Best Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner
Ahhhh, wine. My favorite part of any meal, especially at a family heavy and expectation laden disaster-waiting-to happen event, such as Thanksgiving. Kidding. Who doesn’t love to be bombarded with magazine after magazine cover promising the “PERFECT THANKSGIVING” or “EASIEST THANKSGIVING” or an ever promising “GORGEOUS THANKSGIVING!” while looking out at chipped pie plates, wrinkly napkins, spotty silverware and a bird the size of a toddler, taking up all the space in your fridge and oozing out some weird pink liquid?
Bring on the vino.
My love of wine undoubtedly started in the womb, but my appreciation and knowledge reached new heights working under a major Bordeaux connoiseur, and alongside a good looking twenty-something wine expert-in-the-making, both in NYC. The seed that had already been planted could then do nothing but grow out of control, as I continued my career and education. I love seeking out new wines, vacationing in wine producing areas, attending tastings, geeking out with other wine friends, and making friends and gathering business cards from wine stores in towns across the globe. (A ton of fun for my family, I’m sure).
So, as I sit here and stare at all the wine I can’t drink until my own little turkey pops out, I’ve decided to combine my experience as a wine drinker, student, educator and collector, and I have created a top 33 wines list to take you confidently through Thanksgiving. While I sip sparkling water. Cheers!
Three notes before we start:
1. Quantity: A good rule of thumb is 2/3 of a bottle per person, but it is important to know your audience. If Uncle Jed hits the bottle hard, keep that in mind.
2. I have specifically chosen wines that are easy to get your hands on at a decent local wine store, or by ordering directly from a winery. You can also check Wine Searcher if you want to check out who may be stocking something near you. If you’re a hunter as well as a gatherer, and want some harder to find recommendations or specific food pairing recommendations, let me know. I’ll see what I can find.
3. I always … always … recommend building a relationship with someone at a local wine shop and listening to their advice over any list you may find, including this one. Like any relationship, take your time. Build up some trust. Enter it in good faith, but make sure you are both bringing something to the table. They should recognize you when you enter the store, and their eyes should light up when they see you! Talk to them about what you like and don’t like. And find out what THEY like and don’t like, and play to their strengths. For instance, my favorite wine person in New Orleans has out of this world knowledge about French and Italian wines and Grower Champagnes, but doesn’t love California wines. Since I have strong California wine knowledge I just don’t go to him for advice on those, but instead I squeeeeeze out every last drop of knowledge that he has about French wines. Also, you want someone you can be honest with about money. I’ve had him find great whites for $10 a bottle, as well as French Burgundy at over $100 a bottle.
Okay. Shut up and give you the goods already, right?
Stretching your dollars?
Cardon Negro Brut Cava (Spain) $10
Freixenet Brut de Noirs NV ($10)
Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut (Columbia County California) $12
La Marca Prosecco (Italy) $15
Domaine Chandon Brut (California) $20
Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc (California) $14
Montes Limited Selection Leyda Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Chile) $14
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Fume Blanc (Napa Valley, California) $18
La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast, California) $18
Columbia Crest Merlot (Columbia Valley, Washington) $12
Kim Crawford Pinot Noir (Marlborough, New Zealand) $13
Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley, Australia) $20
Mt. Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir (Central Otago, New Zealand) $20
Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon) $20
DeLoach Pinot Noir (California) $15
Quady Winery Orange Muscat Essensia (California) $10 for a 375ml aka half-bottle
Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port (Portugal) $22
Piles of cash?
Bollinger Special Cuvee (Champagne, France) $50
Gosset Grand reserve Brut (Champagne, France) $60
Billecart Salmon Brut Rose (Champagne, France) $100
“Grower” Champagnes (France) $40-$60/bottle. These are smaller wines that you probably have not heard of. Technically, it means that the wine is made on the same estate where the grapes are grown. You can find some gorgeous grower champagnes if you trust a wine shop near you. No point in me giving you recommendations because the sames wines will not be availble everywhere. Ask at your local wine shop.
Domaine Vacheron Sancerre (Loire Valley, France) $34
Domaine Fournier Pere & Fils Les Deux Cailloux Pouille-Fume ($26)
Fess Parker Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County, California) $18
Conundrum White (California) $22 (this wine is just slightly sweet)
Sokol Blosser Pinot Gris (Williamette Valley, Oregon) $10
Archery Summit Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
Louis Jadot Gevery-Chambertin ($40)
Ceja Pinot Noir or Merlot (Carneros, California) $50, order online from winery
Quixote Cabernet Sauvignon (Stags’ Leap Range, California) $90, order online from winery
Andrew Will Sorella (Washington State) $70, order online from winery
Merry Edwards Pinot Noir (California) $50 to $60 depending on which specific vineyard
Graham’s Vintage Port, 1985 (Portugal) $125