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Top wine and Thanksgiving pairings

We quizzed 10 members of the HK and China drinks trade about which wines they’ll be pairing with Thanksgiving dinner this year. All you need is a glass in hand…

Who can imagine Thanksgiving without wine? In Hong Kong, Thanksgiving is celebrated with lashings of wine, Port (and sometimes spirits for the more hardened drinkers of us) and the unanimous decision seems to be that just pair whatever you like with whatever you like.

However for those who would like some guidance, we’ve tracked down 10 key people in the trade and quizzed them on exactly which wines they’d be proud to serve up alongside their turkey crown, maple glazed carrots and pumpkin pie…

Judy Chan, CEO of Grace Vineyards

This year, I will pick Deep Blue, Grace Vineyards’ Cabernet/Merlot blend. It has lots of berry, blackcurrant and violet with sweet-cedary notes while being silky on the palate.

It goes well with all kinds of stuffings, mashed potatoes and of course, turkey! One wine goes with all! The bottles with blue flower label can be a nice decoration as well.

Alison Christ, natural wines expert, sommelier and co-founder of My House bar and restaurant

Natural wines are easy to pair while you’re eating a variety of food because they don’t “take over” the meal, they enhance it.  So my choices this year are:

2010 Jean Foillard Fleurie – this Gamay is a great alternative to the usual Pinot Noir. It has surprising structure and body, nice red fruits and spices.

2012 Domaine Jean Louis & Fabienne Mann Ortel Sylvaner, Muscat, Pinot Gris & Gewurztraminer – this Alsatian blend is very aromatic and has a touch of sweetness with balanced acidity. It can complement the harder things to pair like cranberries and Brussels sprouts.”

2003 Late Pinot Gris Binner Vendanges Tardives – this late harvest wine has some age behind it so it’s not overly sweet and still has nice acidity. It can be paired with cheese, pumpkin pie or apple pie.






Robert Foye, President and managing director of Asia and EMEA at Treasury Wine Estates 

Matua New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – the first Sauvignon Blanc made in New Zealand.  Very fruity, refreshing and easy to drink.  Even people who do not normally drink white wine will love this Matua!

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet – A very economical wine but never disappointing.  An easy-to-drink Australian Cabernet that brings the fruit forward in a very balanced way. Great with dark turkey meat and cranberry sauce.

Penfolds Bin 28 – A classic Barossa Valley Shiraz.  Powerful, fruity yet balanced enough to be enjoyed by any red wine lover.  One of my favorites. Goes well with any part of the meal.

Sarah Heller, proprietor of Heller Beverage Advisory

Because bubbles match everything, I’d start with Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs (patriotism all the way).  From there on it gets tricky, with myriad tart (cranberries!) and sweet (yams!) elements.

To navigate that, I’ll choose something zingy with maybe a touch of sweetness — Zind Humbrecht Riesling Calcaire has acid enough to cut through the gravy, and just enough sugar to not be dried out by pineapple yams.

The only thing conceivably sweet, decadent and treacle-y enough for pecan pie is PX or a Rutherglen sticky — if I can rustle one up, I might do a Grand Tokay from Campbell’s.

Rebecca Leung, wine writer and educator

With roast turkey, it’d have to be Australian Tasmania Pinot Noir or Canadian Prince Edward County Pinot Noir – the gamey and cranberry notes match well with turkey.

For deep-fried (!) turkey I’d go for an Australian Coonawarra Sparkling Shiraz – the soft tannins pair nicely with savory flavors.

Roast potates – Greek Santorini Assyrtiko. It has good crisp acidity with body and finally, with chocolate cream pie, a French Banyuls Grand Cru Sweet wine. Simply a perfect match!

Jonathan Mather, general manager at ASC Fine Wines

Thanksgiving is extremely important to me as it’s also our wedding anniversary! This year, I’ve picked some of our most unique American wines:

Fresh oysters: 2014 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars AVETA Sauvignon Blanc offers a nice citrus zing to get things going in the right direction for the evening.

Home-cured cranberry salmon: 2013 Staglin Family “Salus” Chardonnay – a rich and vibrant wine to stand up to cured salmon.

Roasted beetroot and fresh goat cheese tartlets- 2013 Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2013 – an extremely balanced Sonoma Pinot with red fruit flavors to balance against the beet and acidity of the goat cheese.

Maple and brown butter roasted turkey, thigh and sage ballotine, roasted root vegetables: 2011 La Jota Cabernet Franc, Howell Mountain – with the rich roasted flavors I like Cab Franc’s bright acidity and peppery character.

Pecan pie and pumpkin soufflé: 2005 Eroica Single Berry Select: A fine end to the meal, something to rise to the challenge of the flavors and baking spices yet retaining a certain freshness.


Debra Meiburg MW, MWM Media 

I would determine the key flavour of your holiday meal and then choose the wine accordingly.  For example, if your meal’s dominant flavor is smoky, then a Pinot Noir would be a good match.

For meat-heavy feasts which Thanksgiving tends to be, I’d go with any of the following: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Merlot, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Zinfandel.

With squash-y type vegetables such as pumpkin, squash and yams, then Pinot Blanc or Viognier will pair nicely.

Nellie Ming-Lee CMS, Porterhouse by Laris

For wines to go with Thanksgiving, I usually stick with something that’s a crowd-pleaser – wines that are approachable, quaffable and reasonably priced.

Sparkling – although I usually prefer Champagne, a Cava would be my go-to choice – Pere Ventura Tresor Brut Reserva – it’s crisp and dry on the palate with lots of lemony fruits and a refreshing finish.

White – I’d go for something unoaked like an easy-going Pinot Grigio. Alois Lageder from Alto Adige in Italy is a current fave of mine.  It’s biodynamic with clean bright flavours of green apples and citrus.

Red – A Merlot comes to mind, with its plummy fruit notes, its a great pairing for everything that’s on the table and seeing that Thanksgiving is an American holiday, my choice would be Wente Sandstone Merlot from Livermore Valley in California.

Christian Pillsbury, Asia director for Coravin

For Thanksgiving this year, I’m planning on exploring older Italian wines.

In terms of value, there are few things that compare with Piedmontese wines from the 1960s and 1970s. These mature wines have lovely layered flavors and supple texture perfect for making even the dullest turkey a little more bearable!  Best of all, there are now a number of traders in Hong Kong with deep assortments of compelling wines from top estates.”


Josh Rubenstein, head of wholesale for Berry, Bros & Rudd

2011 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir Cuvee Laurene, Oregon – the perfect accessory to Thanksgiving Day lunch – particularly if you love gravy and stuffing on the side.

As their flagship wine, with depth and concentration of red berry fruit and silky tannins, perfect to complement decadent dressings, while sufficiently elegant allow the subtle flavor of the turkey to shine through.

2010 Ramey Hyde Chardonnay, Napa-Carneros – a superbly elegant wine with lost of bright citrus, pears and nectarines and just a hint of Californian sunshine.




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