Thanksgiving dinner is a grazer’s dream but a challenge in terms of figuring out what wine to serve. Plus, from Mom’s marshmallow topped sweet potatoes, to Grandma’s stuffing to Dad’s turkey it’s loaded with tradition. If you’re tasked with bringing the wine, these factors can make it somewhat intimidating.
The right Thanksgiving wines will work well with a wide array of flavors and textures but won’t overwhelm the dishes. It also pays to seek out wines that aren’t too tannic or too high in alcohol. The wine selection can become a tradition as well. Bring the next vintage of the same wines each year. If you make it a tradition, it has to be consistently well-made wine to which everyone welcomes. Most importantly, Thanksgiving is a celebration, a time for fun and bringing people together – so have fun with your wine choices, but plan what you want to bring so you’re not scrambling last minute at the wine shop. I won’t tell you how many bottles my family went through last year for fear of cautionary letters of concern, but suffice it to say, I’m glad we planned ahead.
I sincerely hope the days of poorly misunderstood Riesling’s bad rap are over. The high acidity is perfect for cutting through an item’s richness while the light body doesn’t overwhelm the dish. A slightly off-dry version makes it nearly universally pleasing. If you haven’t added a quality Riesling to your must-haves list, I implore you try it.
Dr. Konstantin Frank, Riesling Semi-Dry, 2008, Finger Lakes, NY ($15)
Another favorite go-to wine for Thanksgiving is Pinot Noir, again for its amenable style. Save medium-bodied, elegant versions for the dinner table and drink heavier, fruit-forward types as an aperitif.
-MacMurray Ranch, Pinot Noir, 2007,
-Girasole Vineyards, Pinot Noir, 2008,
The Classic red wine to have with Thanksgiving Dinner is a Zinfandel. Although potentially Croatian by origin, Zinfandel has become a distinctly American grape appropriate for this quintessential American holiday. This is a rich, zesty, peppery red wine, not to be confused with White Zinfandel. Make sure the wine isn’t too high in alcohol, which is often the case with Zins from
Rancho Zabaco, Reserve Zinfandel, 2007, Dry Creek Valley, CA ($24)
Ridge, Pagani Ranch Zinfandel, 2007, Sonoma Valley, CA ($30)
While not inexpensive, a Cabernet Sauvignon with a few years of age (if not more) can be a wonderful wine to add as a holiday tradition. Its tannins have somewhat mellowed out while the rich flavors and structure still shine. These are “special occasion” wines that truly celebrate the generosity of the holiday.
Louis M. Martini, Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005, Sonoma Valley, CA ($85)
Robert Keenan, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004,