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A little vino for your great big meal

For the cool nights ahead when you’ll have folks coming over, or for that night of decorating, try Ina Garten’s simple recipe for mulled wine. It’s a great last minute drink for suprise guests.

Mulled Wine

4 cups apple cider

1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon

1/4 cup honey

2 cinnamon sticks

1 orange, zested and juiced

4 whole cloves

3 star anise

4 oranges, peeled, for garnish

Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve.

What kind of wine should you serve with your Thanksgiving spread? The kind of wine you like.

If looking for a white wine, something like a reisling or traminette is light, slightly sweet, a good foil for the heavier, herby dishes on the menu.

If you can find a North Carolina viognier, it has notes of citrus,  or maybe apricot and pear, depending on the winemaker. It’s a very easy-to-drink white, without the heavy butter flavor of an oaked chardonnay. An oaky, buttery chardonnay would be too much of a good thing, with buttery potatoes and rich gravy.

North Carolina produces both Reisling and Traminette, or look for a good German Reisling.

Red is a fine choice for turkey, if you pick the right red.

Some wine experts suggest a light red, pinot noir, which belies its name. It’s a fruitier, less acidic wine that will balance with the flavors of fall. It’s lighter and softer than say, cabernet sauvignon, which you can save for your Christmas beef.

A Beaujolais offers the same features. It’s fruity, light and counteracts some of the heavy food.

If you’re looking for a compromise, try a rose. Don’t go for that sweet stuff you drank in your college days. Look for a dry rose, which might have flavors of strawberry or another tart fruit, like raspberry.

Roses are being made with every kind of grape you can imagine, from grenache to, surprisingly, peppery syrah. You can find roses made from cabernet franc, a red grape that grows well in North Carolina. And, back to pinor noir, some rose wines are made with pinot noir grapes.

For dessert, a nice port could be the entire course, after all that food.

But a sparkling moscato, pro secco or a Spanish cava will be refreshing with your pumpkin pie.

— Deirdre Parker Smith

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