A Guide to Selecting the Perfect Thanksgiving Wines
Fact: wine stores are intimidating. More truth: we’re here to help! We’ve tapped the minds of our resident wine experts – Nate Redner (Aba, Ema, Beatrix), Richard Hanauer (RPM Restaurants and Bar Ramone) and Kevin Bratt (Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab) – to talk you through selecting the perfect wine to pair with your Thanksgiving feast.
Wine fit for turkey: Look for wines that have a medium acidity and notes of fall orchard fruits like pears and apples like a Chenin Blanc – the texture and medium density stand up to turkey, while spiced notes are reminiscent of the season.
Words to look for on the label: Chenin Blanc, Loire Valley, Saumur, Vouvray, Sec (avoid anything labels with “Demi-Sec” and “Moelleux”)
Pairing wines with sides: Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without a spread of sides that showcase a range of different fall flavors. White wines with mineral and orchard fruit flavors and acidity that isn’t too piercing. Richard recommends picking up a Semillon from California’s Napa Valley or from France’s Bordeaux region.
Words to look for on the label: Semillon, Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan
To pair with Thanksgiving herbs: If rosemary, thyme and sage are making an appearance on your Thanksgiving table, Kevin suggests matching those with a nice dry or off-dry Riesling that complements those flavors. Look for Rieslings from the New York or Germany.
Words to look for on the label: Dry, Off-dry, Napa, Sonoma, Mosel, Germany, Finger Lakes
To pair with apple pie: If you’re having apple pie, Nate’s perfect match is Gewürztraminer from Alsace. Based on the character of the varietal, these wines are a great match for most holiday food where baking spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg) are present. Alsatian Gewürztraminer generally displays aromas of orange zest, honey, ginger and some tropical fruits. Also having moderate acidity helps these wines play nicely with desserts.
Words to look for: A vineyard designation, Grand Cru
Gewürztraminer: 2016 Albert Boxler Réserve Gewürztraminer from Alsace, France
Chenin Blanc: 2015 Guiberteau Saumur Blanc “Les Moulins” from the Loire Valley
Semillon: 2010 Château Carbonnieux from Pessac-Léognan
Pineau de Charentes: Jean-Luc Pasquet, Paul-Marie et Fils
Riesling: 2016 Hermann J. Wiemer, Finger Lakes, New York
2014 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler, Noble House Riesling from Mosel, Germany
Thanksgiving dinner, all around: Low tannins and red fruits are the way to go – Richard selects all things Pinor Noir, either from California or France’s Burgundy region, as the tannins work effortlessly with turkey while the light red fruit also complements cranberry sauce.
Words to look for on the label: Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits
For the dark meat: A full-bodied red with just the right amount of dark fruit and spice works well. Kevin goes for a wine named for the spirit of Thanksgiving, the Rendezvous red blend by RdV from Virginia.
Pinot Noir: Henri Boillot Volnay 2016
Zinfandel:2015 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley
Splurge-Worthy: 2014 RdV, Rendezvous red blend Delaplane, Virginia
Champagne and Sparkling, the preferred gift for your hostess, is basically the best pre- and post-dinner drink. Toast a glass with loved ones before digging into Thanksgiving dinner, and don’t forget that those bubbles really help settle the stomach after a heavy meal.
Kevin likes to start the meal off with a sparkling Blanc de Blanc for its crisp and refreshing qualities. For an after-dinner sip, opt for a Brut Nature which is lower in sugar and plays well with that full stomach.
Champagne: 1998 Drappier Brut Nature Champagne
Sparkling: NV Treveri, Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut from Washington
Richard suggests to always drink Madeira at Thanksgiving. In particular, the Rancio Madeira boasts an inherent raisin flavor (known as Rancio) and aroma that pair wonderfully with the fruit desserts of the holiday. Fun Fact: Madeira was also the primary wine served during Thanksgiving for the first centuries of the colonial U.S.
From our family to yours, we want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving – may you enjoy great food, great wine and great company!