A Guide to Selecting the Perfect Thanksgiving Wines
We’ve tapped the minds of our resident wine experts – Alex Augustine (Aba), Richard Hanauer (RPM Restaurants) 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 good body that aren’t overly fruity and an acidity isn’t too piercing. Richard recommends picking up a Rhône varietal from either France or California like Viognier, Roussanne, or Grenache Blanc.
Words to look for on the label: Châteauneuf–du–Pape, C
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
To pair with apple pie: If you’re having apple pie, Alex’s perfect match is Warre’s Port, 10 Year Old Otima Tawny from Portugal. With more age and oxidation than its more well known Ruby cousin, it’s filled with complex dried fruits (fig, orange), nuts, and baking spices. Light, delicate and elegant.
Words to look for: Tawny with an age statement
Gamay: 2019 Guy Breton “Cuvee Marylou” from Beaujolais in France
Muscat: 2018 Domaine Durban Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise Rhone Valley in France
Trousseau: 2020 Whitcraft Trousseau “Elle’s Vineyard”, Santa Barbara
Savagnin: 2018 Domaine Labet Fleurs de Savagnin En Chalasse Jura in France
Riesling: 2019 Forge Leidenfrost Riesling Finger Lakes New York
Thanksgiving dinner, all around: Low tannins and red fruits are the way to go like Gamay and Cabernet Franc – on his table Richard goes directly for Pinot 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: 2015 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 Blancfor 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 JANSZ, Brut Rosé Tasmania, Australia
Richard suggests to always drink Madeira at Thanksgiving. In particular Madeira, which boasts an inherent raisin flavor (known as Rancio) and aroma that pair wonderfully with the dried fruit desserts of the season. Fun Fact: Madeira was the primary wine of the time during many of the first official Thanksgiving celebrations.
From our family to yours, we want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving – may you enjoy great food, great wine and great company!