IMBIBE: Thanksgiving Wine Guide

By on November 15, 2016

Ten wines for the Turkey Day table.

161116imbibe_origJACKSON HOLE, WY – My favorite food day of the year is Thanksgiving, for all the obvious reasons. But food aside, one of the reasons I’m so fond of Turkey Day is that it provides the perfect opportunity for tasting wine. With so many complimentary and contrasting food flavors—cranberries, dark turkey meat, salty stuffing, buttery mashed spuds, savory-sweet pumpkin pie, etc.—the Thanksgiving meal is a good place to try out an array of different wines with different foods and courses.

I usually like to treat Thanksgiving guests to cheesy little French gougeres to snack on prior to the big meal. Sparkling wine is a terrific accompaniment to the cheese puffs, but also a very versatile libation that could carry through the entire Thanksgiving meal, thanks in part to its relatively low alcohol content. I’m particularly fond of pinot noir-rich rosé bubbly on this celebratory day. A good, inexpensive choice is Bisol Jeio Cuvée Rosé Spumante Brut ($15) from Veneto, Italy, with lychee and citrus notes. For a domestic sparkling rosé, it’s hard to beat Domaine Chandon Etoile Rosé ($31.99), a gorgeous, but restrained wine that is a perfect partner for foie gras and pâté. Or, you could really kick out the jams with a bottle of Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2008 ($69.99), with its beautiful floral and botanical notes.

Bubbles aside, I think rosé wines in general are excellent choices for Thanksgiving dinner. They’re extremely versatile and fairly low in alcohol, so you can enjoy them throughout a lengthy holiday meal. The syrah in Frescobaldi Toscana Alìe Ammiraglia Rosé 2015 ($18) makes it a smart choice to sip with turkey, and the same can be said for the syrah/grenache/cinsault blend in Cuvée M de Minuty Rosé 2015 ($20) from the Côtes de Provençe.

Italian red wine might not be traditional at Thanksgiving time, but I like the combination of versatility and value that some Italian reds offer. One such wine is Avignonesi Rosso di Montepulciano DOC 2014 ($16.10). It was a weird year in Tuscany in 2014, vintage-wise, but it favored younger, fruity wines like this easy-drinking one. Red currant and white pepper notes should pair nicely with foods ranging from cranberry sauce to light and dark turkey meat. Another attention-getting Italian wine for your holiday table is Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2012 ($22.95). It might not seem like the 15 percent sagrantino grape—sometimes called the “jewel” of Umbria—would make much difference, but its abundant tannins balanced with sweet, dark fruit makes this a memorable Italian red that’s well-suited for special occasions.

From France, I’d turn to E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage 2013 Rouge ($28.99) on Thanksgiving. Again, syrah here provides a good partnership for roasted turkey and rich stuffing and gravy. Plus, it’s just damned tasty to drink—at Thanksgiving or any other time. It’s also plenty big enough to drink with prime rib, ribeye roasts, game or other meats that might make their way to your holiday table.

If you’re looking for a great American wine to drink on the all-American Thanksgiving holiday, I’d suggest Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013 ($42.99). Although it’s made in Sonoma, this pinot noir is definitely made in the French red burgundy style. It’ll be beautiful with herb-roasted turkey, as well as any salmon or mushroom dishes.

For a good white wine on Turkey Day, I’d turn to Landmark Vineyards Overlook Chardonnay 2014 ($27.49). This is Landmark’s meat and potatoes wine—the backbone of the winery—but not one you’d want to drink with meat and potatoes. You will want to drink it with roasted turkey and mashed potatoes, however. It’s certain to be a hit at your Thanksgiving celebration. PJH

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