Americans reap a bounty of advice on Thanksgiving wine

NEW YORK Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:26pm EST

A glass of red wine is displayed at Vinitaly wine expo in Verona, April 8, 2011. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

A glass of red wine is displayed at Vinitaly wine expo in Verona, April 8, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - As Americans search for that perfect wine to complement the traditional Thanksgiving feast, experts smile, give a slight shake of their heads and say, just drink what you like.

With so many different competing flavors at the Thanksgiving table, including the turkey, wines can be matched to the cranberry dressing, or even the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes, according to Doug Frost, a wine consultant for United Airlines.

"What I do is put out several different wines on the table," said Frost, who holds the expert titles of Master Sommelier and Master of Wine. "I'm a big fan of dry rosé and they are from all over these days: Italy, Spain, the U.S., of course."

Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, who also has a Master of Wine title, said that for the last decade everyone has talked about Pinot Noir with turkey.

"It's like the perfect cranberry and turkey pairing, but in a glass," she said.

Simonetti-Bryan, whose latest wine course "The Everyday Guide to Wine" is on DVD, said the problem with Pinot Noir is that it is difficult to find a good quality one for under $20.

"Pinot Noir, as a grape, is kind of like the high-priced, fashion supermodel who doesn't get out of bed for less than $100,000. It's amazing, but you're going to have to pay for it," she explained.

Instead, she suggested an Austrian red, Blaufrankisch, that is similar to Pinot Noir and sells for less than $20 a bottle. Blaufrankisch has a little darker character than a Pinot Noir, "but it has a softness and a nice pepperiness that complements not only Thanksgiving Turkey, but also sage stuffing."

Two of her favorites are Weingut J. Heinrich Blaufrankisch and Nittnaus Blaufrankisch, which each cost about $16 a bottle.

Master of Wine Lisa Granik, who will be spending Thanksgiving in Australia where she expects to be eating kangaroo and drinking Australian Barossa Shiraz, is usually partial to California Zinfandels to pair with the traditional turkey meal, especially those from Turley Wine Cellars.

The prices for Turley's Old Vines, Mead Ranch or Pesenti Zinfandels range from about $26 to more than $50 a bottle.

In addition to the dry rosé, Frost said he loves German Rieslings, especially a Spatlese, with turkey. Joh. Jos. Prum's Riesling Spatlese sells for about $30 a bottle. For a red wine, he prefers Beaujolais Crus or any red Rhone wines, which range from $8 to $20 a bottle, depending on the producer.

For the dessert course, Frost suggests a late-harvest Vidal Blanc, which sells for up to $12, or a more expensive ice wine at $40 for a half bottle, as good pairings with pumpkin pie.

"They both have an insipient tartness to them. They come off real sweet at first and then get tart near the end. Pumpkin pie needs a powerful wine, not a super-sweet one," he said.

(Reporting by Leslie Gevirtz, editing by Patricia Reaney and David Gregorio)

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