by Kevin M. Smith

Yup, the holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving is mere days away. Time to start preparing your meal – Wild Turkey, a cranberry lambic, potato vodka…seriously, though, we have one of the biggest food-related holidays of the year coming up, and we’re looking at a day of food, family, parades, and football.

Sure, it’s going to be a little different this year. Some of us won’t be seeing as much of our extended family as we have in the past, some of the celebrations will be significantly smaller than in the past.

Still, the tradition is turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, pumpkin pie, deviled eggs, and what have you.

What to have with all that?

Commonly, the recommendation is a full-bodied, flavorful wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, or an oaked Chardonnay. Personally, I’m not much on the whole oaked Chardonnay thing, but these are choices that work well with, and stand up to the robust flavors of the holiday. However, if you are looking to stay local, I would stay away from the Virginia and Maryland Sauvignon Blancs. That particular grape, in the Mid-Atlantic trends more towards the flavors you get from the Sauv-Blancs of South America – while not bad, I have found that they lack complexity, and have a noticeable minerality to the finish.

That particular grape produces a more robust wine in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and the Marlborough Region of New Zealand.

Personally, if I’m grabbing wine to pair with my Thanksgiving meal, I’m likely reaching for the unoaked Chardonnay or Blaufrankisch from Red Heiffer, or the Cabernet Sauvignon, or possibly even the Cab Franc by Barboursville. I would even reach for a bottle of the Le Reve Rouge by Knob Hall.

If you’re reaching for a beer, again, you’re probably looking at something full and flavorful.

Personally, if I’m kicking off with kick-off, I’m probably starting off with something lighter like the Pilsner from Rockwell, Denizen’s or Wheatland Spring. I don’t want to fill up before it’s time to sit down for a meal. Maybe it’s the old man in me, but I would even potentially consider something sessionable before the meal.

During the meal, I like to reach for something more flavorful – Phrased #10 by Idiom, Go Thank Yourself by Rough Edges, 1623’s Marzen are all brews that will stand up well to the flavors of Thanksgiving. As you move onto desert, seek out a chocolate, a coffee, or a milk stout – Raise the Dead by Antietam, or the Milk Stout at Vanish.

Now – that’s not to say there aren’t plenty of other brews that would pair well – personally, when I can land one, a good barleywine pairs well with turkey. And, let’s face it, there are a ton of breweries in the region killing it, plenty of wineries making some nice wines, and I would talk about cocktails, but I only recently started working my way through Maryland distilleries, so that’s not quite my wheelhouse yet.

Also, any recommendations of pairings always come with a caveat, which is: drink what you like.

Until next time, stay health, and drink craft.