The only thing better than the turkey on Thanksgiving is the wine, and the only thing better than drinking wine is talking about wine with a hot musician. The band Train has launched a wine company, Save Me San Francisco Wine Co., which has a few wines named after their most famous songs (a little “Soul Sister Pinot Noir,” anyone?). They even donate proceeds to Family House Inc., which supports families of children with cancer.
We chatted with Train guitarist Jimmy Stafford about making wine pairings for Thanksgiving. Read on for his pics, and check out Save Me San Francisco Wine Co. here!
OK!: How do you please an entire table of people when it comes to wine at Thanksgiving?
Jimmy Stafford: I would plan on opening a good bottle of red wine and a good bottle of white wine before dinner to welcome your guests. There are plenty of very good options for under $20 that will do just fine for the pre-meal. You should plan on one bottle for every two adults who imbibe and pay attention as to who is drinking what, so you know what you’ll need to open with dinner.
OK!: What’s your personal favorite wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner?
JS: My go-to wines to serve with Thanksgiving dinner are Cakebread Chardonnay or Rombauer Chardonnay on the slightly higher end, but less expensive options would be Chateau Ste. Michelle, La Crema, or maybe a Chateau de Bonhoste Bordeaux. They sound fancy and taste great for under $20. What I am most excited about this year is our new Soul Sister Pinot Noir, as it is the absolute perfect wine with turkey!
OK!: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish, and what do you pair it with?
JS: My favorite Thanksgiving dish is my wife’s sweet potato casserole. I would probably enjoy a glass of red wine with that to balance the sweetness of the dish. Maybe a Shafer Merlot, a Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, or a Andezon Cotes-du-Rhone Syrah.
OK!: When it comes to a complex meal like Thanksgiving, do you match the wine to the meat or just choose one that will pair well with everything?
JS: Personally, I would match the wine to the meat. Turkey, of course, is my favorite meat to eat on Thanksgiving Day, so I would absolutely want to drink a nice Chardonnay (or perhaps a Pinot Noir) with my meal. But not everyone would agree, so be prepared with a bottle of Zinfandel or perhaps a lighter wine like Sauvignon Blanc.
JS: I think wine is the perfect thing to serve, as people tend to sip it over a period of time. Hopefully they won’t imbibe too much wine. Beer is very filling, and liquor can lead to embarrassing confessions at the dinner table.
OK!: Should people bring wine to Thanksgiving dinner, or will that disrupt the host’s plans? What’s the best thing to bring?
JS: Absolutely! You, as the host, still get to be the judge of what to serve and when. If they bring something you don’t like, open it right away, pour a glass for the person who brought it, then set the bottle on the bar for people to help themselves. You can pour your preferred wine as well. If someone actually brings a nicer bottle you can always choose to serve it with dinner or pour it after the wine you’ve chosen to serve with dinner runs out.
OK!: How can a person figure out what kind of wine they like? What kind of wine do you like, and why?
JS: It’s all a matter of taste. I tend to pair wine with the meal I’m having. My general rule of thumb is white wine for white meat (chicken, fish, pork, pasta with alfredo sauce), and red wine for red meat (steak, burgers, pizza, pasta with red sauce) but you can absolutely mix it up. If I’m drinking wine without a meal, I just order whatever i’m in the mood for. Bartenders are always happy to make a suggestion and will usually even give you a little taste before pouring you a glass.
OK!: Are there any old wine rules that you break, and any that you follow?
JS: I definitely do the pairing, as I mentioned above. And yes, I do tend to drink more red wine in the colder months and chilled white wine in the summer. So I guess I follow the rules!
What’s your favorite type of wine, red or wine? What are you planning to drink at Thanksgiving? Do you follow the wine rules or break them? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @OKMagazine.