Five Tips on Thanksgiving Wine Pairing for the Wine Idiot

The first thing we learned Thursday night was the downtown Spec's has a second floor, and wandering around looking for the secret door that leads to the elevators made us feel like an idiot.

We already felt vulnerable heading to a wine class, because, at least in this small corner of Eating Our Words, we know almost nothing about wine.

But now, armed with some heavy wine knowledge, we're ready to present our Five Tips on Thanksgiving Wine Pairing for the Wine Idiot.

Note: This information comes courtesy of 1) Joseph Kemble, Spec's Italian wine buyer, who could be an asshole with all his wine knowledge but is really just a good ol' boy. He's spending Thanksgiving with his fishing buddies and drives a truck with a 10-inch lift that runs on vegetable oil. And 2) Nate Rose, Spec's allocation specialist, who basically makes sure the "little guy" doesn't fall through the cracks of Spec's massive business operation. Also a walking wine encyclopedia.

Both Kemble and Rose will be on the floor at Spec's next week, dishing out more wine knowledge.

And now, our Idiot's Guide:

5. Don't pair wines with turkey. Turkey is a bland meat, so don't focus your time and money on finding the perfect wine to complement your bird. The wine should revolve around everything else. Plus, turkey is lame. If it's the only meat featured in your feast, you're still living in 1952. Kemble suggested expanding the meal with wild game meat, and he touted his Thanksgiving recipe of pheasant stuffed with quail.

4. People use oysters in gravy. Seafood probably isn't at the center of most Thanksgiving dinners, but gravy is. Oyster gravy, apparently, is one way to blend the two. And Kemble presented an Abbazia Di Novacella (Italian winery featured in last night's class) Kerner that pairs perfectly with Thanksgiving seafood.

3. Wine makes vegetables fun. Vegetable dishes can really make a wine "sing," and the pairing that works there is Sylvaner. The Abbazia Di Novacella, Kemble said, will make you think you're "walking through someone's garden in the morning."

2. There's only one wine that pairs with spicy food. Other than beer, only Gewurztraminer goes well with spicy food. So if those dishes, like Kemble's wild boar casserole, dominate your Thanksgiving table, don't blow it with the wrong wine. Stick with a Gewurztraminer. "It's the cliche pairing," Rose said. "But it's the correct pairing."

1. If all else fails, go with a Pinot Noir. It's a wine that pairs with almost every staple of Thanksgiving dinner. Even turkey. Just like New Year's is the boom time for champagne, Thanksgiving is time for Pinot. 


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