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TIP OF THE DAY: Wine Pairings For Thanksgiving

Because Thanksgiving is the American holiday, we always serve American wines.

If pour just one white wine and one red wine at Thanksgiving, that’s O.K.

But for those who want to up their wine-pairing game, the folks at Cameron Hughes Wine (photo #3) have put together a Thanksgiving food and wine pairing guide and an explanation of their choices.

Cameron Hughes focuses on value wines: good wines for $12 to $18 a bottle. He does it by not owning his own vineyards, but instead purchasing grapes directly from growers.

Check out all the wines from Cameron Hughes.

If you think the following amount of wine is “too much” for one Thanksgiving meal…well, it depends on how much of a foodaholic you are. We’ve been serving six different types of wine with big dinners for decades.
1. Apéritif & All-Purpose White: Chardonnay

For those who want a white wine aperitif, Chardonnay is a popular choice. At the table, it pairs with all the traditional dishes. It really shines with green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, which is why it’s also the go-to for vegetarian meals.

2. Turkey: Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the go-to wine for the main course. It is the perfect pairing for turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. If you choose one wine for the dinner table, make it Pinot Noir.

3. Beef: Cabernet Sauvignon

If your Thanksgiving dinner includes prime rib, Cabernet Sauvignon is a heartier wine that stands up to beef, and more substantial dishes and sides like stuffing with especially with sausage or dishes with spicy ingredients like chiles.

4. Beef, Ham & Turkey: Zinfandel

Zinfandel is the happy medium when serving turkey or a roast, and is also a perfect pairing with ham. Its spiciness complements ham’s cloves and a sweet or savory glaze.

5. Seafood & All-Purpose White: Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris (pee-no gree) can be your white wine aperitif, or wine of choice for anyone who only drinks whites. But it shines with shellfish dishes, especially those with olive oil. Its acidity cuts through the rich fats and enhances the crustacean flavors.

6. Apéritif & All-Purpose White: Albariño

This grape from Spain is not as well-known in the U.S., but is is now being planted by more American growers. It is an excellent aperitif, a touch more aromatic than Pinot Gris. It’s an excellent alternative to Pinot Gris for seafood.

7. Dessert

There are fewer dessert wines made in the U.S., but your wine store’s clerk can help you here. If not, look for a Late Harvest Riesling, Ice Wine, Orange Muscat, or one of our favorites, Bonny Doon’s Viognier Vin de Glacière.

In Vino Veritas, and for Thanksgiving, In Vino American Veritas.


[1] So much to eat, so many wines to pair (photo © Aldi).

[2] There’s even a wine for pumpkin pie and other Thanksgiving desserts (photo © Williams Sonoma).

[3] If your crowd are wine enthusiasts, treat them to wine pairings for Thanksgiving (photo © Cameron Hughes).




RECIPE: Pumpkin Soup With Bacon, Sage & Gnocchi

[1] You can serve either gnocchi or tortellini in his rich pumpkin soup (photos #1 and #2 © DeLallo).

[2] If you like, substitute tortellini for the gnocchi in the photo.

Fried Sage Leaves
[3] Flash-fried sage leaves. Here’s the recipe (photo © Saveur Magazine).


This bowl of soup is hearty enough to be the main course at lunch or dinner, with a green salad.

It’s gnocchi in a bowl of thick, silky pumpkin cream soup (here are the different types of soup).

The soup is a creamy pumpkin purée with fresh sage and bacon. The gnocchi are topped with grated parmesan.

“It’s like autumn in a bowl” says DeLallo, creator of the recipe.

You can buy the gnocchi or, if you’re a hand at pasta-making, make it with this kit from DeLallo.

We bought ours, and we also bought some pumpkin tortellini to try it both ways. Both were great!

You may wish to serve the soup with crusty bread and a dish of olive oil for dipping.


  • 1 package DeLallo Mini Potato Gnocchi or 1-1/2 pounds purchased gnocchi or tortellini
  • 1 pound bacon, diced
  • ¼ cup sweet vermouth
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • 1 carton (32 ounces) chicken stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh black pepper
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • Garnish: freshly-grated parmesan cheese
  • Optional garnish: fried sage leaves (Fried Sage Leaves

    1. BOIL a large pot of salted water to cook the gnocchi or tortellini.

    2. HEAT a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp, about 8 minutes.

    2. REMOVE the bacon, set aside and pour in the vermouth. As the alcohol simmers, scrape up any crispy browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a spatula (these bits are known as the fond*). Let the vermouth reduce by roughly half, about 3 minutes. With the pot on medium-high heat…

    3. ADD the onions to the pot and cook until translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the pumpkin and stock, stirring until thoroughly until combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

    4. ADD the cream to the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the sage, pepper and bacon. Then add the vinegar and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the gnocchi to the soup and serve with the sage leaves. When the soup is brought to the table:

    5. PASS around the parmesan cheese so people can choose how much they’d like. We prefer to pass around a wedge of parmesan and a hand grater for the fun of grating one’s own—and also because freshly-grated cheese tastes better.

    Parmesan is salty so this recipe has no salt added, and chicken stock is salted as well. You may wish to have a salt shaker on the table for those who want more.



    *Fond is the French word for bottom, indicating food which sticks to the bottom of the pot and has to be scraped off to be eaten.



    FALL RECIPE: Pumpkin Dessert Waffles

    Here’s a fun seasonal dessert: Pumpkin Dessert Waffles.

    The waffle batter is made with pumpkin pie spices, topped with ice cream and regular or spiced whipped cream.

  • You can mix and match: choose plain or spiced whipped cream, vanilla, maple walnut, pumpkin (photo #4) or salted caramel ice cream, etc.
  • Don’t want waffles? Cut a cider donut in half.
  • Have leftover pumpkin puree? See uses for it below.
  • You can add a drizzle of caramel or chocolate fudge sauce to the plate.
  • Yes, you can also serve them for breakfast with maple syrup, instead of the dessert toppings.

    Make the whipped cream in advance, using an iSi whipped cream maker.

    It’s so much better than commercial aerosol whipped cream. If you use enough whipped cream to give it a bit of space in your cabinet, you’ll be happy to have one.

    Alternatively, you can beat the whipped cream yourself with electric beaters.

    To make whipped cream up to a day in advance, make this stabilized whipped cream recipe, with added gelatin. The gelatin prevents it from collapsing.

    This is our approximation of the recipe in photo #1. You can pre-plate by zig-zagging the caramel or chocolate sauce and set the waffle on top of the sauce. This recipe is courtesy Taste Of Home.

    Ingredients For 6 Waffles

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (photo #2; not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1-1/4 cups buttermilk (you can substitute regular milk)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled (i.e. not hot)
  • Garnish: candied pumpkin seeds (here’s the recipe) sunflower seeds (photo #3), mini chocolate chips or garnish of choice
    For The Whipped Cream (2 Cups)

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1. CHILL the bowl, beaters and cream thoroughly before beginning.

    2. USE an electric mixer to whip the cream, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg on medium-low speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until stiff but still creamy. Set aside.

    2. MAKE the waffles. Mix together in a large bowl the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.

    3. COMBINE the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, milk and butter in another bowl. Beat well. Gently fold in the flour mixture.

    4. COOK according to the waffle iron directions until golden brown. Let the finished waffles cool from hot to warm: Hot waffles will melt the ice cream.

    5. ASSEMBLE and serve immediately.

    Here’s an alternative to whipped cream with pumpkin pie spices.

    Chinese 5-spice powder adds a flavoring adds a little spice to chocolate, coffee, pumpkin, sweet potato and vanilla desserts.
    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder (photo #5)

    1. CHILL the bowl, beaters and cream thoroughly before beginning.

    2. USE an electric mixer to whip the cream, sugar, and five-spice on medium-low speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until stiff but still creamy.

    What do you do when you have half a can—not enough to bake, make ravioli, etc.? Here are some ideas.

  • Breakfast Spread: Blend into softened butter with a bit of brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
  • Chili: Mix it in.

    [1] Pumpkin Dessert Waffles topped with burnt caramel ice cream, from 13 Restaurant | Philadelphia.

    Canned Pumpkin
    [2] If you have leftover pumpkin purée, we have 10 uses for it below. (Photo © Jessica Gavin, Certified Culinary Scientist. Check out her blog of family-friendly recipes.)

    [3] For a garnish or for snacking, we love Superseedz, sweet or savory flavored pumpkin seeds. These are coated with dark chocolate and sea salt (photo © Good Eggs).

    [4] How about some pumpkin ice cream on your pumpkin waffles? Ben & Jerry makes Pumpkin Cheesecake ice cream, Talenti makes Pumpkin Pie (photo © Ben & Jerry).

    [5] Chinese Five-Spice powder is a versatile Chinese seasoning. The five spices vary by region and individual preference. The version from McCormick is perfect for this recipe, since it doesn’t have pepper and savory ingredients. It’s a blend of anise, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and star anise (photo © McCormick).

  • Crostini or Toast Spread: Mix with ricotta. For a savory spread, season with salt and pepper. For a sweet spread, add a bit of brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon.
  • Dessert: Stir it into crème brûlée, flan, panna cotta or rice pudding.
  • Mac & Cheese: Stir it into the cheese sauce.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Blend it in.
  • Milkshake or Smoothie: Make a pumpkin milkshake with vanilla ice cream and a pinch of cinnamon.
  • Oatmeal: Stir it in.
  • Sauce. Make a gravy for meat and poultry. Here’s a recipe.
  • Yogurt: Stir it in.


    FOOD FUN: Hot Chocolate With A Donut Topper

    [1] It’s easy to make: hot chocolate topped with a donut, plus garnish (photo © Adrianna Calvo | Pexels).

    [2] Pirouette cookies. These are the Pirouline brand; Pepperidge Farm sells Pirouettes, which are similar (photo © Pirouline | Facebook).


    Is it breakfast? Dessert? A snack?

    This cup of hot chocolate is topped with a donut, then garnished (photo #1).

    Here’s how to make your own.

    Ingredients For The Hot Chocolate (4 Servings)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa (no sweetener added)
  • Dash salt
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 4 cups milk*
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 donuts (cinnamon-sugar is best)
  • Whipped cream
    For A Dessert Garnish

    You can add whatever you like here. What’s in the photo:

  • Amaretti (buy them or bake them)
  • Chopped nuts
  • Pirouline/Pirouette cookie (photo #2)

    1. MAKE the hot chocolate. Don’t save time by using instant: This is meant to be a quality recipe.

    2. TOP with the donut and the whipped cream. Garnish as desired.

    You may also like this delicious European Spiced Hot Chocolate recipe.

    Don’t want a donut? Check out our 25 ways to enhance and garnish hot chocolate.


    *For really rich hot chocolate, substitute a cup of half-and-half for one or two of the cups of milk.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Cheddies Cheddar Cheese Crackers

    Forget the chips, forget the pretzels: Our favorite crunchy snack is Cheddies cheddar cheese crackers.

    Cheddies were a serendipitous food find.

    Last summer, we were at an enormous trade show—think the Disneyland of food, occupying an entire convention center.

    After tasting samples of every type of food for four hours straight, we could not eat another bite. It was time to go home.

    On the way out, someone handing out samples offered us a bag of Cheddies. We were food-bleary and too tired to refuse, so we dropped them into our tote bag and headed out.

    The next day, as we sorted through the tote bag, we found the little bag of Cheddies and ate them. Delicious!

    We headed to the website, and then to Amazon, where we used our Amazon Prime subscription to save on a shipment of six family-size bags.

    And after re-ordering and enjoying bag after bag, we concluded: Cheddies are more than delicious. They are addictive.

    There are four varieties:

  • Barbeque
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Garlic Parmesan
  • White Cheddar
    The line is all natural, preservative-free and certified kosher. We promise you happy crunching.

    We also use Cheddies for/in/with:

  • Apples or other fresh fruit snack
  • Apple pie crust
  • Bags to treat friends and colleagues
  • Cheese board
  • Chex mix
  • Chili, soup and stew garnish
  • Crust for chicken, fish, mozzarella sticks, etc.
  • Dipping
  • Mac & cheese topping (instead of breadcrumbs)
  • Mixed into popcorn
  • Salad croutons
  • Stocking stuffers

    Cheedies Cheese Crackers
    [1] Cheddies are made in four flavors. White Cheddar is the classic (all photos © Cheddies).

    Cheddies Cheese Crackers
    [2] For portion control, we use a bowl—or we’d go through the whole 3.2-ounce package.

    [3] You can taste the real cheddar.


    The Cheddies line was created by two brothers in college, who weren’t thrilled with the snacks they bought from the store.
    After surveying their peers, nearly all of them enjoyed snacking on cheese crackers.

    So the brothers got to work, starting with whole block, all natural cheddar cheese as the main ingredient. You can taste the cheddar quality in each bite.

  • At You can buy them by the package, by the variety pack, and in a subscription with the first month free.
  • The White Cheddar variety (our favorite) is also available on Amazon.


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