When a wine and a dish work together, both the wine and the food taste better than they would on their own. If a meal is centered around a single dish with one or two accompaniments, picking the right wine can be fairly straightforward. But when it comes to Thanksgiving— with many dishes— the task is not so simple.
We’ve selected 8 excellent wines in three price ranges for your holiday table. Salut!
$10 & under:
Pierre Sparr, Alsace One (France, 2004) $10.
This smooth, slightly off-dry, beautifully balanced white is a blend of great Thanksgiving-friendly varietals—including Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Blanc. Creamy, ripe persimmon and melon flavors combine with crisp and acidic citrus, pear and green apple. Truly versatile, Alsace One will take you from starters to turkey to sides.
Jean-Luc Colombo, Côtes du Rhône (Les Abeilles, France, 2003) $8. Full of nuance, this fabulously priced Rhône Valley wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, with bright berry flavors complemented by spice, anise, bay and a hint of green olives. Smooth tannins and a dose of acidity make it a natural with an herb-laden stuffing like our Pear, Prosciutto & Hazelnut Stuffing.
Guy Saget, Sancerre (France, 2004) $16.
A lovely white from the Loire Valley, this Sancerre displays a balanced abundance of green apple and pear with flourishes of honey and citrus blossom. With its light body and crisp finish, it’s a fitting complement to a cheese-and-fruit course or a savory oyster stew.
Erath, Pinot Noir (Oregon, 2005) $19.
Beautifully dynamic, this Pinot shimmers with lavender atop deep notes of roasted coffee, licorice, black cherry and oil-cured olives. It is superbly drinkable, so you’ll want to have several bottles on hand to keep those glasses full from the first course to the last.
Sineann, Gewürztraminer (Oregon, 2004) $21.
Aromatics of roasted pineapple, banana and spice introduce a pleasingly dry version of this varietal. It is rich and velvety like ripe stone fruit. Brilliant sharpness cleans your mouth, leaving a nutty taste and a desire for more. This will pour well with all the traditional Thanksgiving stars, from stuffing and mashed potatoes to sweet potatoes and green beans.
Girard, Petite Sirah (California, 2003) $25.
Dense and rich, the Girard is not so petite in presence. It is opaque and inky with intense flavor and body. Blueberry and blackberry with smooth, strong tannins make this hearty as well as refined. Its full flavor fades elegantly, leaving a long-lasting and heady floral sensation. Traditionalists pair Thanksgiving dinner with German Riesling or Pinot Noir, but this luxurious and bold wine would pair marvelously with dark turkey meat or the gamy rustic flavors of a heritage turkey, heady gravy and a side of sweet potatoes.
Dessert Wines Under $30:
Peter Lehmann, Botrytis Semillon (Australia, 2002) $17.
One of the ways to make dessert wine is to allow a fungus called Botrytis cinerea to attack your vines. That may seem counterintuitive, but in this case, winemakers rejoice when “the noble rot” arrives—as long as specific weather conditions allow the fungus to flourish. If successful, botrytis produces shriveled grapes with intensified sugar content, but the acid content still remains high, producing well-balanced dessert wines with intense honey flavors. This wine is no exception; its golden color and intense pear and apricot aromas are enticing. Perfect paired with Oatmeal-Nut Crunch Apple Pie.
Warre’s, Otima, 10 Year Old Tawny Port (Portugal) $26.
Port is a fortified wine made in the Douro Valley of Portugal. What differentiates tawny from ruby port is that tawny is aged in oak, turning its ruby color toward brown. Its nutty, spicy nose is echoed in the flavor, along with golden raisin, banana and vanilla. This would go well with all the traditional Thanksgiving desserts—pumpkin, apple or pecan pie—as well as our Glazed Chocolate-Pumpkin Bundt Cake.