It’s Thanksgiving time again, a time when families get together to enjoy nature’s bounty and each others company, as well as put on a good 10-12 pounds after eating turkey 8 different ways for five days straight. Wine is always a staple at the table this time of year, but choosing them can be tricky. There are a lot of different types of food on the table at one time; sweet potatoes and savory stuffing, gamey dark turkey meat and glazed hams. Finding one or two wines that can work with everything means you may have to step away from your mainstays like an oaky Chardonnay or powerful Cabernet Sauvignons. You should by all means drink what you enjoy (it IS your mouth after all), but you can run into some unfavorable flavor combinations from wines with strong oak or heavy tannin flavors. The wines on the list will have small turkey pictures attached to their signs through the end of the holiday; our staff favorite 'Two Turkey Wines' will have a doubled up picture.
The wines we picked as our Thanksgiving wines are in a variety of price ranges and styles, and are listed in no particular order of preference, but follow certain guidelines for reds and whites:
WHITES: clean, crisp wines with minimal oak tend to go best with a variety of foods, and even a touch of sweetness goes a long way. Rieslings from all over the world in varying levels of dryness are great, as well as Chenin Blanc, Viognier, and Pinot Gris. Unoaked Chardonnay can be great as well, and Chablis (the real stuff from France) is especially good with oyster dressing.
REDS: softer, less tannic wines are ideal so as not to overpower the food. Beaujolais Nouveau may be a bit cliché, but actually does work quite well. To step it up a notch, go to Cru Beaujolais, made from the same Gamay grapes as Nouveau but in a drier style. Dry roses are also outstanding, providing red wine flavors without the heavy tannin. Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc are also good choices as long as they aren’t done in a heavy handed way. Rhone varieties can work as well for heartier meals as long as they aren't heavily oaked or overly boozy.
Don't feel like pouring over the list? Our Select Six collection was put together with Thanksgiving in mind. Or if you're following us on Facebook we will be posting several of these wine each day through Thanksgiving.
TWO TURKEY WINES: OUR TOP CHOICES!
2015 Early Mountain Petit Manseng-$25.99 This grape is originally from the southwestern part of France and is known for making fleshy, rich textured wines that run from fully dry to Sauternes-like dessert. Virginian wineries like Early Mountain are becoming increasingly adept with it as well. Off-dry, but loads of skin tannin texture to offset any overt sweetness. Lots of bright citrus and candied orange peel here to enjoy.
2015 Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes Cote de Brouilly 'Cuvee des Ambassades -$24.99 The 2015 vintage in Beaujolais is outstanding overall, especially if you enjoy the juicier, more red-fruited style thanks to a warm and ripe growing season. While there are no bad choices, this is especially noteworthy for the great quality for the price, truly among the top 1% of Cru Beaujolais.
2012 Albert Boxler Muscat d'Alsace-$29.99 One of the top names in Alsace, Boxler tends to make their wines in a very traditional style, meaning they tend to be drier than many expect. This Muscat is no different; the rich and flowery and zesty orange citrus aromas suggest the palate will be sweet, but the texture and vibrant acidity are actually quite clean and dry.
2015 Dirty & Rowdy Family 'Familiar' Mourvedre-$31.99 A unique new arrival in the store, one of the up and coming 'natural' wineries in California. Very savory, lots of earthy red fruit character, yet not nearly as thick as one would expect from a Rhone varietal wine, and very restrained on the alcohol. And the label will definitely be a topic of conversation!
2015 Ameztoi Getaraiko Txakolina Rose 'Rubentis'-$22.99 A Spanish Rose from the Bilbao/San Sebastian area, and one of the most food friendly Roses you will come across. Vibrant cherry skin and strawberry fruit with an almost minty and cooling herbal note, and lots of refreshing acidity and savory notes on the palate. This can stand up to bigger flavors than you would expect, so don't be shy with it.
NV Oudinot Brut Cuvee Rose-$39.99 Often Rose Champagne can be pricier than the equivalent regular bottle, but this is the rare instance where it's actually a great value. A bit deeper in color than many Rose Champagnes, and the red fruits come out more intensely, full of savory red berries and even a sense of light tannins on the palate. This is bubbly that can easily handle anything you throw at it during the meal, so don't just save it for appetizers.
ONE TURKEY WINES
2013 Domaine Labbe Pinot Noir Vin de Savoie- $17.99 A pretty, delicate, and lightly subtle Pinot for those that like Red Burgundy but don't like the prices.
2013 G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso-$15.99 A blend of the three major grapes in the Piedmont, plus a few unique ones like Freisa. Easily one of our most consistent and most popular Italian wines over the last several years.
2014 Emerson Vineyards Pinot Noir Willamette Valley-$21.99 A well balanced Oregon Pinot from a warmer than usual vintage, still shows it's earthier side.
2014 Guimaro/Pedro Rodriguez Mencia Ribiera Sacra-$19.99 A red from the cooler, more mountainous part of Spain. The weight and texture is more like a Cabernet Franc, and the style uses neutral oak to allow more of the natural red fruit to show through.
2015 Centonze Frappato Vittoria-$20.99 A unique grape native to Calabria and Sicily with a juicy, spicy red fruit character similar to Primitivo/Zinfandel, but much more polished and not as much alcohol. Someone adventurous will have a real treat on their hands this holiday.
2013 Tablas Creek 'Patelin de Tablas' Paso Robles-$21.99 This is the entry level bottling from one of the legendary Rhone style producers in Califoria. A blend of 4 varieties but primarily Syrah, this is about as rich as most would want to go for Thanksgiving, also helped by very little oak used.
2015 Lovingston Winery 'Rotunda Red'-$16.99 One of our favorite Virginia made values, words that are rarely used. Merlot based, this offers a lot of texture for the price, and their use of some Pinotage gives it a hint of savory complexity very few Virginia wines can offer.
2014 Andrew Murray Vineyards Syrah Central Coast 'Tous les Jours'- $18.99 Fleshy and dark fruited, almost on the verge of being too big, but well balanced by its acidity on the palate, and always made without strong oak or intense extraction. Still an outstanding value every year.
2015 Terres Dorees/Jean-Paul Brun Beaujolais "l'Ancien" Vieilles Vignes-$19.99 A Cru Beaujolais level of quality from an 'ordinary' site thanks to the meticulous care or the winemaker and the vine age. It's like finding a Chateauneuf-du-Pape level wine in a Cotes du Rhone!
2014 Lompoc Wine Co. Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills-$24.99 From noted sommelier Rajat Paar and his winemaking program, this is a very restrained style of Pinot for California, and was a big hit when we featured it as an Insider's Pick a few weeks back.
2015 Early Mountain 'Foothills' Red-$18.99 Soft textured and built for easy consumption, this is another one of the rare Virginia made values. Very juicy and approachable.
2013 Domaine de la Chanteleuserie Bourgueil 'Cuvee Beauvais'-$16.99 Along with Chinon, Bourgueil is one of the most noted regions in the Loire for Cabernet Franc. This is a very 'gulpable' style that doesn't try to be intensive or ornate, just approachable earthy red fruits and polished savory tannins, but enough weight to handle both the dark meat off the turkey and any beef that may be served.
2014 Meinklang Pinot Noir Burgenland-$16.99 Austria is another unusual but dependable source for quality Pinot Noir at very reasonable pricing, especially if you like a more Old World style. Very nice weight for the price point but not fruity or extracted, just polished, smooth and savory.
2014 Domaine de al Tour Bourgogne Blanc-$17.99 Though it isn't labeled as such, all the fruit for this comes from the area in and around Chablis, so it has that racy acidity clean fruit character with a hint of seashell-like salinity. A nice value that will pair up perfectly with Oyster dressing.
2015 Novellum Chardonnay-$12.99 Unique unoaked Chardonnay aged on the lees and skins of pressed Viognier grapes, which pulls out the perfume without looking the Chardonnay's natural acidity.
2014 Christophe Thorigny Vouvray Sec-$16.99 A pretty Chenin Blanc with brightness in the fruit, nice weight on the palate, and other than the honeyed notes on the nose no signs of sweetness. This can handle both savory dishes and the sweeter sides with ease.
2013 Corralitos Vineyard Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains-$16.99 A favorite unoaked Chardonnay built from high quality fruit in the cool Santa Cruz Mountains. Bright and clean with plenty of weight, just a hint of buttery malolactic fermentation, and loads of food friendly enjoyment for the price.
2013 Kuentz-Bas White Alsace-$16.99 A traditional Alsatian blend that's very clean in style with little if any residual sugar and pure white fruits across the spectrum. A great all-purpose option when you aren't sure what is being served because it can adjust to pretty much everything.
2014 Pollak Vineyards Pinot Gris-$24.99 Local wine made in the Alsatian style more so than the Italian, with a richer texture and more skin tannin that bring more body and intensity to the wine. Has enough flesh and fullness to even hold up to pork and red meats if they are on the table.
2014 A.A. Badenhorst Chenin Blanc 'Secateurs'-$15.99 South Africa is one of the few places where Chenin Blanc is as successful as the Loire. Rich melon and honeyed fruit without a sugary palate, lots of brightness on the finish to bring out some light citrus notes as well.
2013 Banyan Gewurztraminer Monterey County-$14.99 Many domestic Gewurztraminers play up the sweetness, but this drinks more like the Alsatian style, with cool acidity brightening up the palate. There is a touch of sweetness that goes along with the beautiful aromas, but nowhere near being cloying.
2015 Pazo Castrello Albarino Rias Baixas-$15.99 This fragrant grape from Western Spain/Northern Portugal has some of the flowery perfume that one could compare with a Viognier, but keeps a lighter more seashore tinged minerality. Pretty but also refreshing.
2015 Luigi Baudana Langhe Bianco 'Dragon'-$21.99 Unique blend of white grapes for the Piedmont, including Riesling and Chardonnay, but works beautifully. Completely dry, racy and intriguingly complex.
2015 Kermit Lynch Selections VDP Vaucluse Blanc-$13.99 A house blend created by one of the premiere importers in America. Even parts unoaked Chardonnay and Viognier captured the fragrance and body of both in a well priced wine that's so easy to splash around.
2013 Lawson's Dry Hills Gewurztraminer Marlborough-$17.99 With all the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, it's nice to see a different grape with this much character. Loads of perfume but vibrant and clean on the palate.
2015 Domaine de la Blaque Rose Pierrevert- $16.99 Provencal style Rose with the classic salmon pink color and racy strawberry/watermelon fruit. The Pierrevert region is further inland and cooler, which brings out an extra savory side, almost lightly meaty which will help it work with Thanksgiving fare.
NV Carra-Coviello Prosecco Brut Treviso-$17.99 Dry and refreshing white fruit aromas, but not aggressive or astringent on the palate, perfect for easy sipping or lighter foods.