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Guide to French wines for Thanksgiving Dinner

Glass of red wine on a wooden table covered in autumn leaves for Thanksgiving

The tradition of Thanksgiving in both America and Canada is linked to the early British and French settlers who journeyed to the  Northern American continent. The first arrivals from Europe were in fact French. They arrived some 50 years ahead of the Mayflower Pilgrims despite the myths that claim the English pilgrims were first. We’ll be celebrating the day with French wine, and here’s our guide to French wine for the Thanksgiving Dinner…

Thanksgiving in America – The French Connection

The Smithsonian Magazine states that the first settlers were French Huguenots driven from France by religious persecution. They landed in Florida in 1564. The Pilgrims arrived in 1620.

The French arrivals held a service of ‘thanksgiving’. The Spanish also arrived before the English and set about the continued persecution of the French non-Catholic emigrés with the result that they were overlooked by history.

Thanksgiving now, as then, is an expression of gratitude for America’s bounty and promise. It’s a more important holiday than Christmas for most Americans.

Guide to picking wine for Thanksgiving dinner

Well for starters, we think it should be French wine in memory of those early settlers.

If you’re serving appetizers and cheese to nibble on before the big meal, Champagne is ideal as a standalone of paired with creamier cheeses. We also recommend Chardonnay or Côteaux Bourguignon if you’re serving cheesy dishes.

When it comes to the main meal, rich Turkey dishes pair well with red wines, especially from the Rhone Valley and Burgundy. On the East Coast, shellfish is a popular main dish. Pair lobster and crab with Champagne or a fresh, fruity white. If you’re going for a beef dish, you can’t go wrong with a ruby red Bordeaux. And for fish dishes, try a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, though if you prefer red, a bright floral red goes well with fish like tuna and salmon. It also goes well with creamy cheese like Brie and Camembert.

For dessert, if you’re having pumpkin pie, a light white from Alsace pairs perfectly, Gewurtztraminer for instance, or a Chardonnay.

If you only choose one wine though make it sparkling! Champagne or Vouvray pair well with every course of the meal – from appetizers to dessert.

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