Happiest Hour 

Choosing the right Thanksgiving wine

Admit it: Thanksgiving is the best holiday ever. It is the one day of the year when it is acceptable, nay, encouraged to overeat and over-imbibe. With the glorious holiday less than a week away, turkey is on the brainand, naturally, which drink would go best with the bird. Adam Sandoval, a wine-savvy longtime bartender at The Red Bird Restaurant and Wine Bar, gives a few ideas on which wines will complete the holiday meal.

The approach: Most assume that white meat equals white wine (or at least those of us who only choose wine by the pretty label). It turns out, there is more to it than that. "Think of wine as another dish at the table," Sandoval says. According to Sandoval, the wine should complement rather than mimic what you are eating. A wine with heavy cranberry tones, for example, may be overwhelming on top of the cranberry dish that is already on the table.

click to enlarge PHOTO KELLY CONDE
  • Photo Kelly Conde

Keep it light: Though turkey is the mainstay of the Thanksgiving holiday, its flavor isn't as strong. Because it is a lighter tasting meat, it should be pared with a light wine. For those who only drink red wine, a pinot noir is a good choice because it won't overwhelm the flavor of the food, but is complex enough to stand on its own. With white wine, Sandoval lists a few more choices. A vinho verde is a good, cheap option. "It is light in alcohol and slightly effervescent," Sandovol says. If you want a wine with a bit more bite, a chenin blanc offers a drier, yet fruity flavor. For the sweet tooth at the table, a gewurztraminer is the best option. Those who enjoy some sparkle with their meal are in luck. According to Sandoval, any bubbly will pare nicely with turkey. But if you really want to go crazy, make it a red bubbly. It will complement the cranberry sauce.

Where to find them: To try a bottle or two first, stop by The Red Bird at 111 N. Higgins Ave. Once the Thanksgiving drink list is made, stores including Worden's Market and Deli, Liquid Planet, the Good FoodStore, and CVS provide a variety of wines at a range of prices.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail editor@missoulanews.com.

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