Even the traditional Thanksgiving meal has a variety of flavors -- savory, sweet, starchy, sage. Add a twist or two, and it can be a challenge to pick the right beverages to serve with the meal. Food critic Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl from Minnesota Monthly has some suggestions to pair with all your holiday favorites.
FOR THE BEER LOVER: Fulton Brewing, "Sweet Child of Vine"
2011 is shaping up as the year of local brews, and if you want the absolute latest development, as well as something perfect for the Thanksgiving bounty, why not pick up a growler of Fulton from the downtown Minneapolis brewery, which opened to the public for the first time last weekend.
A "growler" is a refillable glass half-gallon of beer. When you bring one home it's typically the freshest possible beer you can get, as it was just filled at the brewery and hasn't spent any time in a truck, in a warehouse, or at a distributor.
Fulton's "Sweet Child of Vine" is a great Thanksgiving pick, as the hoppiness of this IPA clears your palate, but a nice robust maltiness gives the beer the weight to counterbalance that big bounty of foods, from stuffing to pecan pie.
Find it: In Minneapolis' North Loop, near the new Twins stadium. They're open this evening until 7 p.m. For other growler-selling times check their website: fultonbeer.com
TO KEEP WITH THE SPIRIT OF THE HARVEST: Jean Paul Brun Terres Dorees "L'Ancien" Beaujolais Nouveau Vielles Vignes, 2011, $18
The nouveau Beaujolais is the first wine of the year. When Minnesotans were at the State Fair it was being harvested in southern France, and now it's here and ready to be celebrated. It's very grapey, as months-old wine will be, but also tastes very vital and alive. This particular bottle of nouveau is from exceptionally old vines, which leads to nice concentration of flavor.
Find it: At Minneapolis' South Lyndale Liquors, or St. Paul's Wine Thief.
FOR WINE CRITICS AND WINE NOVICES: Cleto Chiarli "Centenario" Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro 2010, $16
This wine is weird: It's bubbly, un-sweet, pretty, delicate, and so red it's nearly black. But it's also great. It's got a very delicate, appealing unsweet blackberry character, and a lilting bit of dark chocolate to it.
It makes wine novices happy simply because it's delicious, yummy, craveable. It makes wine snobs happy because it defies all the conventional wisdom about Lambrusco: It's not sweet, it's not strawberry soda, it's a total head scratcher, and proves to anyone looking over your shoulder that you know the difference between conventional wisdom and wisdom. Best of all, it goes with everything on the Thanksgiving table, from pie to green-bean casserole.
Find it: At St. Paul's Solo Vino.
FOR THE DIFFICULT TO IMPRESS: Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2009; $50
If you want an utterly unassailable, awe-inspiringly pretty wine, you can't go wrong with the 2009 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. Known in wine circles as one of the wines that effectively launched modern American wine culture, when it won the white wine category in the famous "Judgment of Paris" in 1976 -- when California wines bested French ones in a blind tasting meant to prove the opposite.
Pour a glass of this famous wine and you'll find that scents of melon, honeysuckle, and white peach blossoms practically cartwheel out of the glass. The scents are a lovely melody above a lilting and graceful structure.
If you're heading to the boss's house or will be asking prospective in-laws for permission to marry their only child, this is the wine you want to carry along with you. It also goes quite nicely with turkey.
Find it: At Surdyk's in Minneapolis, or look for a location near you on their wine locator at www.montelena.com.