~ A totally subjective (but well-reasoned) guide ~
Salt, fat, acid, sugar. Simple components that, when combined, become the framework for one of humankind’s most enduring celebrations - the feast. And with one of the year’s biggest feasts right around the corner, we thought we’d shed a little guiding light on the simple, yet targeted science of pairing food and wine. From zippy whites cutting through rich pieces of dark meat turkey, to earthy reds providing lift to herb-roasted vegetables, Thanksgiving provides the perfect opportunity to bring the traditional (think Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) and the non-traditional (shall we pop some bubbly?) together for a memorable gastronomical experience.
So, here’s our list, and a little something on why they should make your list too. Just remember – if your go-to wine is not listed here, get it anyway! The most important thing is to drink what you like, especially on Thanksgiving. Cheers!
View our entire Thanksgiving Collection HERE
Best Red Wines for Thanksgiving
Is there a perfect wine? A wine that could single-handedly wrangle a fat turkey leg and then move on to finesse those velvety, whipped sweet potatoes. The answer is yes, and that wine is Barolo. Barolo is a medium-bodied red made from the Nebbiolo grape of the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy, and is most recognizable by its intense red fruit aromas and distinct cherry and sweet tobacco flavors. Its fruit-forwardness, acidity, and solid tannic structure make it a versatile food wine capable of running the gamut of all your holiday fare.
View our entire Thanksgiving Barolo collection HERE
A little fruit and spice go a long way on Turkey Day. Zinfandel (or Primitivo in Italy) is the crowd-pleaser that will beckon the taste buds of even the most hesitant red wine drinker. This all-American grape (ok, it didn’t originate here, but it is grown more in America than anywhere else on earth) is truly Thanksgiving Day’s spirit animal. Bursting with peppery warmth and rich berry, plum and black cherry flavors, it instantly compliments traditional holiday spices, and is the perfect match for that most American of Thanksgiving dishes – macaroni and cheese! Don’t be shy with that cheddar and parmesan, the Zin can handle it.
Biale Black Chicken
Farmers of Wine
View our entire Thanksgiving Zinfandel collection HERE
Bucking tradition is great, but sticking to the classics is what brings our history to the present moment. And isn’t that what this holiday is all about? Pinot Noir is without a doubt the most iconic Thanksgiving wine, and not without reason. Light to medium bodied, a perfect and subtle balance between earth and fruit, mouthwatering acidity, medium to low tannin – it’s a no-fuss wine that seamlessly saunters around every flavor on the table.
J Vineyards Multi-AVA
Hartford Court Land's Edge
View our entire Thanksgiving Pinot Noir collection HERE
Best White Wines for Thanksgiving
It feels wrong to lump these together, as they each deserve their own separate praises. However, it is helpful to talk about Alsatian wines as a group, because it is the Alsatian terroir (and, in recent years, some American AVAs) that makes these varietals so special. Riesling (the undisputed king of Alsace), Pinot Gris (the white wine to reel in red wine drinkers), and Gewurztraminer (literally, “spicy Traminer”) are some of the more popular Alsatian varietals whose aromas, flavors, and mouthfeel perfectly enhance traditional Thanksgiving foods without overpowering them. While they are each noticeably distinct from each other, they all present a kaleidoscope of fruit, flowers and spice, with Pinot Gris often taking on some added smokiness and earth. Pair Riesling with more traditional roasted turkey and Pinot Gris with roasted game meats, pork, or poultry. Gewurtraminer goes well with highly seasoned dishes like spiced cranberry sauce, cinnamon roasted sweet potatoes, and that spicy Cajun holiday darling - turducken.
Kung Fu Girl Riesling
Schlumberger Pinot Gris
The Furst Gewurztraminer
There are few things more refreshing than a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. This light bodied white with its racy acidity is the ultimate palate cleanser to cut right through buttery potatoes, creamy casseroles, and dark meat turkey. The characteristic citrus, herb, and mineral notes are also a classic companion to simple salads, white meat cuts of turkey, and light vegetable dishes. Like Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc effortlessly covers all the bases, complimenting a wide variety of traditional Thanksgiving dishes.
View our entire Thanksgiving Sauvignon Blanc collection HERE
Chardonnay can be a little tricky, but that’s why you have us! What we can say for sure is that Chardonnay, in all its shape-shifting expressions, has a solid seat at the Thanksgiving table. Yes, even the bold, rich, oaky Napa styles (this is not a popular opinion, but it's ours and we're sticking to it). What it comes down to is a matter of taste. Nothing warms the heart like a rich, full-bodied Napa Chardonnay to play off salty, sweet and earthy dishes like sausage dressing, dark meat turkey, and roasted winter squash. If a mouthful of oak, butter and caramel is not your style, stick to unoaked and cool climate Chardonnays from Sonoma Coast, Oregon and Washington, which have more vibrant fruit and fresh acidity to complement the rich holiday flavors in all the ways that a crisp Sauvignon Blanc would. Don’t be afraid to branch out internationally as well! Argentina, Chile and Burgundy (the motherland of Chardonnay) produce excellent food friendly expressions.
Mer Soleil Unoaked
Hartford Court Four Hearts
View our entire Thanksgiving Chardonnay collection HERE
Best Non-Traditional Wines for Thanksgiving
Ah, yes. Rose. That byword for carefree summer fun is now a serious contender on this, our nation’s day of thanks. This is the Goldilocks of wine – not too big, not too small, just right. Stylistically varied, yet all presenting the same unique combination, Rose wines from around the world showcase the fruit and weight of a red alongside the cleansing vibrancy of white. This is the multi-tasker that will tie that white meat cut of turkey and sweet cranberry sauce into one big, delicious love knot.
Domaine Ott Chateau de Selle
View our entire Thanksgiving Rose collection HERE
Because who doesn’t love sabering a bottle of bubbly (DISCLAIMER: this is not an official recommendation, sword wielding is at your own risk). Aside from the obvious fun factor, Champagne and other sparkling wines are extremely versatile and compliment a wide range of foods. With so many styles to choose from (bone dry to decadently sweet, fresh and tart to creamy and toasty), sparkling wine is tailor made for pairing with multi-course meals. The teeming bubbles also act as perfect little palate cleansers. Serve up a Blanc de Blancs style (100% Chardonnay based), which will expertly carry the meal straight from appetizers to the main course, complimenting all manner of flavors, textures and preparation styles with its delicious balance between bright citrus and toasty brioche. Brut rose styles easily stand up to more robust flavors and darker cuts of meat. For dessert, don't be afraid to pop open the sweet stuff. The soft, honey-laden notes of a demi-sec or Moscato d’Asti pair beautifully with pumpkin pie, and the luscious berry flavors of a lightly sparkling Italian Brachetto d’Acqui is apple pie’s newest best friend.
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
Laurent Perrier Brut Rose
Risata Moscato d'Asti
That's right, canned wine. Because for every magazine-ready holiday spread, there is an equally celebratory Thanksgiving sunset cruise on the family party-barge, or an ultra casual Friendsgiving campout - those places where clunky bottles and long-stemmed glassware simply cannot go. Canned wines are also an excellent choice for serving large parties, where the cost per serving is often much less than with your standard bottle of vino. And since canned wine is one of the fastest growing niches in the wine industry, quality is no longer sacrificed as more and more big names compete to provide quality wine in a can. With everything else on your plate this season (pun intended), canned wine might just be the life saver you never knew you needed.
Underwood Pinot Noir
Sofia Coppola Blanc de Blancs
Pampelonne Rose Lime Sparkling
View our entire Thanksgiving canned wine collection HERE