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Nov 25, 2008 06:29 AM

Why Zin on Thanksgiving

Hi all,

I was wondering if I could again pick your brains and gain some knowledge for my wine-drinking future. I understand why Pinot Noir makes a good pairing for Thanksgiving and the various sides that accompany the bird. However, what about Zinfandel lends itself to the holiday so well? Is it the spice in the wine that is able to match up with so many sides? Any help or information would be much appreciated.

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  1. It's American.

    A little too heavy a red for T-Day, IMO.

    3 Replies
    1. re: maria lorraine

      Once again Maria Lorraine has nailed it, it's American and like her I think the wine is way too heavy for the traditional Thanksgiving meal....

      1. re: bubbles4me

        I concur as Zinfandel is not the choice with the Thanksgiving meal at our house.
        We always choose a Pinot Noir for the Turkey and a California Cab to accompany the prime rib.
        Jason, you are too accommodating! We haven't had a White Zinfandel in our house for decades -- Probably the 80's, although it's tough to remember a specific instance.
        We did have a delightful pinkish colored wine for lunch today: 2007 Mas du Fadin Rose Cote du Ventoux. Reasonably priced and refreshing.

        1. re: grantham

          >>> Jason, you are too accommodating! <<<

          35 years in the wine trade and making sure the customer gets what they want . . .

          It dies hard! ;^)

    2. It's American, AND . . .

      Let's be honest about it for a moment. When Zin was a "great" match with Thanksgiving, the style in which most Zinfandels were produced was closer to Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux than it is to today's overripe, 16% alcohol, in-your-face fruit bombs with noticable levels of rs. In the 1970s and 1980s, probably 85-90 percent of Zins would go GREAT with turkey. Today, probably 85-90 percent would go HORRIBLY with turkey!

      I no longer serve Zin for T-day . . . unless it's White Zin and some weird distant cousin loves it, in which case , good manners dictate I have a bottle on hand . . . .


      1 Reply
      1. re: zin1953

        I agree, Jason. That is why I'm going with the new release from Dashe, the 2007 l'Enfant Terrible Zin. 13.8% abv, natural yeasts, unfined, unfiltered. vinified in 900gal barrels.

      2. I usually start with Gwertz & Rieslings plus Pinot Noirs, at the beginning of the meal. Towards the end, when it's mostly turkey and dressing "seconds," I bring out a fruit-forward Zin. The fuller-body works later on in the meal. The fruit-forward aspect pairs well with some of the sweeter tastes, that might be lingering.

        Wife did a Zinfandel basted turkey some years back. Great, and we did not do PNs, just Zin for reds.

        Also, we often either substitute the PNs for Cru BJ, or serve them side-by-side.


        1. I am responsible for my family's wines this year, and I am the only one who is interested in wines and appropriate pairings. I purchased an American rose sparkling wine to start off, followed by a pinot and then have the Seghesio 2007 and/or a Pellegrini Zinfandel to take up with me. If you have any experience with those two producers, will they work for the main course of the meal? Thank you again.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mikek

            Yes, familiar with both...they're a little heavy for Thanksgiving, but food and wine pairing on Thanksgiving is not an exact science (not that it is on other days of the year either).

            Quaffability is important on T-Day. Wines that are easy to drink and toss back. Wines that lubricate the spirit.

            The Zins are a little heavy for that. A coupla of inexpensive Beaujolais and you'll be set. Your Zins will be most enjoyed at another meal, IMO. But if you really want to open them, go for it!

          2. What Maria said. Not a big fain of the pairing. That said, Zins do come in differing styles. Something like a Rafanelli which is spicier and has more medium-toned berry characteristics isgoing to be far better than something like a Biale or Turley which just hits you over the head with plumby fruit (and oak)