Wine — A Red With Your Leftovers?

Pairings for the day after Thanksgiving

By Tim Protzman

The half devoured turkey carcass lies in its roaster pan.

Someone picked all the Durkee Onion rings off the top of the green bean casserole. And you’re so full of tryptophan that you’re slurring your words worse than Anna Nicole Smith.

Welcome to the day after Thanksgiving.

Not that it wasn’t worth it. The free range bird was juicy and golden brown. The oyster stuffing just like Mom’s. The dishes are done and the guests have gone. You served a wonderful Spanish Cava (sparkling wine) from Heretat Mas Tinell ($21.49) with the hors d’oeuvres and a spicy, sunny Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel (around $32) with Guillermo, the nickname you gave the turkey. It was the perfect meal. The only problem is that you have a refrigerator full of leftovers.

Thanksgiving is the great American holiday. William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony proclaimed it to celebrate the deliverance of the colony and the first successful harvest in 1621. It lasted three days and the Pilgrims and their Indian neighbors celebrated by feasting on lobster, corn, venison and turkey. In 1789, President Washington proclaimed a national day of prayer and thanks to be celebrated on November 26. He wanted Americans of all denominations to stop, pause and reflect upon the good fortune and good government they had established. But it wasn’t until the Civil War that it became an official National Holiday. And it took a woman to get the ball rolling.

Sarah Hale was the editor of Ladies Magazine of Boston. Through editorials and letters she persuaded Abraham Lincoln to designate the last Thursday in November as a “day of national thanksgiving and prayer.” Needless to say Mrs. Hale probably had plenty of servants to help her prepare the feast, and that first national Thanksgiving became an American tradition which we’ve celebrated since 1863. (Although FDR moved it to the fourth Thursday in 1939) Today, there’s not an American alive that doesn’t briefly reflect on our heritage and our blessings as a nation before carving that first drumstick.

All this prayer, reflection and giving thanks aside, we Americans have managed to transform Thanksgiving into a four day marathon of football, shopping, family time and rest. We morph seamlessly into the holiday season almost immediately. We head to the malls and prepare for Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. Which leaves this connoisseur itching to answer the eternal question; what wine goes with day old turkey, pizza and takeout Chinese?

If I could divert the gross pizza sales for the day after Thanksgiving into my bank account, I’d be writing this from my castle on the moon. American mothers, tired from days of cooking and shopping, pick up the phone and speed dial Domino’s. Fathers stiff from sitting and watching the Bowl Games call in double orders of Lo Mein. Across America millions of toasters heat slices of Pepperidge Farms that will frame a mélange of turkey, stuffing, cranberry, lettuce and mayo. It’s a relaxed day. It’s a family day. It’s a day that begs for a good wine.

Italian cuisine is always a welcome change from Thanksgiving fare. Pizza, spaghetti, lasagna and even a tortellini and kale soup made with turkey go well with a barbera, a wonderful little grape from Italy’s Piedmonte region.

Prunotto Barbera d’Asti Fiulot $12.99. Lots of fruit and deep, rich ruby red color. Made to stand up to tomato sauces and thick, heavy gravies.

Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Superiore. $17.49. A little more subtle but still full of sunny fruit and chocolate grace notes.

Nowadays, more and more Asian food is being pared with wine. I like a gentle, unoaked chardonnay which compliments the unique flavors without being a distraction.

Woodbridge Select Vineyard Series “Ghost Oak” Chardonnay is a nice treat. It gets its name from the way the ancient Californian oak trees look in the morning fog. The wine is Burgundian in nature, but has a slightly sweet finish which complements the hot peppers and wasabi commonly used in Asian cooking. The price is $10.99.

For those with enough energy to actually cook on Thanksgiving Friday, the leftover turkey presents a raft of possibilities. Turkey a la King, Turkey Pot Pie, Turkey Tetrazzini all come to mind. These creamy dishes are heavy and a good pinot grigio counter balances them without any conflict.

Lagaria Pinot Grigio from the vineyards north and west of Venice is a fun wine that presents green apple and lemon fruit with the right amount of acidity to be heard above heavier, cream based comfort foods like macaroni and cheese. Plus, at $11.99 it hasn’t succumbed to the inflationary pressures of pinot grigio’s newfound popularity.

For that leviathan-sized turkey sandwich, I’d go with a Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen made from wheat, instead of barley this beer is lighter, sweeter and a bit more effervescent than regular lagers. $6.99 for a six pack, made in Oregon by Red Hook Brewery.

Tell Tim your wine stories. You can reach him at

Find the wines discussed in Hippo’s food section at state liquor stores. For exact locations of your favorite juice, go to

—Tim Protzman

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