About a month ago I went to the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, which is always one of my favorite events. Even though I’ve lived in the Orlando area for years, this is the first year that we went all out and “drank around the world” with some great friends. Of course, I am no longer in my 20s, so I was done before 8 p.m. We ended the night by riding Spaceship Earth mostly so we could sit down.
Another sign of my disappearing youth is that I was very interested in the seminars and events that take place throughout the festival. The “Back to Basics” series featured “epicurean tips that will have a profound effect on your next dinner party.” The classes were free, which my disappearing bank account appreciated.
The one we attended was about Thanksgiving wine pairings, led by Roxanne Langer, an international wine judge and sommelier. I was extremely jealous of her career, which involves traveling around the country and tasting wines. I really should have taken that wine pairing class in college.
Here are some of the pairings she suggested for your Thanksgiving meal, straight from the notes I took at the class (because I’m a nerd):
Butternut Squash Soup: Rich, creamy soups are often complemented by the sweetness of Madeira wines or sherrys.
Sweet Potato Casserole: Riesling was the suggestion here. This would work out in my family, since my mom and sister like sweeter wines. (One of my favorites is Pacific Rim Riesling, which is always inexpensive and sold pretty much everywhere. You can also get it in “dry” or “sweet.”)
Stuffing (or dressing for us Southern folks): Pair the earthiness of sage and thyme with pinot noir, which can stand up to the strong flavors.
Pumpkin Pie: Sparkling reds are a great pairing for pumpkin pie. I’ve heard that there are sparkling cranberry wines out there, so if you find a good one, let me know.
Pecan Pie: Bourbon was the suggested pairing for pecan pie. I don’t think that comes as a big surprise, as it doesn’t get much more Southern than bourbon and pecans.
The best two wines to serve at Thanksgiving? Pinot noir and Riesling. Sweet wines should be sweeter than the food, and tannin-rich wines are best paired with fats.
Now that I’m armed with this newfound knowledge, I think it’s time to hit up Total Wine. Again.