As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite wine picks to enjoy with your gluttonous feasts. Since such a wide variety of dishes and flavors are featured on today’s holiday smörgåsbords, I’ve included white and red wines that are both versatile and food-friendly. For the most part, I’ve only listed grape varietals (both well- and lesser-known), rather than specific producers, as what’s available to you will depend on how well-stocked your local wine shops are and on which wines are distributed in your region. A good salesperson at your local wine store should be able to make recommendations on specific producers and bottlings, based on your preference for grape varietal and/or region.
Even though I enjoy it, Gewurtztraminer tends to polarize (one of those love-it or hate-it wines), so a dry or slightly off-dry Riesling is a safer bet, especially those from upstate NY. See this New York Times article on Finger Lakes Riesling for a few ideas, like Ravines Dry Riesling, one of my favorites. Other minerally whites with good acidity that pair well with food include Grüner Veltliner from Austria, Albariño from Spain, and Vermentino from Italy—wines made from those grapes have become more widely available, so you can likely find them at your local wine store. My other white picks include Godello from northern Spain and Loire Valley whites like Sauignon Blanc (e.g., Sancerre) or Chenin Blanc (e.g., Savennières). If you want a sparkler to jazz up the occasion, Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava still offer great values, and if you’re keeping your Turkey day all-American, then look for Gruet from New Mexico—it’s a real find, and a bargain at that.
For the folks who tend to think red wine is too heavy, you could probably please them with a light and fruity Beaujolais Nouveau. More interesting, however, would be a Cru Beaujolais, which can hail from 10 different designated zones (“crus”) within the Beaujolais region. They’re fuller bodied than a Nouveau (but still on the lighter side as reds go) and almost reminiscent of a Pinot Noir. A couple lesser-known and lighter reds that pair well with turkey include Zweigelt (most available are those from Austria) or Lagrein from northern Italy. A medium-bodied Pinot Noir )Long Island, Oregon) or perhaps even a Cabernet Franc (upstate NY, Long Island, Loire Valley) would be great picks too. On the bubbly side, I agree with one of the recent Thanksgiving wine picks from the New York Times: a good, dry Lambrusco from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. They’ve come a long way from the cloyingly sweet Riunite bubbles of yore that Grandma used to drink.
Cheers, and a happy Thanksgiving to all!