Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wines and beers for Thanksgiving

I have the responsibility of selecting the wine for my family's Thanksgiving feast in Raleigh, N.C.

Although I've been writing a regular column about beer for two and a half years now, I've made some notes along the way about wine pairings for Thanksgiving, which might be the most difficult pairing challenge of them all.

Last year, I was moderately successful by offering both a chardonnay and a riesling before and during dinner.

To make those choices, I had flipped through Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, and I had searched the Internet for pairing suggestions. As an addition help, the local grocery store had cards on the shelves with Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast ratings -- I just had to make sure that the year on the card was the same as the year on the available bottles.

This year, I decided to add a zinfandel to the mix, only because I know some in my family will always prefer red. Truth be told, no one will care about the type of wines with this meal as much as I will!

Except for the riesling, for which I have a personal affection, I tried to stick to the affordable end of the available wines.

So here are the selections:

Hogue Columbia Valley Riesling 2007 (received an 87 from Wine Spectator); retails around $11 per bottle

King Fish California Chardonnay 2006; retails around $6 per bottle

Barefoot Zinfandel from Lodi, California (no date); retails around $7 per bottle

Earlier this year, I wrote a cover story for a local weekly about beer-and-food pairings, but I still decided not to spend the money on better beers for pairing purposes. Most of my family will drink wine with the meal.

Recently, I have gained a new appreciation and respect for big domestic brewers, and it just so happens that a new beer by Bud and an long-standing beer by Michelob have become personal favorites. Here's what the Thanksgiving beer cooler looks like:

Budweiser American Ale: This new beer from Bud is an all-malt ale with Pacific Cascade hops.

Michelob Lager: A traditional, all-malt lager with European hops.

Woodchuck Amber Cider: This crisp, refreshing alternative to wine and beer works well with holiday feasts; plus you can still count on a little lift. It's 5 percent.

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