It’s almost that time to wake up early, watch the parade, make the pumpkin pie, and decorate the table for Thanksgiving! I look forward to this day every year not only for the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes (potatoes are my favorite) but because its the day that I can put multiple wine glasses at each place setting, open a ton of bottles, and force my family to try everything while I enthusiastically shout out what wine to try with which dish (it really is a dream come true).
Just kidding, I don’t force anyone to drink wine. But it is pretty awesome getting to taste each wine with the side dishes and having those “aha!” moments where something works really well.
With that, I give you my top 4 wines to have on your Thanksgiving table this year and every year after this. Since you’ll hopefully have plenty of people over to drink 4 bottles of wine, this is a great way to get variety onto the table and avoid buying multiple bottles of the same wine. Woohoo!
1. Sparkling Wine
What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than with sparkling wine?! Not only are bubbles great for the holidays, but they also pair with the many flavors of the meal. Each time you take a sip of sparkling wine, the bubbles scrub your tongue clean, giving you a fresh palate for the next bite of food you take. With all the flavors going on in Thanksgiving side dishes, sparkling wine will help cleanse your palate.
You have lots of choices when it comes to bubbles, depending on your budget. Cava, Prosecco, Champagne…all good. My biggest piece of advice, however, is to spend at least $10 on that bottle of bubbly. Any less, and you risk the bottle being force-carbonated which might give you a nasty hangover for Black Friday. (And nobody wants that).
- Nino Franco Prosecco Brut $
- Freixenet Brut $
- Roederer Estate Brut Rosé $$
- Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut $$$
Riesling is an absolute MUST at the Thanksgiving table! There are lots of sweet flavors in the dishes, so you need a sweet wine to balance them out. However, don’t go buying late-harvest, dessert-style Rieslings as they are way too sweet and heavy to pair with dinner. Instead, opt for a Kabinett Riesling from Germany or a domestic off-dry example. These wines are great pairings for Thanksgiving because the sweetness of the wine matches the sweetness in the food and won’t overpower even the lightest dishes.
- Dr. Loosen “Dr. L” Mosel, Germany $
- Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley, Washington $
- Dr. Loosen “Blue Slate” Kabinett Mosel, Germany $$
- Elk Cove, Willamette Valley, Oregon $$
Thanksgiving is my favorite time to drink Beaujolais. It is actually the first red wine I think of when preparing my wine list for the big day. I partly enjoy it so much with this holiday because I never seem to drink it any other time of the year, even though it’s a great little wine with a very small price tag. A light red wine made from the gamay grape, Beaujolais boasts vibrant flavors of bright red fruit and even a bit of candied “grapeiness”. Its a crowd-pleaser, as usual sweet-wine drinkers even warm up to it, and it pairs incredibly with Thankgsiving. You can usually find a cheap Beaujolais under $10, but for a few dollars more, you can get the best of the best, Cru Beaujolais. I say if you get one wine to go with Thanksgiving dinner, make it this one. Note: Beaujolais Nouveau hits stores in November each year, so it should be very easy to find.
- Any Beaujolais-Villages
- Any Beaujolais that says “Morgon”, “Brouilly”, or “Moulin-a-Vent”
- Favorite producers: Joseph Drouhin and Georges DuBoeuf
4. Pinot Noir/Red Burgundy
Like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir is a great wine for Thanksgiving because it is light, fruity, and low in tannin. Thanksgiving dishes are not heavy so these light-bodied wines will complement, rather than overpower, them. Personally I suggest a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley or Burgundy as these are usually the lightest and have a bit more earthiness to them than their California counterparts.
- Erath, Willamette Valley, Oregon $
- Adelsheim Vineyards, Willamette Valley, Oregon $$
- Flowers, Sonoma Coast, California $$
- Any red burgundy–look for Savigny-Les-Beaune or Nuits-St. Georges for good values
Other Favorites of Mine
Gewurztraminer or Cabernet Franc are also great additions to the Thanksgiving table if you are feeling a bit more adventurous. Just stay away from big wines like Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon, unless you have guests coming over that will not settle with anything else (in which you should make them bring their own wine. Just saying.)
What are your favorite wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner? Let me know in the comments!