom quiche your sophisticated neighbor brings to the spread?
Of course, one strategy is to reach for Pinot Noir -- it’s one of the most versatile, food-friendly wines around, and it likely won’t clash with anything. With their juicy fruit, bright acidity and silky texture, Pinots from California, Oregon and New Zealand can be out-and-out crowd-pleasers -- perfect when you’re hosting a houseful.