What wine to serve with Thanksgiving Dinner?

cru beaujolais is the perfect choice for thanksgiving

5 Cru Beaujolais Wines (L to R): Cote de Brouilly, Saint-Amour, Regnie, Julienas, and Morgon. Photo courtesy of chasingthevine.

Hey! What’s up?

It’s that time of year again where everyone has one of those moments where they shake their heads in disbelief and realize “HOLY CRAP – it’s friggin’ Thanksgiving!” That epiphany is usually followed by the typical “Oh my god where has this year gone?” That is then followed by the “what the hell are we gonna do for Thanksgiving? Your parents? My parents? Should we … nervous pause … host Thanksgiving at our house this year (gasp!)?”

Well, whether you are hosting or guesting (not a word, I know – but cut me some slack because I am packing while I write this) don’t forget the wine!

Like my step-daughter likes to point out – Wine is like duct-tape, it fixes everything! And when it comes to finding a wine that solves the problem of what wine to serve with Thanksgiving Dinner, I always recommend Beaujolais.

(BTW – Don’t call DCF on me, it’s just a plaque she bought me at TJ Maxx for like $4 for my birthday one year.)

Why Beaujolais for Thanksgiving? Because it’s a really versatile wine – light and fruity enough to be drunk as a pre-dinner quaffer, but yet sturdy enough to stand up to turkey, stuffing, and mashies. I wouldn’t want to drink it mano a mano with the cranberry sauce (acid vs acid = no bueno), but it’s totally fine when that cranberry sauce is just one layer of that tower of ‘gotta have the whole meal on my fork’ bite that we all love to have (yeah, I’m looking at you!).

Okay, enough of the witty, funny lead-in …

For those of you who are scratching your head and thinking “what the heck is Beaujolais anyway?”, lemme break it down for ya. Beaujolais is wine region in France located just to the south of Burgundy. It’s known for it’s light, fruity red wines made from the Gamay grape. It’s 100% gamay. No blending allowed. FYI – there is actually some Beaujolais blanc that is made from Chardonnay (Yes, they take after their big brother, Burgundy, to the North).

I know what you’re thinking, “Are you talking about Beaujolais Nouveau? I thought that stuff was cheap table wine?”

The quick answer is ‘sort of’. Yeah, Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine that traditionally comes to market this time of year (the third week in November to be exact) and is meant to be drunk immediately. The history of Nouveau is that it originated as a wine to celebrate the harvest. You know, something to drink while the really good stuff sits in barrels for a while. It’s a fresh, fruity, fun wine (yeah, I just wrote that).

The more serious Beaujolais (and the real point of this rather long blog post) is found in what is called Cru Beaujolais which is the highest of the three categories (appellations) of wine produced in Beaujolais. The other two are Beaujolais and Beaujolais Village.

“Okay, sound goods, but how do I know what is a Cru and what isn’t?” Simple: It will say so right on the label. There is one slight catch – you have to know the name of the villages that are designated as Cru. Dont’ freak! I’ve done the work for you. Here is the list of the ten Cru Beaujolais …

List of Cru Beaujolais Appellations:

   Brouilly, Régnié. Chiroubles

   Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Saint-Amour

   Chénas, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent

The first 3 are the lightest of the bunch. The next 3 are more medium bodied. The last 4 are the fullest bodied of the group.

So, snap a pic of this list and take it to the store to help you pick out a Cru Beaujolais that suits your needs. One recommendation that may make your head explode a little: Serve beaujolais a little chilled. I know, I know – “Chilled RED wine??!! WTH?” Trust me – especially if it’s one of the lighter styles. The chill actually helps bring out the fruit. Please note, I said ‘chilled’, not ‘arctic cold’.

There is nothing wrong with the other classes – Nouveau, Beaujolais, and Beaujolais Villages. They are perfectly good wines, but if you wanna ‘woo’ your guests a little (or your hosts) go with the Cru. Why? Well, because you can cite this little blog post that you read and give ’em the back story on beaujolais, how Nouveau came about, and the fact that there are ten designated cru’s. You’ll sound like a wine rock star. You’re welcome 🙂

Oh … and in case you wonder who the heck I am to give wine advice … In a former life, I worked in a couple of wine stores for a bunch of years and hold the WSET’s Higher Certificate so while I’m not a “BIG DEAL”, I do know my stuff when it comes to wine 🙂

Gobble, gobble!

Know someone who could use some advice on selecting the perfect wine to go with turkey this Thanksgiving? Click the ‘Share on Facebook’ link below – sharing is caring 🙂

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