by Cheryl Baehr
Food magazines, blogs and cooking shows abound with images of functional, well-coiffed families gathered around the Thanksgiving table with a glistening, golden-skinned turkey as the centerpiece. In reality, most of us end up eating a freezer-burned, dried-out bird while listening to rants from a crazy uncle and dodging questions about our marital status from prying family members. Fortunately, the Turkey Day table is also filled with a cornucopia of side dishes and (hopefully) copious amounts of booze. For those looking to keep it as classy as possible, Gut Check is here to help by suggesting the following wine pairings for your favorite accoutrements.
Green Bean Casserole
According to a recent poll, Missourians come in third place out of all fifty states for our love of this Thanksgiving staple. Laden with cream of mushroom soup, baked, and garnished with fried onions, this creamy hot dish can be difficult to pair with wine. A bright, crisp, un-oaked white such as an Albaranio will cut through the dish's richness.
Everyone knows that the key to the perfect mashed potatoes is a copious amount of butter. Why stray from this when pairing wine? A luscious, oaked Chardonnay with hints of vanilla and toast is the wine equivalent of adding an extra stick.
Stuffing with Turkey Gravy
Herb stuffing, pulled out of the bird itself and covered with rich turkey gravy, is the quintessential taste of Thanksgiving. Pair it with an earthy pinot noir from Oregon, raise your glass and shake your head politely when Aunt Mildred tries to instead pour you some of her blackberry merlot.
Does anyone actually eat cranberry sauce? If it's quivering, gelatinous and retains the shape of a tin can, the answer is no. If made from actual cranberries, some citrus zest and orange liquor, then grab a hefty spoonful and enjoy it with a glass of dry sparkling wine such as a Spanish cava.
Those fortunate enough to have someone in the family who enjoys cooking real food will probably see some variation of sautéed Brussels sprouts on the table. These little green gems can be a wine-pairing nightmare, but it's not an impossible task. Try serving them with Gruner Veltliner, a crisp white known to work with even the most wine-unfriendly vegetables.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Whether covered in toasted marshmallows or topped with candied pecans, sweet potatoes often appear during the main course, but they're equally appropriate as a dessert. Tawny port was meant to be served with these sweet and sticky beauties. Even better, take your plate and glass outside and enjoy them by a fire pit while catching up with your favorite cousin.