Photo: Claire Lower
The flavor profile of the Thanksgiving meal hasn’t changed much over the years, but that doesn’t stop the endless parade of wine pairing guides that appear each November. I don’t know why we’re still talking about this, as I solved this riddle last year—the only wine you need for Thanksgiving is Champagne (and maybe a pinot noir for your uncle who still thinks all white wine is sweet). Since that’s settled, let’s talk about amaro.
I’m probably biased, but I’ve always thought serving or bringing amaro to a dinner party is more interesting, unexpected, and fun than doing the same with wine. I’m usually a Fernet stan, but that tipple is best saved for after pie, for stomach-settling purposes. Cardamaro, however, is good for the entire meal.
For the uninitiated, know that it is not cardamom flavored, though if someone served me a cardamom liqueur, I would certainly drink it. The wine-based aperitif has a vermouth-y sweetness, but cardoon and blessed thistle (two artichoke cousins) give it a woodsy (not vegetal) Cynar Lite sensibility. It has an earthy, autumnal forest floor kind of flavor, but it’s light and bright enough to sip all evening. It plays extremely well with salty, rich food, making it perfect for our turkey day meal.
It’s also extremely adaptable. You can mix it with another, stronger spirit to kick off the evening, make a spritz for the meal, and drink it neat (or on one big cube) with your pie. It’s pretty good in Champagne, which means you only need two bottles for the whole day. (More if you plan to share, but I’ll leave that decision to you.)