One of the most frequent wine questions I get this time of year is “What wine should I serve for Thanksgiving dinner?” It’s tough for people to choose a wine for Thanksgiving for a couple of reasons. One, people have different tastes in wine, so it’s hard to please everyone. Two, there are lots of different types of food on the table, so people get confused as to what they should serve.
A lot of people make the mistake of serving Chardonnay. It’s not one of my personal choices, and most wine sommeliers would agree. Mostly because like I said above, there’s so much on the table: herby gravy, tart cranberry sauce, savory dressing, and sweet potatoes (obviously sweet!) Even an oaky Chard can’t stand up to all those flavors.
So, what are my choices?
Pinot Noir is my #1 pick. One of the great things about Pinot Noir is that it makes almost anyone happy! Pinot Noir works well with turkey, which is pretty neutral to begin with. A good pinot is complex, which innately gives it an incredible range of food pairings; perfect for the bountiful Thanksgiving table.
Here are some reliable Pinot Noir Choices:
- Fullerton Five FACES Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR 2014 ($33):
Beautifully balanced and polished with effusive notes of raspberry, warm spices and earth. The wine is a blend of pinot noir from three different vineyards in the Willamette Valley, and the young Alex Fullerton is a winemaker to watch in Oregon.
- 2013 Melville “Estate” Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara, CA ~$30)
- 2014 R. Stuart & Co. “Love Oregon” Pinot Noir (Willamette, OR $28)
If you’re not a fan of the Pinot Noir price point, but would like a wine with similar qualities, I would recommend a Beaujolais. It’s made with 100% Gamay, but will give you way more bang-for-the-buck. It pairs very well with cranberries, roasted squash and salads, and balances the high sweetness factor of your sweet potatoes or yams and other sweet-leaning dishes on the table.
One note: 2016 was a tough year for Beaujolais, so don’t choose this year’s vintage.
Here are some reliable Beaujolais choices:
- 2015 Coudert “Cuvée Cristal” Fleurie (Cru Beaujolais ~$20)
- 2015 Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly (Cru Beaujolais ~$23)
- 2009 Savoye “Vieilles Vignes” Morgon Côte du Py (Cru Beaujolais ~$45 1.5L)
You just can’t go wrong with bubbly! Everyone loves it, it gives the day a festive flair, and it pairs well with just about anything. It’s a great choice for Thanksgiving!
Sparkling wines to try:
- Mirabelle Brut by Schramsberg, nonvintage(California; $19)
Schramsberg was one of the first sparkling-wine makers in California, and is still one of the best.
- Ferrari Brut NV Trentodoc ($24)
Awarded “World Champion Blanc de Blancs” and “Best Italian Sparkling Wine” at Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships. Dinner guests will love its decadent bursting bubbles, lemon-cream nose and polished structure.