Even if large gatherings are off the table this year, many are likely to be serving some traditional recipes on Thursday in a nod to the Thanksgiving table with all its trimmings. What most of those recipes have in common is that they don’t pair as well with dry wines as they do with the lightly sweet styles that are known as “off dry” in the wine trade. The reason is that the dishes we serve most often for Thanksgiving tend to be quite sweet themselves. Historically, this holiday gave thanks for the year’s crops and the spread symbolized the bounty of the autumn harvest. Back when sugar was a costly luxury item, cooking with heaping helpings of sugar was a splurge. That helps explain why this meal is more sugary than most, with the cranberry sauce for the turkey, pineapple glaze on the ham, carrots braised in brown sugar and candied yams.
» READ MORE: Craig LaBan's incredible barbecued turkey
Most dry wines can’t handle this much sugar, since sweetness in food makes wines taste drier, as well as more thin and sour. However, sweeter wines do pair quite nicely when foods have sugary sauces, as with this off-dry California riesling. It is made with fruit from coastal vineyards in two counties of the Central Coast — Monterey and Santa Barbara — using methods pioneered in Germany. The grapes are pressed quickly and fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. When fermentation slows as it nears completion, winemakers drop the temperature at the perfect moment to retain a smidgen of natural grape sugar. The result is a lightweight and refreshing wine that tastes sweet-tart with flavors of Granny Smith apple, lemon and honeysuckle — perfect for gracing any Thanksgiving recipe.
Seaglass Riesling; Monterey, California
$9.99; 12.8% alcohol
PLCB Item #9130
Sale price through Nov. 29 — regularly $11.99
Also available at:
Joe Canal’s in Marlton, N.J. — $9.99
Williamstown Super Buy Rite in Williamstown, N.J., $9.99
Gloucester City Bottlestop in Gloucester City, N.J., $9.99
Kreston Wine & Spirits in Wilmington, $10.49