The obvious answer to this question is your finest whisky, after dinner, as a placebo for the real or imagined effects of tryptophan. Preferably also in a really comfortable chair. What you drink during dinner probably has a lot to do with family traditions, much like the dishes on the table themselves. Every family does things their own way. Polling my co-workers produced some interesting results to this question; grandpa’s home-made wine came in as the number one answer in households where alcohol was consumed. To get a really nice complement to turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing, we should look no further than the usual fodder to those hearty dishes, apple and cranberry sauce. Fortunately there are wines that provide that particular type of refreshment.
White Wines (Apple Sauce)
Think refreshing, but with a touch of sweetness to ease up on a dry turkey. Low alcohol is also a consideration in a meal that already puts you to sleep. There are two wines that come to mind that do these things very well. The first is off-dry sparkling wine. This could be either Moscato d’Asti or an off-dry Champagne. These wines can really add to the festive nature of Thanksgiving as well. The second choice that really complements turkey is Rieslings from Germany, as long as they’re not of the cheap sugar water variety that is common in the wine aisle. Good Riesling should be full in flavour, with some residual sugar, but a tart acidity (like an apple) that will make it seem almost dry. Many people have not tried good Riesling and are often surprised by how purely delicious it is.
Red Wines (Cranberry Sauce)
Cranberry is not a tasting note that you’d usually consider positive amongst the popular styles of wine today that taste much more like cherry pie. However a lighter wine with some tartness to it is great at Thanksgiving. Beaujolais Nouveau sounds like a joke but there are some good producers on the market that provide a serious upgrade from homemade wine while providing a lot of similar flavour. Top quality Beaujolais that comes from the top villages of Moulin-a-Vent, Morgon or Fleurie can also be an incredible value if you’d prefer to go with a more serious wine. Resist the temptation to consume a top notch Cabernet or Shiraz which will put you to sleep or leave your mouth feeling like there’s cotton balls in it. As a full-bodied alternative look for a juicy Zinfandel.