Ok, so we’re very excited to wine our turkey – aka, brine as other people say, but those people aren’t grapefriends and are missing the point. Traditionally, we never do this but after I wrote about Martha’s winey recipe we decided to give it a go.
First, here’s what brining does – it sounds very science fictiony:
When lean protein is put into salty liquid, the brine’s salt concentration is higher than the “dissolved solids” in the meat. The brine sucks out moisture from the meat and goes into the turkey until the amount of water in the brine and the meat are equal. The salt and other stuff enter the turkey’s cells, since salt loosens the structure of the protein. The protein then rebinds, trapping even more liquid and therefore making your turkey juicier. Sugar is added to balance the saltiness; herbs and spices give flavor. And wine, as always, just makes it all more awesome.
But what wine to use? Martha goes Riesling, as many people do, which is a typical and great choice for it. Riesling is really aromatic and apparently the aromas of the wine get into the turkey. But Martha specifies a dry Riesling, and since we now know that any sugar in the brine mixture balances the salt, why not just pick a sweet Riesling and just get your sugar in that way? In my opinion, those are the sickest Rieslings anyway. Go Mosel.
You can go crazy with the Rieslings, but if you’re just using it for brine any decent “kabinett” (lower level of quality) will do. Some other good choices are Clean Slate ($12 here) or any of the cheaper Chateau Ste Michelle Rieslings (though my fave is their Eroica, $20 here). And for drinking, anything JJ Prüm is amazing.
If this brining thing ruins the turkey it’ll be pretty hilarious. I don’t eat that much turkey on Thanksgiving anyway. Why waste stomach space when there are so many yummy sides? It’s just smart stomach management.
PS I just realized we make our sweet potatoes with sherry (and a ton of butter). It’s gonna be a very grapefriendy meal!