Thanksgiving dinner would not be complete without a glass of wine to complement the feast, and Maryland-made wines offer ample options.
Wine connoisseurs need look no further than a local vineyard to find the holiday wine that is right for them, says Regina McCarthy, marketing coordinator for the Maryland Wineries Association, a nonprofit trade group that represents the state’s 52 wineries.
“A great thing Maryland offers is food-friendly wines,” McCarthy says. “Because we are a cooler climate here on the East Coast, our wines aren’t too overpowering in terms of fruitiness or high-alcohol. Even the red wines are just beautiful with food because they are not too overpowering ... they enhance a meal instead of taking away from it.”
In 2011, wine selection is no longer about following the rules, but following your taste buds, she says. Don’t make yourself sit through a glass of wine you don’t like just because it is supposed to go with one type of food or another.
“There are a lot of old rules that have kind of gone away about white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat,” she says. “Those have kind of gone by the wayside and it’s really about what you like and what tastes good to you.”
If you like sparkling wine
The effervescence of sparkling wines goes well with heavy dishes like meat and potatoes in the main course of a Thanksgiving dinner, McCarthy says. The bubbles in the wine are nice for cleansing the palate and go well with the entire meal.
McCarthy herself plans to serve Spencerville Red Hard Apple, a dry sparkling apple wine made by Great Shoals Winery in Princess Anne.
“That’s a great festive wine, and it’s made by all apples grown in Montgomery County,” she says.
If you like white wine
A variety of white wines go well with the elements of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, according to McCarthy. Light white wines such as an Albariño or Pinot Gris will provide a nice complement, while heavy oak Chardonnays should be avoided.
Consider a traditional-style wine from Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards in Dickerson such as its classic Pinot Grigio or sharp and fruity Chardonnay.
If you like red wine
Stick with the lighter red wines because of the heaviness of the rest of the meal, McCarthy says. A good wine should complement, not dominate the meal.
Knob Hall Winery in Clear Spring offers a unique Chambourcin red wine that is “nice and rich and would go great with Thanksgiving dinner,” she says.
Staying true to its name, Thanksgiving Farms winery in Harwood has a Bordeaux-style Meritage blend with a balanced and “festive feel,” McCarthy says.
Sweet late harvest wines, meads and sparkling wines go perfectly with dessert, McCarthy says.
“A lot of times, people think that sweet wine with a sweet dessert would become overpowering, but in fact, with the sweetness of both the dessert and the wine, it balances itself out very nicely,” she says.
McCarthy recommends Cygnus Wine Cellars in Manchester for beautiful late harvest wines, and Orchid Cellar Winery in Middletown for great dessert wines.
For something different, try the fresh Nouveau wine at Linganore Winecellars in Mount Airy, where this season’s grapes are fermented for just a few weeks.
Wine all weekend long
Don’t put a cork in the fun on Thursday and instead, create a weekend wine tasting adventure as a way to occupy holiday visitors, McCarthy says.
“Things are getting really festive out at the wineries right now. They’re wrapping up all of their fall wine making process and getting ready for Christmas,” she says. “It’s a great way to spend some time that weekend after Thanksgiving with friends and family who have come from out of town.”
The Maryland Wineries Association has created five “wine trails” that help visitors plan a day of visiting a cluster of nearby wineries. Their Frederick Wine Trail highlights eight wineries in Frederick and Montgomery counties.
For more information on how to buy wine from the 52 wineries in Maryland, visit the Maryland Wineries Association at www.marylandwine.com.