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Puzzled by Thanksgiving Pairings? A Hill Country Wine Guide

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Puzzled by Thanksgiving Pairings? A Hill Country Wine Guide

By Spring Sault

The decisions on what the trimmings and trappings of a turkey dinner will be, to many people, are just as important as the turkey itself. Determining with whom and where to eat can also cause undue anxiety. One thing you won’t have to stress over, however, is what wine to pair with the bird you’ll be dining on, because in Texas Hill Country, there’s a wine for that!

Puzzled by Thanksgiving Pairings? A Hill Country Wine Guide

Photo: ibtimes.com

Begin by determining how the fowl feast will be cooked. If it’s traditional, more than likely it’s going to be roasted. Other options of course are deep-fried or smoked. And the chance that your turkey will turn out dry becomes exponential if an over-zealous family dinner host newbie puts the bird in too early! Just know that for each style of cooking, there is an equally delicious end-result, but one that varies greatly from the other in taste and texture. So that was easy, right? Next we consider the easy rule of thumb: white wine with white meat and red wine with red. It’s a good rule to have, but in the wine world, rules can be broken. There can be quite a few delicious exceptions and these merely tasteful suggestions are only a sampling of what Hill Country wineries have to offer!

Puzzled by Thanksgiving Pairings? A Hill Country Wine Guide

Photo: dallas.culturemap.com

If your family is partial to oven-roasted, a good recommendation is a full-flavored Pinot Noir, so named due to the fact that its bunches resemble a pine cone in shape (‘pinot’ in French). This is THE red wine grape which has been embraced in regions around the world, including Texas Hill Country. It’s recognized as the paterfamilias of the Pinot family of grape, and in the Lonestar State, Sister Creek Vineyards in Boerne is where it’s at! Experience this delicious drink in all its glory at Sister Creek’s restored 1885 cotton gin setting. Featuring nutmeg and cherry-like aromas, with raspberry, cinnamon, vanilla and toast flavors; this wine is guaranteed to be smooth, handsome and reasonable – unlike the date you brought to last year’s Thanksgiving dinner!

Puzzled by Thanksgiving Pairings? A Hill Country Wine Guide

Photo: mysanantonio.com Courtesy of Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley

Unfortunate but true, sometimes a dry turkey cannot be avoided. Fear not, for in this desert of a meal, the oasis is a Hill Country dry rosé! Ironic but true. Get out your PDA however, because Lewis Wines, located in Johnson City and home to an excellent specimen of such a beverage, is open by appointment only. Featuring one of the top 3 rated dry rosés according to Texas Wine Journal (August, 2015), its Mourvèdre Rosé 2014 is made from a grape variety grown in many regions around the world (including France, Spain and now deep in the heart of Texas!) that can produce a wine pleasant to the nose, with intense fruit flavors and often hints of blackberries. It will charm the dew off the roses (or rosé in this case) and hopefully drop it somewhere in the vicinity of a parched turkey connoisseur.

Puzzled by Thanksgiving Pairings? A Hill Country Wine Guide

Photo: winesisterhood.com

When smoked, a turkey remains tender and absorbs its fume’s flavor including any seasonings and spices that are added. This slow cooking method allows the beautifully browned turkey to truly be the centerpiece it was meant to be. Pairing this with a delectable Petite Sirah from Bending Branch Winery (located near Comfort) will ensure this meal will be something guests talk about for years to come. Bending Branch is a sustainable-practices and organically-focused boutique winery with a passion for artisanal product that’s a credit to Hill Country’s terroir. One taste of their efforts and you’ll be hooked.

A Petite Sirah grape adds structure, color and a tannic backbone to its wine, which again, is probably more than can be said for the date you brought to last year’s Thanksgiving! (What were you thinking?) Similarly, a red Zinfandel will complement a smoked turkey in that its primary flavors of jam, blueberry, black pepper, cherry, plum, boysenberry, cranberry and licorice are all said to burst in a candied fruit savor with a subsequent spice and tobacco-like smoky finish. You can find just such a variety at Torre di Pietra Vineyards in Fredericksburg (and don’t forget to strike a pose on their piazza while you take in the Hill Country views…’dahhhling’!)

Puzzled by Thanksgiving Pairings? A Hill Country Wine Guide

Photo: texaswineandtrail.com

And finally, the red-headed stepchild of the story…a red sparkling wine. Red sparkling wines, to some bougie beverage drinkers, can equate to what deep frying is to roast turkey dinner aficionados – uncouth. However, kicking that old adage in the can, “You are what you eat,” (or drink in this case), a good glass of bubbly contains the same healthy benefits as a glass of red wine, with fewer calories and still as many polyphenols (antioxidants) as a cup of hot chocolate. Translation: it’s as good for you as a cup of cocoa, and probably a lot more fun! Subsequently, pairing a red sparkling wine with a deep fried turkey dinner will go a long way towards earning you the toasts to your good health you so deserve! But since these are simply suggestions, why not break out of the mold, tour the wineries of Texas Hill Country, and bring a wine to dinner that will bolster the meal and add to the witty repartee that goes with it…unlike the date you brought to last year’s Thanksgiving!