The 8 Best Friendsgiving Wines Under $20, According to Sommeliers
With food prices on the rise, you're likely spending more on your Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving menus this year. (BTW, here are nine places to order your turkey if you're still searching!) So we totally get it if you don't want to drop a whole paycheck on wine to share at your Friendsgiving feast. Luckily, you can snag some surprisingly high-quality, perfect-for-pairing wines for less than you'd invest in a delivery pizza.
"The top two words to keep in mind when you're picking a Friendsgiving wine: food-friendly," says Brianne Cohen, a Los Angeles-based certified sommelier and wine educator. "The centerpiece of Friendsgiving is the beautiful meal that the group will enjoy together, which is generally potluck-style, with an array of foods, styles and spices. The key is to select versatile wines that aren't too heavy."
Since it's a celebratory occasion that's generally a bit more casual than Thanksgiving dinner itself, "fun" and "easy-to-drink" are two more qualities to keep in mind, adds Aldo Zaninotto, the owner and wine director of Testaccio and Osteria Langhe in Chicago.
Among the best varietals to fit this bill:
- Chardonnay: "This is a perfect 'winter white' since chardonnay generally sees some oak aging, which can make the wine feel more full-bodied and textured," Cohen says. "I always think of an oak-aged white wine like a hug from an old friend; a 'comfort wine,' if you will. And what better for Friendsgiving!"
- Prosecco: This Italian sparkling wine made with glera grapes offers notes of peach, pear, melon, green apple and honeysuckle. "These classic flavors are familiar to most wine drinkers, but also offer an easy-sipping option for guests who aren't generally wine fans," Zaninotto says.
- Mencia: "This has the body and fruit profile of a malbec with the structure and punch of a syrah," says Mike Fayad, general manager and wine expert at Hearth and Hill in Park City, Utah. It's an ideal Friendsgiving wine to surprise your dining companions who prefer red wines.
- Albariño: According to Fayad, this "bright, dry and racy" white is an excellent alternative for those who typically drink sauvignon blanc.
- Chenin Blanc: Dense, rich and somewhat similar to chardonnay, the honey-like qualities of this white wine pair well with many fall flavors.
- Cabernet Franc: This earthy red "tends to be an easy-drinking, rustic and fun wine to drink with a group," Fayad adds.
As far as the worst wines for Friendsgiving? Avoid super-bold, high-alcohol red wines like zinfandel, Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon or other highly tannic reds (including nebbiolo, Barolo and Barbaresco). "After just a couple of glasses you are pretty much done," Zaninotto says, and you want everyone to be able to sip and linger comfortably all evening long. (ICYMI, serving in this style of glasses is a simple way to pace the spirits!)
The 8 Best Friendsgiving Wines under $20, According to Sommeliers
Take those general wine tips to your local wine store to stock up to pair with your Friendsgiving menu, or consider stocking up on one (or several) of these available-online wines. Each clocks in between $14.98 and $19.99!
Best Friendsgiving White Wines
Leitz Dragonstone Riesling
This one's ideal for appetizer time or for enjoying with your no-cook Friendsgiving dessert board for a casual evening in or with a classic Thanksgiving-style meal with turkey and all the fixings. "I consider the Dragonstone riesling a conversation-opener," Zaninotto says. "It's a casual drinking wine that's perfect for a pick-me-up. It's very versatile, so it pairs well with many different dishes and is perfect for a larger gathering."
Buy it: $16.62, Drizly
Chateau de la Roulerie Anjou Blanc
"Anjou is a region in the Loire Valley in France that I think expresses chenin blanc at its best," Fayad says. Since it doesn't carry the weight of wines from the other chenin blanc-producing regions of the world, these tend to be easy-drinking, dry and very expressive. This bottle in particular delivers on all those qualities, and is rich in ripe fall fruit notes.
Buy it: $18.99, Total Wine
District 7 Estate Grown 2018 Chardonnay
This bottle is proof that you *can* get sustainable wines for a killer price, Cohen says. "District 7 Vineyards are 100% sustainable and their winery is 100% powered by renewable energy," she adds, making this wine's story as enticing as its flavors. Versatile, balanced and ideal to enjoy with a huge spread of side dishes, this chardonnay showcases "beautiful purity of fruit, with just a kiss of oak and buttery notes," Cohen says.
Buy it: $18, Vivino
Best Friendsgiving Red Wines
Pecchenino San Luigi Dogliani Dolcetto
The lively acidity of this classic Italian red wine makes it very food-friendly. "It's a juicy wine, but still has a great structure and is the perfect accompaniment to a Thanksgiving-style meal," Zaninotto says.
Buy it: $16.99, Vivino
Firesteed 2019 Pinot Noir
It can be tough to find a well-priced, high-quality pinot noir, Cohen admits. But this Firesteed pinot noir breaks the mold. "Varietally correct, meaning this is pinot that tastes like pinot, this earthy, red fruit-strong wine is a great value," she says. "Pinot noir is one of the most perfect reds for your Friendsgiving table—it's light and fruit-forward and doesn't compete with the cornucopia of flavors on the table."
Buy it: $17.99, Wine.com
Cuvee Signee by Romain Parisis Chinon
Primarily grown to blend with merlot and cabernet sauvignon, it's about time cabernet franc got its moment in the sun, Fayad says. It's lighter and brighter than cabernet sauvignon, and offers a peppery, earthy, herbaceous flavor and moderate tannins that make it a Friendsgiving favorite of Fayad. "Chinon is a region in the Loire Valley in France that I think best expresses cabernet franc in its most classic form, at a fairly affordable price point," he says. At 12.5% alcohol, this is also an easy drinker as far as red wines go. (Some can top 17%!)
Buy it: $16.99, Total Wine
Best Friendsgiving Sparkling Wines
La Gioiosa Prosecco Rosè Millesimato
"A celebratory wine with a bright flavor," Zaninotto says, adding that guests will think that you invested $50 or more on this festive bottle. "When you drink it, it feels like you've spent a lot of money but it's actually very affordable. It's one I always keep in the house." This bubbly rosé is pleasantly acidic, not too sweet and is rich in citrus and berry flavors.
Buy it: $14.99, Vivino
Paula Kornell Brut Métode Champenoise Sparkling
This crisp, bright and cheerful Napa Valley bubbly is among the most wallet-friendly wines you'll find that's made using the traditional method for sparkling wine—just like they do in Champagne, Cohen says. "If you're getting together with a group of people, and especially if gratitude and the holiday spirit are around, bubbly is a must," she says. Made with chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, almond, cherry and stone fruit flavors prevail in this low-ABV wine. Try it with dessert to wrap up the evening on a bright note.
Buy it: $19.99, B-21
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