Wines of all countries have a place at Thanksgiving table

Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:35pm GMT

Nov 20 (Reuters) - Thanksgiving may be the most American of U.S. holidays but wines accompanying the meal need not be limited to home-grown varieties, wine experts said on Tuesday.

Big, bold California Zinfandels, Pinot Noirs from Oregon, Rieslings from New York State and Norton wines from Virginia will have a place on the table.

But as a nation of immigrants many Americans will also give thanks with wines commemorating their roots.

"A great many of the immigrants late in the 19th century were Italians - southern Italians," said wine writer Bill Marsano, who suggested trying some Sicilian wines.

"Reds from the Nerello Mascalese and Nero d'Avola grapes are experiences not to be missed and Cerasuolo di Vittoria is a lighter red," he said, suggesting labels to look for include wines from producers Morgante, Planeta, Settesoli and Regaleali.

Mike DeSimone, co-author of "Wines of the Southern Hemisphere," suggested starting the meal with a sparkling wine such as Miguel Torres Santa Digna Estelado from Chile, a sparkling rosé made from the Pais grape using the same method as in Champagne.

"They're fun and it's a nice way to greet your guests," he said about the sparkling wines.

Lisa Granik, who is one of fewer than 300 people in the world to hold the prestigious Master of Wine credential, recommended pairing wines with the traditional main course of turkey.

"A Beaujolais from 2009 or 2010, are both fantastic vintages. Clos de la Roilette Fleurie, or any of the wines from Domaine de Vissoux will have juicy cranberry notes to compliment the turkey," she said.

A basic Bourgogne Rouge from producers such as Bachelet, Fourrier or Chevillon will work well and won't break the bank, she added.

For people who prefer a white wine Granik suggested a full-bodied Chardonnay from Spain.

"The Marques de Murrieta Rioja Reserva Capellania is flavorful and complex, and will satisfy those who say they only drink red wine."

Master sommelier Doug Frost noted that there was a lot of sweetness in the traditional Thanksgiving Day menu in desserts such as apple, pecan or pumpkin pies. Side dishes, including roasted potatoes with carrots and parsnips, or sweet potatoes or apple-raisin stuffing also have a bit of touch of sweetness.

To balance the palate throughout the meal he suggested Gunderloch Jean Baptiste Kabinett, an off-dry Riesling from Germany.

But whether the wine is red or white, local or foreign, Granik said enjoyment is the key.

"The most important thing is not to worry about it, and drink what you like. The wines are shared and the company of friends and family enhance any wine." (Reporting By Leslie Gevirtz; editing by Patricia Reaney)