November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving inspires more people to ask me questions about pairing than any other holiday. The classic dinner demands a drink that’s bold but versatile to stand up to the rich dishes with their seasonal spectrum of flavors, and it seems like it’s the one meal of the year for which people who normally wouldn’t think twice suddenly want the right drink rather than their standard choice. Old-school wine experts have traditionally recommended old Cabernet. A great choice if you have a serious cellar, but not so easy (or affordable) for most people. I’m a big fan of a sparkling drink to help scrub the palate between bites and I love to suggest the under-appreciated French farmhouse beer style called “Bière de Garde” or a drier Lambrusco for folks who think beer isn’t right for the occasion (poor souls). I’ve often made mulled cider to sip all day- seasoned with a little citrus, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, it’s delicious virgin but better with a splash or two of your favorite whiskey or rum.

But it’s after dinner that’s on my mind today. After stuffing myself I crave a digestif, and while some would demand an iconic American spirit like Bourbon or Rye to follow the iconic American meal, I find myself reaching for one of the excellent apple-based spirits from Normandie in France (France was instrumental in the US victory over England in the Revolutionary War so it’s quite fitting). A well-aged Calvados would certainly do the trick, but this year I’m bringing a bottle of “Pome”- a blend of Calvados and apple must similar to Pommeau but aged much longer (my bottle of 1998 Pome from Famille Dupont spent 7 years in old Calvados casks as opposed to the legal maximum of 30 months for Pommeau). In Normandie it’s the kind of thing one would drink as an apéritif, but I prefer it after a meal & I think it will be the perfect finish for a long day of feasting.