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7 Great Choices for Thanksgiving Wines

This year there’s lots to be thankful for, particularly for the exceptional recent vintages that offer a spectacular selection of wines to pair with your Thanksgiving feast. We’d like to introduce you to some classic wine choices for Thanksgiving as well as a few new intriguing options that you might not have considered.

Thanksgiving Wine Pairings (and why they work):

If you’re wondering why the following wines were chosen as ideal Thanksgiving matches, let’s take into account what these wines share in common. Each of the following red wines were chosen for their bold, red fruit flavors, subtle earthiness, light tannin, and moderate acidity. Why? Because these traits beautifully complement a traditional Thanksgiving menu and here’s how:
  • Red fruit flavors mimic the tartness of cranberry sauce and match well with autumn spices such as clove, allspice, and cinnamon.
  • Light tannin and moderate acidity pair perfectly with the texture and intensity of turkey.
  • Subtle earthiness complements the earthy, umami-rich flavor of the gravy.

Zinfandel

Zinfandel could very well be the #1 All-American Thanksgiving wine choice given that it was once the most planted variety in California (prior to the Prohibition era). Here’s how this wine will behave when paired with food:
  • It will amplify Thanksgiving spices such as clove, cinnamon, and allspice.
  • It often adds a touch of smokiness to the taste profile.
  • It’s typically bolder and richer (higher alcohol) and thus, pairs well with dark meat turkey.

Here is a great American Zin to get your mouth watering:

2011 Easton Wines Fiddletown Zinfandel (California, USA; $20)

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the fine-wine lover’s #1 pick for Thanksgiving, which is due (in large part) to the grape’s prestigious pedigree tracing back to Burgundy, France.
  • A great pick for classic Thanksgiving dishes with simple spicing (salt + pepper) or cream-based dishes like creamy mashed potatoes or casserole.
  • Pinot works well with both dark and white meat turkey.
  • It will do great to accentuate cranberry-like flavors.

The following wines highlight Pinot Noir’s brilliant red fruit and spice flavors:

2016 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara County, CA; $25)
2014 Bacchus GingerS Cuvee Pinot Noir (California; $13)
2014 Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley, CA; $30)

Beaujolais

Beaujolais is the Francophiles #1 choice for Thanksgiving wines due to the perfectly timed arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. This wine is made with 100% Gamay, which has a lot of similarities to Pinot Noir, except with way more bang-for-the-buck. Here’s why:
  • It pairs exceptionally well with wild rice, salads, roasted squash, and cranberries.
  • It balances Thanksgiving dinners that have a high sweetness factor (yams, etc.) with Bojo’s savory and earthy quality.
  • Its lighter, less tannic style works well with white meat turkey.

Here is our staff favorite:

2017 Domaine de la Madone Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau (Burgundy, France; $12)

GSM/Rhône Blends

This is the wine collector’s top pick for Thanksgiving because bottles are usually best served after aging (anywhere from 4–10 years). A GSM Blend contains Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre as its main ingredients.
  • The bolder blending varieties of Mourvèdre and Syrah make this wine pair well with smoked turkey.
  • The tertiary flavors of fig or dried berries from a properly aged GSM Blend match well with roasted squash and stuffing.
  • The earthy and meaty quality of the wine accentuates the savory quality of turkey gravy.

A few examples of Rhône Blends from all over the world include:

2014 Domaine de la Graveirette Cotes du Rhone Rouge (Rhone Valley, France; $16)
2014 Domaine Andezon Cotes du Rhone (Rhone Valley, France; $16)

Rosé or Blanc de Noirs Champagne

This is a sommelier’s must-have wine for Thanksgiving because, for a somm, you can’t really start a meal without a splash of something sparkling wine. Here’s why:
  • It’s a great choice for a pre-Thanksgiving aperitif.
  • It’s bold enough to pair alongside dinner (for Champagne pairing with the main course).
  • Its strawberry, white currant and white raspberry flavors accentuate the cranberry flavors in the dish.
  • It acts as a palate cleanser to rich gravies and meats.

A few examples that are both awesome and affordable:

Val de Mer French Sparkling Brut Nature Rose (Burgundy, France; $20)
Mousse Fils Effusion Rose Brut Champagne (Marne River Valley, Champagne; $59)

Sancerre

If you feature brussels sprouts or green beans prevalently in your meal, consider a lean, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc as a highlight wine pairing. The 2015 vintage was exceptional in the Loire Valley and Sancerre is one of the international favorites of this region. Here’s why:
  • It pairs exceptionally well with green bean casserole, brussels sprouts, and roast asparagus.
  • It acts as a palate cleanser to rich gravies and meats.

A few examples include:

2016 Thomas-Labaille Les Monts Damnes Sancerre (Loire Valley, France; $30)
2015 Paul Bernier Silex Sancerre (Loire Valley, France; $29)
2016 Emile Balland 'Croq'caillotte' Sancerre (Loire Valley, France; $25)

 

Amarone della Valpolicella

If you’re featuring ham as your main dish this year, the rich dried-cherry and chocolately wines of Valpolicella are amazing. Here’s why:
  • Its redolent cherry flavors accentuate the sweetness of ham.
  • Its moderate acidity acts as a palate cleanser, which is ideal for complementing rich meats and gravies.
  • Its dried fruit aromas of fig and raisins add to the harvest taste palate.

Of course, Amarone della Valpolicella is an expensive wine due to its production process. Here are the best values we could find:

2011 Santi Amarone della Valpolicella DOC (Veneto, Italy; $45)

Most importantly, have a great Thanksgiving - from our table to yours!

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