Conventional wisdom states that white meat requires a white wine. But conventional wisdom, while occasionally correct, is also suuuuper boring. This year, think outside the white wine aisle for drinks to serve with your big white bird that are more tailored to your everyday tastes.
If you like to drink…
…try Pinot Noir. Although a red wine, Pinot Noir can carry all the characteristics that make white wine a great companion to white meat, namely fruit notes and acidity. Open a bottle of the 2012 vintage of Redtree Pinot Noir, a light and fresh red wine with strong berry notes that’s priced under $10. Or compromise between red and white with a Rosé wine like E. Guigal’s Côtes du Rhône Rosé from 2013, a gorgeous wine with a rich bouquet and fruity flavors that are balanced by earthy and spicy notes.
A pumpkin spice beer would be a no-brainer here, but a richer stout or porter can be surprisingly light and sweet, and will pair well with dark gravies. For example, Wells and Young’s Banana Bread Beer is possibly the most delicious beer ever brewed. This beer is so smooth, with a surprisingly light, peppery taste. It’s definitely not sweet, which is what you might expect, but it does taste like banana bread. Another good bet is the San Luis Valley Brewing Company’s Ol’ 169 Oatmeal Stout, which is so amazing it will completely change the way you think about stouts. While most stouts come off as very strong, with a bitter aftertaste, this one is rich and smooth and just ever so slightly sweet. The aftertaste is mild with no bitterness. It’s the perfect drink for watching the game after you’ve slept off your turkey coma.
The Hard Stuff
Some engines only run on diesel. If you prefer a drop of the hard stuff over beer and wine, you have a lot of holiday-appropriate options reaching back to the Founding Fathers. Buffalo Trace Bourbon is one of the oldest continuously-operating bourbon distilleries in the United States, with a history going back to 1787. It’s also one of the best mid-priced bourbons you can buy, with a light, honeyed sweetness that’s perfect in old fashioneds. If you want to get even more historic, rye was the whiskey that George Washington distilled and drank, and was the quintessential American whiskey up until Prohibition. No pre-Prohibition ryes survive, but both Templeton Rye and Bulleit Rye are good bets. The peppery character of the rye, with it’s typical minty and citrusy finish, makes it a refreshing accompaniment to a big meal. Or, grab your favorite bottle of rum and make a bumbo, the cocktail Washington served to his constituents on election days! A mix of rum, water, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, the bumbo is surprisingly tasty and addictively drinkable.
You know what’s appropriate to serve at ANY party? Champagne! If we’re talking proper champagnes, from the Champagne region of France, Veuve Clicquot is probably the best balance of quality and price you can find. It retails for between $50 and $80 and is just as good as any cuvée de prestige. If you’re like most people and only buy one bottle a year, why not splurge a little? Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to spend upwards of $50 on a bottle of anything, especially if you’re looking at serving a large crowd, so if that’s the case your best bets are sparkling wines. Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut from Spain has a crisp, clean taste that doesn’t overwhelm the palate with bubbles or sweetness. It’s well-balanced, goes with everything, and packs quite a punch. From the other side of the Atlantic and t less than $10 a bottle, Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvée is a classic budget sparkler that is very tart—think biting into a Granny Smith apple—but has just the right amount of bubbles. A perfect champagne to bring balance to a sweet dessert course.