Everyone knows turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes have a place on the Thanksgiving table.
But what about the beverages?
Whether it's dinner with the family on Turkey Day or attending a swanky holiday party, the perfect alcoholic beverage pairings are essential. Choosing what to bring or serve is the difficult part.
At Merchant's Fine Wine in Dearborn, owner John Lossia and cicerone Annette May are there to help.
"Choose a wine not based on the food, but on the people," Lossia says of picking a holiday pairing. "Sometimes people get too into matching.
"The people are the holiday—it's just a time to drink wine, and a lot of it," he adds.
For holiday parties, Lossia recommends serving a variety of wines to please all guests' palettes, and to worry less about matching flavors.
At more fancy, sit-down meals like Thanksgiving or an upscale dinner, "match the acids in the wine with the acids in the food."
For example, a more acidic pasta dish needs an Italian wine to balance it out; Thanksgiving turkey can go better with a softer Pinot Noir. And if you're giving the wine as a thank-you gift to the host, don't worry about matching it to the food at all.
"They shouldn't have to open that bottle anyway," Lossia explains.
As far as beer goes, May says, the rules are pretty similar to wine.
"Light goes with light—match the intensity," she says.
Serving a spicy dish? Try a sweet, malty beer. With a traditional turkey dinner, the options are quite open—from a pumpkin ale to an amber or brown ale.
"Beer is so much better with turkey (than wine)," May insists.
Just don't make the mistake of matching the flavors too closely—like a pumpkin beer with pumpkin pie.
"Complement or contrast," she adds. "Either works really well."
Here are Lossia and May's top picks for wines and beers to give as gifts:
- Meiomi Belle Glos Pinot Noir ("It's fuller bodied," Lossia says)
- Castle Rock Pinor Noir
- Mark West Pinot Carneros (California produces brighter fruit for a great pinot.")
- Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay
- Decoy Savignon Blanc
- Bell's Christmas Ale ("It's delicious and it's made in Michigan," May says)
- Anchor Brewing Company's Christmas Ale
- Westmalle Trappest Trippel Ale ("Beautiful beer, beautiful packaging, goes with everything.")
- Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza (For the craft beer-lover only)
- Sam Adams Winter Classics variety 12-pack
And when all else fails, Lossia concluded, a Prosecco, champagne or sparkling wine can't fail during the holiday season.
"That's always an appropriate gift," he says.