A Thanksgiving pairing primer, by the letters (with specific wines in parentheses): A is for acidity, which cuts through dry, salty foods and fatty ones, making it a wine's foremost attribute for pairing.

B is for beer, which should be most welcome at the Turkey Day table, along with cider. Cocktails, not so much.

C is for Champagne, Cremant (bubbly from elsewhere in France) and cava (a Spanish sparkler). All work well before or during the repast. (Cristolino Cava, Zinck Cremant)

D is for dressing, a tough dish to complement if sausage or oysters are involved, but no problem if we're just talking sage and butter.

E is for eclectic, because an assortment of wines is the best idea for this polyglot meal.

F is for fortified, as in dessert wines such as Port or Madeira, a great way to cap a meal -- or, in Madeira's case, to punch up the gravy. (Jonesy Port)

G is for grüner veltliner, the sommeliers' darling from Austria; its white-pepper and citrus attributes marry well with many dishes. (Ecker, Loimer, Wolfgang "Gru-vee")

H is for hot and hangover, which you'll risk if you serve high-alcohol wines.

I is for in-laws, whom you (probably) don't want to get tipsy, another reason to go with low-alcohol wines.

J is for Jerez, the home turf of sherry, a once overrated and now underrated aperitif or digestif. (Lustau, Tio Pepe)

K is for kékfrankos (aka lemberger and blaufränkisch), a fruity red that plays well with almost every dish. (Kiona Lemberger)

L is for Le Crescent, the delicious gewürztraminer-like grape developed at the U of M, for a true homegrown meal. (Saint Croix Vineyards)

M is for malbec, the white-hot red that can be a good option as part of an array of wines; beware the oakier offerings, though. (Famiglia Meschini, Piattelli, Crios)

N is for novices; this can be an opportunity to let the younger ones try a bit of wine, especially a low-alcohol, off-dry riesling or Le Crescent.

O is for organically grown grapes, more widely used than ever; U.S. organic wines, though, are problematic because they cannot contain sulfites and thus can spoil easily. (Saracina, Joseph Drouhin)

P is for pinks from Provence; rosés, with the crispness of a white and the body of a red, pair up splendidly with all manner of food. (Font du Broc, Triennes)

Q is for Quinta, part of many Portuguese labels (it means farm, estate or vineyard); fruity, earthy reds from Portugal are a swell option. (Quinta do Valledo, Dow Vale de Bomfim)

R is for riesling, a great match for dishes that are sweet (yams) or tart (cranberries); also a must if you're serving ham. (Charles Smith "Kung Fu Girl," Anthony Road)

S is for sauvignon blanc, whose acidity, verve and herbaceousness make for a beautiful relationship with dressing and the bird. (Beckmen, ranga.ranga)

T is for tryptophan, the element in turkeys that makes us sleepy, and yet another reason to avoid high-alcohol wines.

U is for uvaggio, the Italian word for blends; having a white made from several grapes is almost always a winner at this multifaceted meal. (Sokol Blosser Evolution, Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles, La Vieille Ferme red or white)

V is for Vouvray, which produces the world's best chenin blancs; try two of varying sweet-/dryness at the same table. (La Craie, Domaine Aubuisieres)

W is for winter squash, one of the rare Thanksgiving dishes (along with smoked turkey) that works with chardonnay.

X is for xenophobic; don't be that way on this day, as European wines are generally a better fit -- and hey, the holiday's progenitors were European, too.

Y is for year on the label; Beaujolais Nouveau can be a fun addition to the table, but if it's pre-2009, it's not so nouveau and should be avoided.

Z is for zinfandel, the All-American grape (even if it originated in Croatia), its pepper and fruit making it an annual attendee at our fest. (Four Vines Old Vine, Cline California)

Bill Ward • 612-673-7643