Dare to Pair: Northern Michigan Wines for Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving meal is loaded with a mind-bending milieu of textures, flavors and ingredients, such that finding a single wine that pairs well with all of them seems impossible. Don’t freak out. Instead of trying to match up the minutiae, your best strategy is to go for grapes that themselves embrace a wide flavor spectrum. The nuances of roast turkey (recipe!) and the sweet/savory interplay of traditional side dishes preclude wines that are massively dry or tannic and favor those with a harmony of bright fruit, acid and even a little residual sweetness. Read on as we profile six local wines for Thanksgiving that will invite some bacchanalian ruckus to your turkey day table and keep all the relatives smiling.


Riesling

A wine without borders, the gratuitous pleasures of this noble grape can hang with everything from giblets to Jell-O salad. We suggest you front-load your fridge with medium dry and medium sweet wines for dinner and some late harvest or ice wine for dessert.

  • Bowers Harbor Riesling, Smokey Hollow 2013
  • Left Foot Charley The Missing Spire Riesling 2013 (2015 Missing Spire Riesling available online here)
  • Black Star Farms Arcturos Winter Harvest Riesling 2012

Pinot Noir

Site selection and meticulous winemaking are yielding peninsular pinot noirs with layers of depth and verve never before seen in the North. Black cherry, dried petal and baking spices orbit elegant texture and acidity that bring oeno-elation to the turkey day spread.

  • Willow Vineyard Estate Bottled Pinot Noir 2013
  • Brys Estate Pinot Noir 2013

Bubbles

The inherent effervescence, acidity and bright fruit found in both bottle- and tank-fermented bubblies give them remarkable flexibility to handle the meal’s myriad flavors from canapés to pie.

Gewürztraminer

Ultra-aromatic in its expression of fragrant rose petal and exotic fruits, an unctuously textured and finely balanced gewürtztraminer can deftly dialogue with the sweet and savory forces at work on the Thanksgiving table.

  • Peninsula Cellars Manigold Gewürztraminer 2013 (sold out)
  • Shady Lane Cellars Gewürtztraminer 2013

Gamay

The nimbly structured, effusively fruity Gamay grape flashes tart cherry and fresh peppercorn character in front of a dry fresh finish. Democratically drinkable for winos in both the red and white camps, this sexy vitis vinifera accommodates wild mushroom gravy and butternut squash soufflé with equal aplomb.

  • Chateau Grand Traverse Gamay Noir 2013 (sold out)
  • Hawthorne Gamay Noir 2013

Rosé

Our local rosés of cabernet franc and pinot noir are dominated by red cherry and strawberry fruit couched in moderate body, bright acid and a soupçon of sweetness. White meat? Dark meat? Wild rice and dried cherry dressing? No problem.

This article was featured in the November 2014 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine. Get your copy here!


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