Off The Beaten Path Thanksgiving Wine Values


Thanksgiving wine pairing can be tough. With tons of different flavors and lots of different palates at the table, it's downright difficult, if not impossible, to find the perfect wine. Pinot Noir, Riesling and Beaujolais are always near the top of the most recommended list, while Carmenere and Gewurztraminer  seem to be this year's trendy picks. Ever popular varieties like Cabernet and Chardonnay always get a good number of shout-outs as well. So which ones do you choose? I say none of the above. At The Reverse Wine Snob, we love to introduce people to new varieties of wine and Thanksgiving presents an awesome opportunity to pop open several bottles and experiment. Today we've got five value picks that go a little deeper and introduce some varieties that you may not have previously considered for your Thanksgiving feast. 
The most popular red grape in Austria, Zweigelt is a cross between St. Laurent and Blaufrankisch and the grape seems tailor made for Thanksgiving dinner with its cranberry and baking spice flavors. One of our favorite examples, the Zantho Zweigelt begins with spicy dark berry and cranberry aromas along with cinnamon and pepper. It needs a little time to breathe to really open up but then reveals a creamy texture with flavors of smoky cranberry and other red berries, a little pepper and more baking spice. The slightly dry finish features more of the same flavors. If you can't find this one the Meinhard Forstreiter Zvy-Gelt Zweigelt and the Juris Zweigelt Selection are also solid choices. 
Cinsault usually used as a blending component in red wines or perhaps on its own as a rosé, actually offers a perfect complement to your Thanksgiving flavors. But I'm not talking about just any Cinsault here, what you want is Cinsault from the Bechtold Vineyard  in Lodi, California which, believe it or not, is one of the oldest Cinsault vineyards in the world. Planted in 1885, a number of different labels produce wine from the Bechtold Vineyard but one of our favorites (and also one of the cheapest) is the 2013 Michael David Winery Ancient Vine Cinsault
This wine opens with lovely, lovely, lovely aromas of cranberry, baking spice, mint, red licorice, black cherry and lots of floral notes. Tasting shows an excellent subtle complexity with juicy fruit, minerals, spice and dried herbs all combining seamlessly in this light to medium-bodied wine. It ends very long and lingering. Drink a little piece of history with this one.
Barbera is a fabulous food wine that shouldn't just be relegated to Italian dishes. We think it also makes a fabulous pairing for roast turkey and mashed potatoes and the 2012 Renato Ratti Barbera d'Alba is a great choice. Retailing for around $16, the wine begins with an excellent aroma of black cherry, plum, wonderful smoked meat notes and a hint of mint and baking spice. Tasting reveals a tart, juicy and delicious wine filled with succulent dark berry flavors and perfectly integrated spice. The wine ends dry with lots of lingering spice, more juicy fruit, a bit of chocolate and even some balsamic notes. Fabulous!
OK, OK, this might fall into the trendy pick category but it's so worthy of consideration that I will repeat it here: A nice dry rosé might just be the best possible pairing for Thanksgiving dinner. A fabulous food wine, rosé offers enough acidity to offset all those rich flavors at the table but does it with much more pizazz than a plain old white. And while many turn to Provence  for their rosé needs, as a fan of the Rhone Valley I think the region of Tavel (which exclusively produces rosé wines) offers just what your turkey day feast needs. 
The 2013 Chateau de Trinquevedel Tavel Rosé opens with an excellent aroma of strawberry, red cherry, a little rhubarb, a hint of sea salt and flowers. The wine tastes fresh, spicy, tangy and absolutely delicious. Dry and loaded with tart berry and citrus flavors, this rosé has an excellent full texture with wonderfully integrated spice and herb notes. Lovely mineral and sea salt notes become more prominent on the finish and linger nicely.
Ice Wine (or Icewine)
When the main meal is done and the table is filled with all those rich desserts, a good ice wine might just be the ticket. The Yarden Heights Wine Gewurztraminer Ice Wine from Golan Heights Winery is not only delicious but also a sure conversation starter thanks to its place of origin (how many wines have you had from Israel lately) and that it is made from Gewurztraminer instead of the usual Riesling or Vidal.
The wine begins with aromas of peaches, apricots, tropical fruits and honeysuckle plus a little cinnamon and pine tree. It tastes deliciously sweet with a rich, smooth and even a bit creamy texture and exhibits great depth of flavor with pear, apricot and mango flavors plus a whole lot of honey and a little spice. Good acidity helps to offset all the sweetness. The ice wine ends with good length featuring more sweet fruit and highlighted with lots of sweet vanilla and cinnamon. This one will set you back a little over $20, but for something this unique it's money well spent in my opinion.

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