Thanks, Virginia: Go local at your holiday table this year

Drinking well-crafted, locally sourced wines, beers, and ciders will be easy at this year’s Thanksgiving table. Staff photo Drinking well-crafted, locally sourced wines, beers, and ciders will be easy at this year’s Thanksgiving table. Staff photo

If you are looking for the perfect beverage to accompany your Thanksgiving meal, area producers have many options, ranging from beer to wine to cider. Here are some recommendations to help you drink well while also drinking local.

Amber and brown ales are obvious options for pairing with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and gravy. The seasonally offered Apple Crumb Apple Ale from Three Notch’d Brewing adds an extra dimension by incorporating apples and cinnamon into the brew. These notes combined with malty, bready, and caramel flavors will remind you of freshly baked apple pie.

A sour or funky farmhouse ale, or even a full-on sour beer, can bring a bit of acid to the table. The sourness  cuts through the fattiness of roasted meats, while side dishes with fruit flavors or sweetness bring out similar fruit notes in the beer. Starr Hill’s Carole Cran-Raspberry Gose, only available through December, delivers autumn berry flavors and a nice balance of sweet and sour fruit.

The vanilla, caramel, and chocolate notes found in porter are a great match for dessert. Strange Currencies, from Reason Beer, was originally brewed as a birthday present from the head brewer to his wife. It’s currently available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans direct from the brewery. It’s full and satisfying enough that it could be served on its own instead of dessert, but who is going to pass on that slice of pie?

Two wines deserve a second recommendation in these pages because they are perfect for Thanksgiving: The 2017 petit manseng from Michael Shaps Wineworks and 2017 pinot noir from Ankida Ridge Vineyards. Shaps’ petit manseng is a dry, white wine with weight and texture that brings flavors of honey, tropical fruit, and nutmeg spice at the finish. As a white wine, it can pair with lighter fare, and with roast chicken or turkey. Pinot noir is the classic red wine to pair with Thanksgiving turkey, and the pinot noir from Ankida Ridge Vineyards is the best example of the varietal in Virginia, full of flavors of cherry, cranberry, plum, and cola. Its long, fruit-filled finish will have your mouth watering and anticipating the next bite or sip.

The 2017 Small Batch Series Viognier from King Family Vineyards should also be on your radar. Winemaker Matthieu Finot ferments these white grapes on their skins, more like a red wine would be produced, thus adding aromatics on the nose, and creating a fullness on the palate, and texture in the mouth that will stand up well to the dishes of the season. Similar to the petit manseng mentioned above, this white wine holds up well throughout the meal.

When it comes to Virginia red wine, we can’t forget cabernet franc, which has the perfect weight and flavors for stewed, roasted, grilled, and smoked meats. The 2019 Madison County cabernet franc from Early Mountain Vineyards is a wonderful example of what this grape can be when grown on a good site and in an excellent vintage year. It’s full of ripe red and black fruits with undertones of green herbs and a full finish highlighted by soft, fine tannins.

For many, cider evokes visions of dry falling leaves, pumpkin patches, and hayrides on the farm. Our local industry continues to push forward with creativity and passion, and cider-lovers are benefiting from interesting small-batch, craft products.

The Cranberry Orange Blossom Cider from Potter’s Craft Cider is a limited and seasonal release. With subtle hints of sweet and sour flavors and a pleasant acidity, it will cut through heavier, fattier dishes and can serve a similar role as the sour beers mentioned above. Intentionally produced at only 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, it’s bright and easy drinking that won’t weigh you down before your celebration is over.

Another intriguing option is the just-released 2019 Bricolage Sparkling Cider from Patois Cider. Featuring wild, unsprayed local apples and a minimal intervention fermentation process, this cider develops fine bubbles in the bottle that are sure to please. The palate shows textural weight expresses a depth of caramelized fruit flavors without being too sweet. Delicious on its own, it will also complement a wide range of dishes. This versatility means you can drink this through the entire day of feasting, or at least until the turkey and football games lull you to sleep.

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