Here we are once more, where from month to month holidays and family get-together’s guide us to the end of the year. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, the memory of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so many children running around. Here in Virginia, Fall is my favorite season by far. By the time it arrives, we’ve survived a hot and humid month, and the cool air is a breath of fresh air. The leaves changing in the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounds us in a setting that could not be more breathtaking. I pull out all of my favorite sweaters, my boots and fuzzy hats, and of course the Thanksgiving wine collected.
Autumn in full swing
First, there is back to school. Memories flood in of freshly sharpened pencils and new clothes. Then there is Halloween, with last minute costumes and far too many sweets. Then there is Thanksgiving. In our family this means anywhere from 20-40 family members from near and far to catch up with. Some bring beer, some bring cider, I bring wine. Yes, Thanksgiving wine. The perfect drink to warm up with and to sip while casually discussing the years ups & downs. A delicious bottle of wine to accompany the grand feast, and more with dessert, because why not? We will be here for a while, and it pushes me to just the right amount of chattiness.
What makes for a perfect Thanksgiving wine?
There are so many dishes to consider, and spices that are utilized. So let’s begin at the beginning, the appetizers. As everyone first arrives, and the first dishes are laid out, we let the munching begin. Our family is made up of 12 kids between the ages of 12 and 42 Brady Bunch style, me being one right in the middle. The 10th grand-baby is due November 30th, and our ever expanding family knows how to eat.
- Incredible Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
- These are pretty incredible, but you can’t make too many because other wise your guests may fill up on them! If you are traveling for Thanksgiving, I’ll tend to make them ahead of time and bring them on a cookie tray or something of the sort and finish them off once we’re at said destination. They are super simple with as little as 3 ingredients, feel free to be inspired in your choice of sausage as that will be the deciding factor on what you bring to the table. (I like using baby bella mushrooms, and love the selection of sausage at our local Whole Foods! They make it in house, but I’m sure your local butcher will also have a great selection.)
- Bacon (or Prosciutto) Wrapped Dates
- You cannot go wrong with bacon, but if you feel like classing it up Prosciutto is definitely the way to go. Now, this can be as easy as wrapping each date in 1/3 of a slice of bacon, poking it with a toothpick and tossing them in the oven until the bacon is cooked. (Tip: You can semi cook the bacon and then wrap the dates and then finish in the oven all together as well.)
- Upgrades: Prosciutto and stuff with goat cheese or another soft cheese, your in-laws will never stop talking about it.
- Spinach & Artichoke Dip
- There isn’t much more delicious that freshly baked bread, but if you add this yummy dip, it might just mean heaven on earth. Now, if you have the time and can home-make bread, I am all for saying just do it. But, if you have 1,000 things going on in the kitchen and this seems highly unlikely get an easy bake baguette or dinner rolls from the grocery and in 10 minutes serve them out with this dip. Voila!
- Meat & Cheese Plate
- This is a personal preference plate. Grab a soft cheese, some semi-soft, some hard along with some crackers, dried berries, some different salamis, and you’re set!
Now, Thanksgiving Wine Round 1! As everyone is settling in and snacking, a bottle of bubbly is a wonderful way to break the ice. I love bubbly wines as I always feel like I’m celebrating when I am drinking them. Why not celebrate the opportunity to gather with loved ones big & small. We know we won’t agree on everything, and we don’t need to. Enjoy the food, cheers to health and happiness, and everyone will be better off.
Some Virginia Sparkling Wines I recommend:
- Veritas Scintilla – the elegant sparkler
- Afton Mountain Vineyards’ Bollicine
- Thibaut-Janisson’s Blanc de Chardonnay
- Zuppa Toscana
- This is my momma’s go-to soup recipe. This decadent Italian inspired soup is perfect for warming you up from the inside out. If you have fresh rolls coming out for your appetizers, put this soup nearby as they will be excellent accompaniment.
You’ll want an ice bucket set out with a bottle of Pinot Grigio or a lightly oaked (to no oak) Chardonnay nearby. You will not regret your house full of happy family members this year as they sip their excellently paired wines! I would recommend Barboursville’s Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay.
- Your turkey, your way.
- Mashed Potatoes
- Our family mashed potatoes are loaded with butter, whole milk, salt & pepper. Nothing fancy, always delicious.
- Pomegranate Salad
- Smitten Kitchen is my go to for a special recipe. Last year I skeptically made this recipe for the first time, and it was a smash hit! I’ve never made anything with raw brussels sprouts, but this salad was surprisingly refreshing and seasonal. Loved the crunch of the sprouts and juicy pomegranate seeds!
- Sweet Potatoes
- There is of course the classic marshmallow topping, or a brown sugar pecan topping.
Keep it simple by transitioning the sparkling wine and Chardonnay to your Main Course Thanksgiving Wine. Add in a couple more choices, perhaps a red or two would certainly be a nice addition to the meal. If you are heading to Barboursville Vineyards already, you could snag their Reserve Cabernet Franc. Shenandoah Vineyards & Pollack Vineyards have great Cabernet Francs as well.
- Perfect Pumpkin Pie
- Pumkin pie is simple, delicious and nostalgic for most of us. Its always nice to have this pie around for that reason. PS. Don’t forget the cool whip!
- Baked Brie
- My twin brother first introduced me to baked brie a few years back and I have never ever looked back. Pick your compote or jam of choice to create your masterpiece.
End the evening with a sweet wine and coffee. I recommend, for the last round of Thanksgiving wine:
- Veritas Othello
- Horton Vineyards Blanco Xoco
- New Kent Vineyard Sweet Virginia
Happy Thanksgiving from Virginia!