Versatility is the word of the day when it comes to choosing a wine for Thanksgiving. A wine needs to pair with the multitude of flavors on the table: the acidic cranberries, the herb-infused stuffing, the rich gravy, the buttery potatoes--not to mention the salty snacks upon arrival. But it also needs to please a wide variety of palates.
Riesling is one of the best white wine choices (we like Dr Loosen,
Langwerth Von Simmern, and Zind-Humbrecht from Germany and Navarro Vineyards
and Chateau Ste Michelle from the U.S.; Lindemans and Banrock Station from
Australia are also favorites), but not everyone is a fan so be sure to have
other white wine options on hand: Pinot Gris (very food friendly; try
King Estate, A to Z, or Huia) and Viognier (we like Stag's Leap Winery, Peay
Vineyards, and Qupé) are food-and-Aunt Sally friendly. I also like to serve bubbly - Champagne or sparkling wine. Bubbly literally pairs with any food (except dessert), so it's the ultimate holiday wine choice. French Champagne is an easy choice but try California sparkling wines (Schramsberg, Iron Horse, and Domaine Chandon are a few favorites), a Spanish Cava, or an Italian Prosecco.
If you're sticking with red, and keeping it all-American, try a Zinfandel.
You can't miss with the three R's: Rosenblum, Ridge, and Ravenswood. Pinot Noir
from California's Sonoma County is also a sure bet (Etude, Siduri, and La Crema are some tasty picks). A Côtes-du-Rhône would also ease the way for
more turkey if you're feeling French (Guigal is a reliable producer available
in most states), as would a Valpolicella Classico from Italy (Masi is
one of our favorites).
Keep in mind that the heavier the wine, the more likely your
guests will doze off in their chair (or on your couch). Skip the Cabernet
Sauvignon and Chardonnay; you won't do the wine -- or the food -- a favor by
pouring these big boys. And if you want to pour something with the dessert, make sure it's a dessert wine; the number one rule for pairing wine and desserts is that the wine must be as sweet as or sweeter than the dessert (otherwise the wine will taste thin). Port, Sauternes, Moscato d'Asti, and Vin Santo are some fabulous dessert wine choices.
Photo by Denise Daclan