Thanksgiving Day Wines – Easy as (Pumpkin) Pie!
As the Thanksgiving Day grocery store madness grows closer, who has time to worry about choosing wines for your Thanksgiving feast?! There is a plethora of different flavors and tastes on your Thanksgiving table and you want wines that will make everyone happy. Including your Wine Expert Uncle Pierre as well as teetotaler Gramma Betsy! There is a saying “Ain’t no thang but a chicken wing” or turkey wing in this case. We have a few recommendations that will pair well with everything on your traditional Thanksgiving table and keep everyone coming back for more. Write down a few of our favorites and it will be “Easy as Pumpkin Pie” when you get to your local store to shop! The Pilgrims and the Indians never had it THIS good!
Beaujolais Nouveau est une tradition sur Thanksgiving Day! Well, that may be true but some traditions can be broken and new traditions are started in the process. For years, we looked forward to our yearly supplement of Beaujolais Nouveau the Thursday before Thanksgiving Day. We would run to the store the first thing in the morning and buy a few bottles to sip on Thanksgiving with the family. But years later, our palates have changed somewhat and we are quaffing more interesting types of wines that also go with our Thanksgiving feast! There is nothing wrong with the Beaujolais Nouveau (that grape is called Gamay) and we think those wines have earned its place on the wine chart. Its just a bit too fruity for us nowadays and we like something with more structure, a little less fruit, more excitement and elegance! If you love Beaujolais Nouveau, that is great because it pleases most people especially those that are new to wine or like a much softer red wine. Some great Beaujolais to have at your table would be 2016 Georges Duboeuf Beajolais Nouveau Villages ($9.99 a bottle), Jadot Beaujolais Villages ($10.99 a bottle), Mommessin 2013 Domaine de la Presle Fleurie ($20 a bottle).
Pinot Noir is one excellent choice to help you celebrate the holiday! Pinot Noir is normally a lighter style red wine, like the Beaujolais, but with a little more tannin and structure. Its not bitter by all means. It has wonderful flavors of cherry, subtle earthy undertones, and a softer style finish because it is usually lower tannins with good acid. It pairs perfectly with turkey, stuffing, and all the sides! If you are just changing over to Pinot Noir from Beaujolais Nouveau, try an inexpensive California Pinot Noir. If you are a more experienced red wine drinker, get one from Oregon or Burgundy, France. These have a bit more tannin and earth but still retain a lighter style. We recommend the Michael Pozzan Annabella Pinot Noir from California ($14.99), Mark West California Pinot Noir ($12.99), Drouhin Bourgogne Rouge Laforet from France ($19.99), or Latour Gevrey-Chambertin from France ($44.99). And for those of you who are familiar with Virginia wines, Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir from Virginia would be a real treat at your Thanksgiving table at about $44 a bottle.
In the last 2 years, we have been drinking red Cotes Du Rhone wines on Thanksgiving and they have been pairing perfectly with holiday Turkey and stuffing! These red wines are made primarily from the Grenache grape and they add a bit of spice to the table. They are plush and polished, medium bodied, with a long, velvety finish. Flavors of red berry, earth, spice, and even some minerality can be found on these wines. We love the Jaboulet Paralléle 45 Rouge from France ($11.99), Balma Venitia Beaumes-de-Venise Terres du Trias Rhone France (14.99), or Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2012 (14.99)!
So you have a guest that doesn’t like red or white wines but you are determined to find them a wine that will make them happy this holiday. How about a nice, light Rosé wine with dinner. Rosés are served chilled and offer nice flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and a light, crisp finish. Rosés can be much more approachable than white wines because it is actually made from a red wine! It is just made in a softer style and the juice does not sit on the grape skins for long, if at all! It pairs well with light to medium cheeses and just about everything on your Thanksgiving table. We recommend the Francis Ford Coppola “Sofia” Pinot Noir Rosé ($11.99), Cline Ancient Vines Mourvédre Rosé ($10.99), Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Miraval Rosé from Provence, France ($21.99), M. Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone Rosé from France ($11.99), or Remy Pannier Cabernet Franc Rosé d’Anjou from Loire, France ($12.99) are all wonderful! For those Rosé lovers in Virginia, try the Pollak Vineyards Cabernet Franc Rosé ($20) or the Cunningham Creek Winery Cabernet Franc Rosé ($16)! Both have ripe strawberry, red berry, and a lively finish!
Sparkling wines and Prosecco’s are a fun treat at the holidays and always seems to add the fun to your gathering! They pair well with most appetizers and with much of your Thanksgiving meal. If you are having a big gathering and not sure which sparkling wine to get, buy one that says ‘Extra Dry’ on the label. This sparkler has more fruit and sweetness on the palate than the Brut which can be very dry on the finish. Extra Dry sparklers will please more of your guests when having a big group over. Try the Mionetto Extra Dry Prosecco from Italy ($18) or Coopers Hawk Sparkling Prosecco from California (19.99) with its soft bubbles and flavors of citrus, apple, and pear. Cupcake Prosecco from Italy ($12.99) is another sparkling that is fun, flavorful, and easy to find at your local store. If you are in Virginia and enjoy a drier style of bubbly, try Pippin Hill Sparkling Blanc de Blanc ($36)! It is a Brut style but has a creamy texture and flavors of lemon lime, pear, and a zesty finish. Plus the elegant bubbles will keep your guests smiling.
We have sipped and sampled lots of red wines but what about some good white wines for Thanksgiving? There are many white wines that will pair well with your roasted Turkey and all the sides! Rieslings can be bone dry to sweet and will pair well to most dishes that are spicy, salty, or sweet in flavor. The core of the Riesling flavors are apple, peach, apricot, and usually a hint of minerality. What makes Riesling special is its acidity which cuts through heavier foods like sweet potatoes, herb filled stuffing, roasted turkey, or any creamy side dish. If you like a sweet style Riesling, you may want to save that one til after dinner. A dry or semi dry normally pairs excellent with food! German Rieslings are juicier and lighter in alcohol and probably better for grandma so she doesn’t get tipsy or end up on the kitchen floor! Rieslings from Michigan, New York, and Washington State are absolutely wonderful with Thanksgiving dinner and have such great flavors! Try Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling ($11.99) or Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling ($13.99), both from Washington state, are great Rieslings at an affordable price. Two good German Rieslings would be Dr Loosen L Riesling ($10.99) or Moselland Black Cat Riesling ($9.99) with its off-dry style and flavors of citrus, peach, and a hint of spice! This is one “black cat” that brings good luck! A “must have” after dinner dessert Riesling is the Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling ($12.99) from Michigan and is the perfect digestive after a big Thanksgiving meal! Rich flavors of ripe peach, apricot, cantaloupe, and a blanket of soft citrus notes on the lush, creamy finish.
How about serving a wine that is as fun to say as it is to drink? This is definitely a flavorful, spicy Gewurtztraminer! (guh-VOORTS-truh-MEE-nur) Reminiscent of the Riesling except that Gewurtztraminer has intoxicating aroma’s of rose petals and spice! Gewurtztraminers can be very dry like those from Alsace or creamy with a hint of fruity sweetness. This is a grape that fancies the cooler climates so you will find Gewurtztraminer growing in Austria, Germany, Alsace, Michigan, New York, Washington State, and Canada. Its spicy nature will make it a solid wine to pair with turkey, potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and casseroles. Some of our favorites are Trimbach Gewurtztraminer from Alsace, France ($19.99), Geil Gewurtztraminer Kabinett from Germany ($14.99), Hogue Gewurtztraminer from Washington State (9.99), or Coopers Hawk Riesling Gewurtztraminer from California ($18.99). In Virginia, try Afton Mountain Vineyards Gewurtztraminer ($28) if you want a refreshing, spicy, tropical style. If you have access to upstate New York wines, we recommend the Damiani Sunrise Hill Vineyard Gewurtztraminer ($18.99) from the Finger Lakes. Exotic aromas of apricot, lychee, and rose petal with flavors of apricot and citrus with a drier style. Fantastic!
Honestly, there is no right or wrong to what wine you choose for your holiday meal. There really are no rules and you should drink what you like. This is just a basic (yet amazing!) resource for those who may not know what to try next since they have been stuck on Beaujolais Nouveau for years! You can have a big Cabernet Sauvignon with your Thanksgiving turkey but if you are having guests over, you should have something besides Cabernet to offer them. We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving 2016 and hope you enjoy it with your favorite loved ones, family, and friends! WineSplashing!!