50 Best Restaurants: Thanksgiving Wine Tips from 80 Thoreau

If there’s anything the team at 50 Best Restaurants pick 80 Thoreau does right, it’s present food and wine that complement each other as well as the seasons. So today, while thinking about my own Thanksgiving menu, I asked 80 Thoreau’s Maitre d’ and co-owner Vincent Vela for some tips on what to drink with the big bird.

“Crisp white wines are a wonderful way to start,” he told me. Because the holiday meal tends to feature hearty and rich appetizers — my own go-to dishes are cheddar-chive gougères and curried butternut squash soup — he recommends a medium-bodied white with a slight buttery notes and moderate acidity. An unoaked Chardonnay is a good bet, particularly Chablis. Vela loves Domaine Christian Moreau Chablis 1er Cru 2009. “It has a balanced amount of floral and citrus notes that make it easy to drink alone or enjoy with light canapés before everyone sits at the table,” he explains.

For the main course, Vela likes the versatility of Côtes du Rhone reds, which can pair equally well with white and dark meat. But because it’s a very American holiday, his pick is Kunin Pape Star 2009, from the central coast of California. It’s a blend made from the traditional Rhone grape varietals Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. “It has essence of ripe berry and cherry fruit with light tannins,” he says, and its acidity and subtle fruitiness make it a crowd-pleasing, turkey-and-stuffing friendly sipper.

Now, what to drink with pumpkin pie … and apple pie … and the cheese course … (80 Thoreau St., Concord. Info: 978-318-0008, 80thoreau.com)