Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. It’s a time for family, food, wine, and giving thanks for all our blessings. There are so many great wines to choose from, but wines from the Loire Valley (France) seem made for the occasion. The Loire Valley is home to wines that pair perfectly with Thanksgiving feasts. Let’s get to know a little bit about this unique wine region in northern France, which runs east to west along the Loire River.
The valley is full of iconic wines: Vouvray, Muscadet, Chinon and Sancerre are just a few. Like most wines from France, the region’s name gives away the varietal. Sancerre is Sauvignon Blanc, Chinon is Cabernet Franc, Vouvray is Chenin Blanc, and Muscadet is Melon de Bourgogne. The other key characteristic of French wines is that they are made to drink with food. The French have been honing this marriage of food and wine for centuries. All of these are perfect for Thanksgiving fare, but Chinon and Vouvray stand out from the crowd.
Cabernet Franc (Chinon) and Chenin Blanc (Vouvray) match well with poultry, roasted vegetables and potatoes. Both have structure and balance well suited for Thanksgiving (see last month’s issue on wine structure). Characteristics like low tannins, medium dryness and high acidity are made to order for the rich and starchy foods of the holiday. One word of caution… your cranberry sauce is a tough pair for any wine, so please don’t blame the Loire Valley!