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Superstar Thanksgiving Wines

Superstar Thanksgiving Wines


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Turkey is the obvious superstar of Thanksgiving, and every November, food magazines silently compete for the grandest turkey picture.

Sadly, the talented and more impressive actors, like the chestnut stuffing or orange-glazed sweet potatoes, are pushed to the side, overpowered by a fat turkey leg or decorative table shrubbery with free-flowing ribbon. And somewhere in this 'perfect' photograph, between the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and table wreath, is a glass of wine.

Yes, Thanksgiving is when the diets stop and it's cool to plump-up stuffing with foie gras and sausage, fight for the dark meat and smother it with mom’s gravy, or eat homemade pies while watching football. But it's not just a family tradition, it's also a gastronomic celebration—a blowout—fit for drinking champagne, uncorking a decade-old anniversary bottle of wine, or trading memories with a close friend in the comfort of an old Rioja.

Here are a few recommendations for making your Thanksgiving a blowout and making wine one of the superstars...

Wine: Champagne, Cuvée Prestige

Grape: 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir

Producer: Paul Déthune

Location: Ambonnay, Champagne, France

Year: NV

Thanksgiving Character: Freshly Baked Bread, Toasted Almonds

Wine: Saint-Aubin, La Chatenière

Grape: Chardonnay

Producer: Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey

Location: Côte de Beaune, Burgundy, France

Year: 2007

Thanksgiving Character: Hazelnuts, Lemon Curd

Wine: Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Chaumes

Grape: Chardonnay

Producer: Jean-Marc Pillot

Location: Côte de Beaune, Burgundy, France

Year: 2006

Thanksgiving Character: Roasted Chestnuts, Nutmeg, Melting Butter

Wine: Rioja Reserva, Viña Ardanza

Grape: Tempranillo and Garnacha

Producer: La Rioja Alta

Location: Rioja Alta, Rioja, Spain

Year: 2000

Thanksgiving Character: Dried Cranberries, Rosemary, Smoky Cigars

Wine: Saint-Joseph

Grape: Syrah

Producer: Nicolas Perrin (Nicolas Jaboulet, Perrin Frères)

Location: Northern Rhône, France

Year: 2007

Thanksgiving Character: Blackberry, Fennel Seed, Sausage

For more turkey talk, visit The Daily Meal's Guide to Thanksgiving!


15 Best Wines to Serve at Your Thanksgiving Table This Year

It’s likely the most commonly-asked question surrounding Thanksgiving dinner: What wines do I pair with the meal? There is no definitive answer, as questions such as these are very personal in nature. However, it doesn’t mean that we can’t try to provide some guidance.


Sparkling Wine

We strongly believe that Thanksgiving dinner starts with sparkling wine. In our family, we have those who prefer to stick with sparkling throughout the entire meal, so it’s always important to have at least a couple of bottles. If budget is a concern, we suggest trying a gentler-fizz Crémant from France instead of Champagne, which is made exclusively within France’s Champagne region. Crémant tends to be better-priced and compares favorably with more expensive domestic sparklings. Crémant is made from many different varietals across France, unlike Champagne where only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier may be used. In the Loire, for instance, you will find Crémant made from Chenin Blanc, the traditional white varietal of that region.

If you want to be on the cutting edge and have a slightly increased budget, then Grower Champagnes are definitely the way to go. In recent years, the phenomenon of Grower Champagne has really burst onto the scene. Historically, in Champagne, those who grew the grapes would sell their harvest to the large co-ops, like Veuve or Möet, who would blend together all of the various producers’ fruit to create a house ‘style’. More recently, those same growers have begun to make their own labels which are often equally, if not more, impressive as those from the great Champagne houses.

To cover a broader range of bubbly tastes, we recommend pouring both a Rosé and a Brut or a Blanc de blanc. This way, you’re covered for guests who prefer their bubbles to be pink with more red fruit and tartness. We selected a Rosé and a Brut from two small growers in Champagne that are short on quantity, but huge on quality, and at an attractive price.

Our sparkling picks:

White Wines

White wines can be a tricky pairing. Most experts would agree that the best pairing for the variety of textures and flavors to complement a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is Riesling. Most Americans associate Riesling with a sweet, white wine, and while those certainly exist, the majority of the worlds’ Riesling is dry, and will finish without any sweetness. What make Riesling a great match for turkey dinner is its acid (that’s what really makes most wines pair well with food). Riesling tends to have higher acid levels and lower alcohol then say a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay. The acid and balance of a Riesling tend to complement the diversity of the flavors of Thanksgiving dinner.

Although we have said for years that Riesling will be the next great white varietal, Chardonnay is still king. Chardonnay is America’s favorite white wine and it has been for years. For Thanksgiving dinner, however, we recommend staying away from those big oaky, buttery Chards from Napa and focus on cooler climate Chards with more… Acid! (starting to see a theme?). To us, the essential Chard pairing for the feast is Chablis, and not the kind that Gallo made famous. We’re talking about the real stuff made in the Burgundian appellation of Chablis. It’s 100% Chardonnay, but if you’re a big oak California Chard drinker, you may not recognize it. Chablis has amazing calcareous soils full of mineral that give it a very pleasing and flinty fruit palate.

But wait you say, Thanksgiving is an American holiday! Quit pushing these French wines on us. Indeed, there are many out-of-this-world Chardonnays from up and down the west coast of the US. We tend to prefer cooler-climate Chards (Oregon, Sonoma Coast, Carneros or Central coast) which are going to be a better match with the meal because of their balance and the acidity. We are particularly fond of the Double Gold-winning Kapara Cellars Sangiacamo vineyard Chardonnay. We like it for a few reasons. It’s very well balanced and will pair nicely with the food. It hails from Carneros, just off of the San Pablo Bay in Northern California, where the cooler climate lends itself to that balance. We’re happy to call the Sangiacomo family friends who grow absolutely stellar Chardonnay.

Other varietals to consider on Turkey Day are Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier (vee-ohn-yeah). Viognier is an aromatic white wine known much more for its floral nose than the intensity of its palate. It can sometimes be flabby and isn’t always high in acid, but the nose really helps intensify the smells of the feast, and for our money, that’s a good deal of the delight on Thanksgiving. From the plethora of Sauvignon Blanc styles available, we would recommend a Sancerre from the Loire region of France. For our money, it’s the best Sauv Blanc out there, and its biting acidity makes it an outstanding match with Thanksgiving.

If you’re looking to make a statement, consider bringing a magnum. Twice the wine and a very impressive way to make an entrance!

Red Wines

And then there were reds. The most oft-cited pairing for Thanksgiving meal by wine snobs is Gamay and particularly Cru Beaujolais which is 100% Gamay from the Beaujolais region of France. Gamay has a very nice acid profile, and generally a lighter wine than traditional Bordeaux varietals, and shows a lot of diverse flavors on the palate which makes it an incredibly diverse match for food.

However, if you’re looking for domestic pairings to suit your palate, we recommend the all-American grape, Zinfandel, with an ode to Pinot Noir. We love a good Zinfandel for this American holiday because it is generally considered to be the American varietal (though it is actually the same as Primitivo from Italy). We opt for a Zin from Russian River rather than Dry Creek Valley because it has a bit more balance and finesse than its next door neighbor, which, in Dry Creek Valley, produces more muscular and brooding zinfandels.

At Thanksgiving, you just can’t miss with Pinot Noir. A red Burgundy would be our choice, but once again paying tribute to this American holiday, we go back to the Sangiacamo Vineyard and choose the Kapara Cellars Pinot. This all-around winner has nice balance and adequate acidity to balance out the cornucopia of flavors you will taste at your table.

If you insist on having a Cabernet Sauvignon (the king of grapes) with dinner, then you can go a couple of different ways. Try something a touch lower in alcohol with good balance. We love the Chalk Hill appellation for providing just that. It’s over the Mountains from Napa, but being in Sonoma, it will benefit from the cooling influence from being closer to the ocean. However, if your heart is set on Napa, try something with a bit of bottle age. It will have mellowed out a bit and the time will do wonders for mellowing out the tannins and softening the edges, which is important to not overpower what’s on the plate.

Other reds to consider include Dolcetto from Peimonte (home of Barolo) and Syrah. If you’re in Peimonte and sit down for a meal with an old-timer, they will always reach for the Dolcetto over the Nebbiolo-based Barolo, which is far more expensive. Dolcetto doesn’t get as widely distributed in the US as it should, but it’s a really great food wine and worthy of consideration.

Syrah is another good option. Somewhat like Sauvignon Blanc, it can be a bit of a chameleon from region to region and winemaker to winemaker. Our preference is Syrah from the Northern region of France. It’s a bit big and can be over powering, but with a couple years of bottle age, it can soften. The same applies for domestic Syrah. Look for something from a cooler appellation or a bottle with a bit of age on it.

No matter what your wine selections, the most important thing is to enjoy time spent with your family and to drink wine that you love. Happy Thanksgiving.

Related Video: Wine Decanters Explained

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Thanksgiving Wine Tips

Note from P-Dub: While I haven&rsquot had a chance to photograph the process yet, here&rsquos the recipe for my Homemade Turkey Brine in case you need the ingredient list. For now, here&rsquos Pastor Ryan, who brings us some Wine Wisdom for Thanksgiving. Take it, Ryan!

So you&rsquore hosting a Thanksgiving feast at your home, and you&rsquore wondering what the adult beverage field should look like. The obvious choice for a holiday such as this would be wine. Vino. Fruit of the vine.

But you&rsquore not sure what to get, right? Wine is intimidating, right? Well, don&rsquot fret. We&rsquove all been there. You want to offer something nice&hellipyou know&mdashsomething sophisticated. But you&rsquore on a budget just like the rest of us, and you don&rsquot know what everyone likes. You just want everyone to enjoy themselves. So what do you do?

Well I&rsquoll tell ya. But first, we&rsquove got to get something very clear:

I AM NOT A WINE PRO. I have no degree in wine snobbery and I&rsquom not going to act like I know what I&rsquom talking about. I&rsquove got some experienced tips that I think might help you out this holiday season and I&rsquod love to share them with you&mdashthat&rsquos all. Enter at your own risk.

1 // Buy Local &ndash Yes, you will spend $1-$2 more for each bottle of wine you purchase. However, by going to a local wine shop (if you&rsquove got one, that is don&rsquot worry if not) you will be able to ask questions and get advice on what wines to buy during this season. Your local wine shop will be able to tell you what will work for the crowd you have and they&rsquoll be quick to sell you something that&rsquos high-quality for your price range. Supermarkets have nothing on the local yokels.

2 // Realize that wine is like salsa &ndash This may sound a little goofy, but most people like to act as if they enjoy their salsa a lot spicier than they really do. The same goes for wines &ndash people want you to think they like the big, full-bodied wines, but in truth&hellipmost tend to lean towards the wimpier varieties.

3 // Go higher, then lower &ndash I buy a variety of wines in different price ranges. If I grab some wines in a medium price range &ndash say $15 per bottle, I&rsquoll pick up some less expensive wines for later in the evening. After 2 glasses of wine, most people never notice when you&rsquove switched them over to a $6 bottle. Save some cash&hellipthere&rsquos no need to spend just for the sake of spending.

4 // Buy several of the same type &ndash You don&rsquot want to buy one bottle of something and run out just as people realize that they like it. Grab a few of the same bottle to keep the peace&hellipyou might just get through Uncle Bob&rsquos comedy routine with this one.

5 // Riesling and Pinot Noir &ndash These are very safe wine varieties to go with if you aren&rsquot familiar with the different wines or if you&rsquore not sure what you&rsquore crowd will want. Riesling is one of the easiest drinking white wines and it goes with pretty much everything. The same goes for Pinot Noir&hellipthis is a great red wine to please the masses. Oh, and you know that whole &ldquowhite wine with light meats&rdquo & &ldquored wines with dark meats&rdquo rule? Go ahead and reject that. Drink the wine you enjoy&mdashdon&rsquot conform to what the world says you have to like.

6 // Don&rsquot fear the screw cap &ndash For many years people have considered wines with corks to be far superior to the wines with screw caps. There&rsquos just one problem there are $2 bottles of corked wine out there that taste rotten and $20 bottles of screw cap wine that are wonderful. If you&rsquore not looking to keep a bottle of expensive wine in a temperature-controlled environment for years and years, a screw cap bottle of wine is just fine. And it&rsquos easier to open.

7 // 20 for whites and 60 for reds &ndash There are many debates out there as to what temperature your wine should be served at. Many will say that a red wine should be served at &ldquoroom temperature&rdquo, but in my experience 71 degrees just doesn&rsquot taste good. An easy way to get your wines to the right temperature is to chill them in the refrigerator until they are nice and cold. Remove white wines for about 20 minutes or so before serving and they&rsquoll be just right. Remove red wines for about 60 minutes or so and they&rsquoll be just right.

8 // Don&rsquot ice it down, grape it down &ndash Got some slow sippers on your hands or maybe you just want to take things to the next level of awesome? Drop some frozen grapes into the wine to keep it chilled. You would never want to put ice into the wine as it would water it down, but the grapes will do the trick and maintain the integrity of the wine. They taste great at the end of a glass as well.

9 // Go universal with the glass &ndash There is simply no need to buy all those different glasses that Williams-Sonoma is trying to convince you that you need. If you buy a decent set of glasses you&rsquoll be set&hellipas long as you&rsquore an amateur like me.

10 // 3 and a half &ndash The exact amount of poured glasses in a bottle of wine is pretty well impossible to define. Many standard wine servings suggest 4oz&hellipthis would equal 6 glasses of wine per bottle, but this is also a ridiculously small serving. In my experience with family and friends&hellip3 and a half &ldquoreal-world&rdquo glasses are poured from a normal 750ml bottle of wine. Keep this in mind when buying for the group.


Worry-Free Wine Presentation at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can bring out the worry. Happily, there's one area that doesn't require excessive concern, and that's wine presentation. Here are my stress-relieving tips:

Related To:

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No Perfect Pick: Despite what some wine snobs say, there is no go-to wine for Thanksgiving. Some guests will like white, some will dig red and others (like me) will require both, so always have a white and a red on the table.

Start Sparkly: The fact that Thanksgiving doesn’t involve streamers and noisemakers isn’t a reason to avoid bubbles. Prosecco, Cava, Champagne, American sparkling wine or any other sparkler will add an expansive, celebratory prelude to your feast.

Cool the Reds: Chilling your reds — especially if they are the low-tannin, moderate-weight types I like to recommend — will focus their flavors and make them more refreshing. And who wouldn’t want to keep things cool with the dining room overheated from all that cooking, gluttony and familial tension?

Never Run Out: If your Thanksgiving is anything like mine, there’s always a contingent of dieters and deniers that venture only a few sips throughout the night. Don’t let these killjoys influence your wine planning always have the equivalent of least a bottle per person ready to pour, as this is a holiday of plentitude, not a date with denial.

Go Big: Speaking of quantities, nothing beats serving some of your wine in large format bottles (e.g., magnums). Casual wines are increasingly available in large sizes, and nothing promotes welcome-to-the-feast conviviality like an XL bottle.

Think Inside the Box: On the subject of large containers, there’s no shame in using wine in a box. Not all boxed wine is created equal, however, so ask a good wine merchant to steer you to the best ones. And if a wine snob is coming to dinner, you have my blessing to hide the box in the kitchen and serve the wine in a fine crystal decanter.

Mark Oldman is a wine expert, acclaimed author and lead judge of the hit series The Winemakers.


Thanksgiving Recipes: Pistachios & Wine

Here we are at Thanksgiving time during a pandemic. A time when friends and families are supposed to come together, we are left pondering what exactly we are going to do this year. Many cities are attempting to regulate how many people are allowed at your Thanksgiving table and are encouraging you to stay within your household. Not really what most of us have in mind. What you decide to do, is completely up to you. We encourage you to have fun with it, whatever it is you elect to do, and try some new recipes.

American Pistachio Growers works with many amazing Chefs and mixologists to create recipes that incorporate pistachios. We are sharing some great Thanksgiving options with you and providing you with wine pairing suggestions.

Which wine do I pair with Turkey?

Let’s get the Turkey question out of the way…there is great debate…pair it with a crisp Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, though if you have access to Heart of the Desert wine and choose red, go with the Corazon Gitano. Our Chardonnay is a perfect accompaniment. Red or white? You decide!

Thanksgiving Appetizer Recipe:

ANTEBELLUM BENNE CRACKERS WITH PISTACHIO HUMMUS & COUNTRY HAM

This yummy hummus dish with homemade benne crackers was created by Chef Sean Brock, of the Neighborhood Dining Group (NDG), and Husk restaurants in Charleston and Nashville. Sean is a James Beard recipient and author of a cookbook entitled Heritage.

Wine Pairing: We’re going with a crisp Chardonnay or a Rosé with this one. A Pinot Grigio would also go nicely as it will enhance the garlic.

Side Dish:

ROASTED WHOLE BABY PUMPKINS

This beautiful and tasty display was created by Chef David Vartanian. Chef David owns the Vintage Press in Visalia, California. Vintage Press has received scores of accolades from the nation’s restaurant and wine aficionados and is credited for featuring one of the best restaurant wine lists in the world.

Wine Pairing: We’re definitely going with a Chardonnay with this one. It works with pumpkin, Jarlsberg cheese and chicken.

Dessert:

PISTACHIO PIE

This scrumptious pie was created by Chef Lauren Mitterer. Chef Lauren is a two-times James Beard nominated Pastry Chef. She currently owns her own pasty shop in Charleston called WildFlour. The pie is sweet, but not like a pecan pie, because there is no corn syrup in the recipe.

Wine Pairing: Try a nice Gewurztraminer with this one. A Moscato d ’Asti might be nice, too.

Final Thoughts:

Working with unshelled pistachio kernels is the easiest thing to use for cooking. You can pick them up in your local grocery store or head over to the Heart of the Desert website for New Mexico grown, farm-fresh pistachios. They make great Christmas presents and stocking stuffers, too.

After reading these recipes with their wine pairings, you’ll probably agree that Chardonnay is the big winner. A crisp, not over-oaked version will do you best. Check out Heart of the Desert’s Chardonnay for all of these pairings, you’ll be glad you did!

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with four retail establishments in New Mexico. They are best known for their farm fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines . Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings. They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts. The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcases how pistachios are grown and processed as well as a stunning Tuscany themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.


Thanksgiving Wine Pairings: Drink American

Thanksgiving: Ohh, sweet, delectable Turkey Day. I'm obsessed with this ultimate feast and the ever-swelling gathering of family and friends crammed into a too-tiny, hectic and utterly delicious-smelling kitchen. I adore the sight of hands everywhere eager to help prepare, stories being shared and everyone sitting down together to a veritable smorgasbord. And while this uniquely American holiday's history has given us a fairly good idea of what to eat, the question of what to drink is perhaps not so easily answered.

To start, let's get one thing out of the way: There's not a "right" or a "wrong" wine to slug with your stuffing — but there are wines that just might be more likely send you to sensory elation. So, where to start?

One of the most relied-upon "rules" of wine and food pairing is "If it grows together, it goes together." The idea is that wines and foods naturally evolved together as a whole regional cuisine. For example, you'd be more likely to find lots of fresh, crisp whites in a warmer-climate area adjacent to the sea than you'd be to find huge, dark, spicy reds (the former wines pair better with seafood than the latter). The concept isn't as easy to apply in modern-day America, but you can still relish the uniquely American spirit of Thanksgiving by drinking American wines. And my, oh my, do we have some good ones to choose from!

If it's a red you're after, I'd bet most heavily on a Pinot Noir. Lighter in body and softer on the palate than something like a Cabernet or a Merlot, California Pinot Noir's plush, easy berry fruit is just the right match for poultry and all your T-Day fixins. Pinot Noir from Oregon is also stellar — I find it has a touch more earthiness and a little less forward, juicy fruit than its sisters further south.

For whites, a fuller-bodied wine will stand up nicely to the rich dishes on your dining room table. A great California Chardonnay with a bit of toasty oak in it definitely fits the bill with its round mouthfeel and slight creaminess, which just begs for some buttery mashed potatoes and gravy. If you’re not a die-hard fan and usually dislike Chardonnay, ask your wine merchant for one that's un-oaked, which will allow more bright, appley and citrusy fruit to shine through while the grape's full body will still satisfy.

Alternatively, a wonderfully aromatic, lighter-bodied white with pronounced notes of fruit and flowers can act as an excellent contrast to the many savory, substantial foods of Thanksgiving. Washington state produces some excellent Rieslings (both dry and sweet, though I'd vote for dry and save sweet for pairing with pie), and the grape's naturally high acidity cuts nicely through the richness of the food. Gewurztraminer is another favorite: Highly aromatic with a touch of warm spice, the best ones are coming out of cooler-weather areas like Washington and Oregon. On the East Coast, look for any of the aforementioned grapes coming out of the Finger Lakes region of New York.

In the end, Thanksgiving is about celebrating our blessings. So whatever beverage ends up on your table, raise your glass and toast to the good things!


The Most Versatile Thanksgiving Wine

Thanksgiving menus often begin with appetizers and move to turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, herb-filled stuffing, cranberry relish, and pumpkin or pecan pie. Is there a single wine that can take you seamlessly from start to finish?

Sparkling wine and Champagne can be the one-stop wine wonder you're seeking. These are increasingly popular pairing partners, and not just for the holidays. Sparkling wines bring both elegance and phenomenal food-pairing versatility to virtually any meal. They shine at the Thanksgiving dinner table because they typically carry a decent dose of acidity while adding a festive flair to the table.

Regional sparkling wine finds are completely capable of handling assorted appetizers. They're lovely with fried or salty fare, and make a good match with turkey and dressing as well. The crisp effervescence manages to cut seamlessly through the rich layers found in many daring desserts, too.


Best Dessert (Fortified): Alvear Solera Cream

Hints of toffee, nuts, figs, and raisins with a salty and smooth finish, the Alvear solera has a velvety yet layered texture. It's sort of like a dessert you can sip to satisfy your sweet craving until you are up to the task of getting back to the pie, or pies as the case may be. Made in the Oloroso style with PX for fortification and sweetness, this nuanced sherry from the Andalucía region is a great sipping wine for the sherry lover. With its deep notes of caramel and nuts, it also makes a great companion to desserts.


15 Best Wines to Serve at Your Thanksgiving Table This Year

It’s likely the most commonly-asked question surrounding Thanksgiving dinner: What wines do I pair with the meal? There is no definitive answer, as questions such as these are very personal in nature. However, it doesn’t mean that we can’t try to provide some guidance.


Sparkling Wine

We strongly believe that Thanksgiving dinner starts with sparkling wine. In our family, we have those who prefer to stick with sparkling throughout the entire meal, so it’s always important to have at least a couple of bottles. If budget is a concern, we suggest trying a gentler-fizz Crémant from France instead of Champagne, which is made exclusively within France’s Champagne region. Crémant tends to be better-priced and compares favorably with more expensive domestic sparklings. Crémant is made from many different varietals across France, unlike Champagne where only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier may be used. In the Loire, for instance, you will find Crémant made from Chenin Blanc, the traditional white varietal of that region.

If you want to be on the cutting edge and have a slightly increased budget, then Grower Champagnes are definitely the way to go. In recent years, the phenomenon of Grower Champagne has really burst onto the scene. Historically, in Champagne, those who grew the grapes would sell their harvest to the large co-ops, like Veuve or Möet, who would blend together all of the various producers’ fruit to create a house ‘style’. More recently, those same growers have begun to make their own labels which are often equally, if not more, impressive as those from the great Champagne houses.

To cover a broader range of bubbly tastes, we recommend pouring both a Rosé and a Brut or a Blanc de blanc. This way, you’re covered for guests who prefer their bubbles to be pink with more red fruit and tartness. We selected a Rosé and a Brut from two small growers in Champagne that are short on quantity, but huge on quality, and at an attractive price.

Our sparkling picks:

White Wines

White wines can be a tricky pairing. Most experts would agree that the best pairing for the variety of textures and flavors to complement a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is Riesling. Most Americans associate Riesling with a sweet, white wine, and while those certainly exist, the majority of the worlds’ Riesling is dry, and will finish without any sweetness. What make Riesling a great match for turkey dinner is its acid (that’s what really makes most wines pair well with food). Riesling tends to have higher acid levels and lower alcohol then say a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay. The acid and balance of a Riesling tend to complement the diversity of the flavors of Thanksgiving dinner.

Although we have said for years that Riesling will be the next great white varietal, Chardonnay is still king. Chardonnay is America’s favorite white wine and it has been for years. For Thanksgiving dinner, however, we recommend staying away from those big oaky, buttery Chards from Napa and focus on cooler climate Chards with more… Acid! (starting to see a theme?). To us, the essential Chard pairing for the feast is Chablis, and not the kind that Gallo made famous. We’re talking about the real stuff made in the Burgundian appellation of Chablis. It’s 100% Chardonnay, but if you’re a big oak California Chard drinker, you may not recognize it. Chablis has amazing calcareous soils full of mineral that give it a very pleasing and flinty fruit palate.

But wait you say, Thanksgiving is an American holiday! Quit pushing these French wines on us. Indeed, there are many out-of-this-world Chardonnays from up and down the west coast of the US. We tend to prefer cooler-climate Chards (Oregon, Sonoma Coast, Carneros or Central coast) which are going to be a better match with the meal because of their balance and the acidity. We are particularly fond of the Double Gold-winning Kapara Cellars Sangiacamo vineyard Chardonnay. We like it for a few reasons. It’s very well balanced and will pair nicely with the food. It hails from Carneros, just off of the San Pablo Bay in Northern California, where the cooler climate lends itself to that balance. We’re happy to call the Sangiacomo family friends who grow absolutely stellar Chardonnay.

Other varietals to consider on Turkey Day are Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier (vee-ohn-yeah). Viognier is an aromatic white wine known much more for its floral nose than the intensity of its palate. It can sometimes be flabby and isn’t always high in acid, but the nose really helps intensify the smells of the feast, and for our money, that’s a good deal of the delight on Thanksgiving. From the plethora of Sauvignon Blanc styles available, we would recommend a Sancerre from the Loire region of France. For our money, it’s the best Sauv Blanc out there, and its biting acidity makes it an outstanding match with Thanksgiving.

If you’re looking to make a statement, consider bringing a magnum. Twice the wine and a very impressive way to make an entrance!

Red Wines

And then there were reds. The most oft-cited pairing for Thanksgiving meal by wine snobs is Gamay and particularly Cru Beaujolais which is 100% Gamay from the Beaujolais region of France. Gamay has a very nice acid profile, and generally a lighter wine than traditional Bordeaux varietals, and shows a lot of diverse flavors on the palate which makes it an incredibly diverse match for food.

However, if you’re looking for domestic pairings to suit your palate, we recommend the all-American grape, Zinfandel, with an ode to Pinot Noir. We love a good Zinfandel for this American holiday because it is generally considered to be the American varietal (though it is actually the same as Primitivo from Italy). We opt for a Zin from Russian River rather than Dry Creek Valley because it has a bit more balance and finesse than its next door neighbor, which, in Dry Creek Valley, produces more muscular and brooding zinfandels.

At Thanksgiving, you just can’t miss with Pinot Noir. A red Burgundy would be our choice, but once again paying tribute to this American holiday, we go back to the Sangiacamo Vineyard and choose the Kapara Cellars Pinot. This all-around winner has nice balance and adequate acidity to balance out the cornucopia of flavors you will taste at your table.

If you insist on having a Cabernet Sauvignon (the king of grapes) with dinner, then you can go a couple of different ways. Try something a touch lower in alcohol with good balance. We love the Chalk Hill appellation for providing just that. It’s over the Mountains from Napa, but being in Sonoma, it will benefit from the cooling influence from being closer to the ocean. However, if your heart is set on Napa, try something with a bit of bottle age. It will have mellowed out a bit and the time will do wonders for mellowing out the tannins and softening the edges, which is important to not overpower what’s on the plate.

Other reds to consider include Dolcetto from Peimonte (home of Barolo) and Syrah. If you’re in Peimonte and sit down for a meal with an old-timer, they will always reach for the Dolcetto over the Nebbiolo-based Barolo, which is far more expensive. Dolcetto doesn’t get as widely distributed in the US as it should, but it’s a really great food wine and worthy of consideration.

Syrah is another good option. Somewhat like Sauvignon Blanc, it can be a bit of a chameleon from region to region and winemaker to winemaker. Our preference is Syrah from the Northern region of France. It’s a bit big and can be over powering, but with a couple years of bottle age, it can soften. The same applies for domestic Syrah. Look for something from a cooler appellation or a bottle with a bit of age on it.

No matter what your wine selections, the most important thing is to enjoy time spent with your family and to drink wine that you love. Happy Thanksgiving.

Related Video: Wine Decanters Explained

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The Best (Cheap!) Wines to Serve At Thanksgiving Dinner

Many of these bottles cost less than two venti lattes&mdashbut that doesn't mean they sacrifice flavor. Find the dish you want to highlight at the table to get the wine ones people will be raving about weeks after Turkey Day. even if you burn the bird.

Since most cheese plates include a blue cheese and at least one other sharp flavor, you need a crisp wine that can clear your palate between bites. This Emina Verdejo has just enough acidity to do that&mdashand ensure your close-talking great aunt doesn't have gorgonzola breath all afternoon.

The Wine: Emina Verdejo, $14

Where to Get It: Visit RiberaRuedaWine.com to find the liquor store nearest you.

Okay, so this isn't the sexiest bottle you could bust out to impress your relatives, but this Wine Cube is a serious deal&mdash$9 for 1 liter!&mdashand it has a whiff of spice and smokiness that livens up plain old white meat. Just fill up everyone's glasses in the kitchen, if you fear boxed-wine judgment that much.

The Wine: Wine Cube, Vintner's Red, $9

Where to Get It: Target

To those fiends at the table who fight over the turkey legs, this one's for you. A Grillo-based wine with intense, tropical notes is a refreshing contrast to dark meat, which (let's be honest) can be a little on the greasy side. Stemmari's Dalila features both Grillo and Viognier grapes, which balances out the bold Grillo. The brand's wine experts suggest pairing it with dark meat, aged cheeses and any seafood dishes you're serving that day.

The Wine: Stemmari Dalila, $10

Where to Get It: Use the wine locator at Stemmari.it to find the store nearest you.

If you're the type who mixes everything on your plate&mdashor goes HAM on cran every Thanksgiving, since it's the one day a year the berry gets its due&mdashgo for a merlot. It calms down the tartness of cranberry sauce (while bringing out fruity flavors, thanks to its complementary cherry and plum notes, Josh Cellars wine experts say), making it a Thanksgiving dinner table must-have.

The Wine: Josh Cellars merlot, $16

Where to Get It: Use the store locator at JoshCellars.com to find a shop near you.

A bold, rich red wine&mdashlike this cabernet blend&mdashcan hold its own against the sausage, sage and herb-y flavors of stuffing. The Charles & Charles variety also contains 13.9 percent alcohol, which means you'll be pleasantly buzzed even if the stuffing's more like mush. And you're seated next to that cousin who can be best described (in the most euphemistic terms) as completely insufferable.

The Wine: Charles & Charles 2015 Cabernet Blend, $14

Where to Get It: OneStopWineShop.com

Nobody will believe you snagged this bottle at Walmart&mdashor that it cost $10. The flavorful wine received 88 points by Wine Spectator, making it a glass of vino even your snobbiest friends will love. It's got a robust flavor and acidic finish, making it a good fit for any roasted vegetables (including pungent asparagus!) on the table.


Recommended Thanksgiving Wines

Hahn 2017 G-S-M (Central Coast) $15, 92 points. Freshly crushed blackberry, leafy herbs, charred meat and a hint of oak show on the nose of this value blend of 65% Grenache, 33% Syrah and 2% Mourvèdre. It’s fresh on the palate in a black currant flavor yet savory in smoked meat, all framed by bright acidity and layered tannins. Best Buy. –Matt Kettmann

A to Z 2018 Riesling (Oregon) $15, 91 points. Off dry in style, this pops out a tasty mix of orange, grapefruit and apple fruit, with acidity that suggests a dash of lemon tea. There are more highlights, unexpected in a wine at this price, bringing floral and honey notes on through a lingering finish. Best Buy. –Paul Gregutt

Beringer 2017 Founder’s Estate Pinot Noir (California) $10, 91 points. This medium- to full-bodied wine is one of the best values in Pinot today. It shows classic black and red-cherry aromas, a broad palate of dark fruits and light oak spices. Lifted acidity and moderate tannins complete the nicely composed picture. Best Buy. –Jim Gordon

CVNE 2016 Cune Crianza (Rioja) $14, 90 points. Berry, spice and tobacco aromas work in unison to give this Crianza a nice start. A firm palate avoids jamminess and shows grip. Dark plum, raspberry, spice and pepper flavors hold on through the finish. For everyday Rioja, there isn’t much better than this. Arano LLC. Best Buy. –Michael Schachner

Domaine Houchart 2018 Rosé (Côtes de Provence) $15, 90 points. Always an attractive wine, this release remains as reliable in this vintage. The classic blend is full and ripe, with a touch of caramel as well as raspberry flavors. Lightly textured and full of fruit, it is ready to drink. David Milligan Selections. Best Buy. –Roger Voss

La Posta 2017 Armando Bonarda (Mendoza) $15, 90 points. Grapy blackberry and black plum aromas come with oak spice on the side. While this is round in feel, the palate is packed with fruit flavors, blackberry and cassis in particular. Chocolate and toast notes grace a satisfying finish. Fans of Argentinean wines seeking something other than Malbec will be well served by this. Vine Connections. Best Buy. –M.S.

Willm 2017 Réserve Pinot Blanc (Alsace) $14, 90 points. Hints of lemon and green pear on the nose become fully fleshed and expressive on the dry, fresh palate. Bright lemon provides freshness and grip throughout. It’s a refreshing wine with a lively, brisk finish. Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd. Best Buy. –Anne Krebiehl, MW

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2017 Chardonnay (Columbia Valley) $11, 89 points. This wine’s aromas are pleasing, with notes of apple, cream and spice. Full-feeling yet nuanced fruit flavors follow. Spice notes linger on the finish. It displays a lovely sense of balance that kicks it up a notch. Best Buy. –Sean Sullivan

Hay Maker 2018 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) $12, 89 points. This is an attractive, perfumed Sauvignon with heaps of lime popsicle, peach blossoms and dried green herbs. The palate is both chalky and slippery in texture, nicely balanced by crunchy acidity, bright fruit and dried herbs. Accolade Wines. Best Buy. –Christina Pickard

Masseria Li Veli 2017 Orion Primitivo (Salento) $14, 89 points. Ripe cherry and blackberry aromas are lifted by orange and potpourri spices. Rounded in feel, the palate pops in bright, bouncy red-fruit flavors, with spicy tannins riding underneath. Accents of violet and graphite arise on the midpalate and extend through the finish. Dalla Terra Winery Direct. Best Buy. –Alexander Peartree

Concha y Toro 2017 Casillero del Diablo Reserva Carmenère (Central Valley) $12, 88 points. Aromas of blackberry and black cherry carry this easygoing Carmenère. Toasty black-fruit flavors offer a hint of smoke on the palate, with a balanced finish that ends clean. Fetzer Vineyards. Best Buy. –M.S.

DeMorgenzon 2018 DMZ Rosé (Stellenbosch) $12, 88 points. There’s a light bubblegum accent upfront, but it quickly subsides to reveal more central notes of watermelon rind and citrus zest. The palate is nicely balanced and harmonious, with ample acidity and bright red-berry flavors that have good staying power. The medium-length finish is bright and tasty, with a mouthwatering flourish of fresh citrus and tart strawberry flavor. Cape Classics. Best Buy. –Lauren Buzzeo


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