The Ultimate Thanksgiving Wine List

 


This is not your first Thanksgiving rodeo. It's not ours, either. We've brought you a panoply of Thanksgiving table wine suggestions over the past ten years. There was the time we assured you that Thanksgiving wines wouldn't break your bank. In fact, we've discussed Thanksgiving value wines time and time again. We've been here for you during Thanksgiving wine emergencies, too -- and even told you what to do with the leftover corks. Suffice it to say, we have been down this road together before.  But each new year presents the chance to improve upon the last. As such, the web's top wine writers have chosen their top Thanksgiving 2016 wines at the $30 and under price point. Print this article and get to your local wine shop, stat. The clear winner this year was Onesta Cinsault from Lodi, California. The same bottle was recommended by two of our writers!
The Rhône

When I think of Thanksgiving wines, I think of Rhône varieties. And when I think of domestic Rhône varieties, I have to look locally. Texas is producing some lovely wines with Rhône grapes. Northern or Southern, white or red, I can always find one (or several) I'm excited to share with friends and family. Since Thanksgiving in Austin can mean warmer temperatures, I lean toward a white blend. The 2014 Wedding Oak Winery Terre Blanc begins with a classic blend of Marsanne, Viognier, and Roussanne. The addition of Trebbiano gives the wine a lilting acidity. The combination of grapes makes this wine versatile. With primary notes of pear and apricot, the wine moves into lemon zest, tea, and exotic spice, finishing with toasted macadamia nuts. It has the structure and weight to hold its own with enough bright notes to carry it through the richer dishes. The grapes in this wine are estate grown, planted with the dream, years ago. Their winemaker, Penny Adams has been a pioneer in the Texas wine industry for decades. Their namesake, the Wedding Oak in San Saba has provided shelter for centuries. There is a sentiment in that story that makes this wine a fitting choice for Thanksgiving. It reminds me to give thanks for risk-takers and quietly planning for the future. For the visionaries, venturing into the uncharted. And for the steady ones, the constants, selflessly providing support as we grow. Whichever wine you choose, I hope you have the opportunity to thank those people in your life, and to toast them with something delicious. Cheers!

Alissa Leenher
SAHMmelier

Trentodoc 

It's hard to go wrong with fine, sparkling wine as a pairing for festive holiday meals. When made with a good backbone of minerality and acidity, sparklers pair with a wide variety of foods. One excellent source for such wines is Trentodoc, a DOC appellation located in Italy's Trentino region. Trentodoc wines are made using the traditional methods and grapes of the Champagne region, but with the added benefit of the high elevation of the Dolomites to add a special edge. That elevation causes night time temperatures to drop significantly from the day, creating that diurnal variation that is so important to creating complexity in wines. If you love quality sparking Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, you need to investigate the producers of Trentodoc. A great place to start is with the Endrizzi familiy, one of the region top producers. 2011 Endrizzi Brut Riserva Pian Castello Trento DOC 13.5% $24: There is a lovely freshness at first on the nose with green apples and pear aromas, and a pure mineral undertone. In addition, there are deeper notes of subtle peach and bread dough, and a pretty layer of white flowers. The palate is energetic and mouthwatering with more green apple, some nectarine, honeysuckle, plenty of mineral support and fresh acidity. Complex and solid with plenty of character to accompany a meal. Produced from the single vineyard of Pian Castello. 60% Chardonnay / 40% Pinot Noir 92 Pts

Bob Fyke
Brunello Bob's World of Wine


Lemberger

Since this is America’s Thanksgiving, I would like to recommend a wine from the US - and since I live in New York City, I need to share the NY State love by recommending the Fox Run Vineyards 2014 Lemberger red wine. You can buy these wines directly from their website and they are able to ship directly to 29 states. Among wine nerds, Lemberger is actually more widely known as Blaufränkisch, a grape variety from Austria, but since the Finger Lakes wine producers in NY thought Blaufränkisch was too hard to pronounce, they decided that the German name for the same variety, Lemberger, was a better choice. Funny enough, they had initial problems with people in the US confusing the name with the stinky cheese, Limburger, but Fox Run Vineyards now says that it is no longer an issue with the younger generations of wine drinkers. In my opinion, Fox Run Vineyards makes one of the better Lemberger wines in the area as it can be a simplistic wine if not made in the right hands. Their 2014 has a nice peppery nose with moderate weight, lots of black cherry and bright cranberry flavors that will go nicely with Turkey, mashed potatoes and classic Turkey stuffing. It is a good "compromise wine" that pleases those who like a light bodied wine as well as those that like something a little heartier. The more senior members at the table will get a giggle at the “Lemberger” name while the younger, cool kids will be impressed with the Austrian Blaufränkisch connection - and you will be directly supporting a small American wine producer... all for $21 bucks. Happy Thanksgiving!

Cathrine Todd
Dame Wine


Syrah

I recently hosted a small impromptu blind tasting of some Syrah. The 2013 estate-grown selection from Fields Family Wines was the prettiest girl in the lineup. Everyone concluded it would be a great addition to any dinner table. But with Thanksgiving on the horizon, I thought it would be an ideal pick for Thanksgiving fare – particularly dark meat turkey, casseroles, and root vegetables. This Syrah is quite a charmer, offering aromas and flavors redolent of dark cherries and macerated raspberries with an underpinning of cracked pepper, gunflint, and perfumed notes of violets. In the mouth, the wine is just lovely: it’s medium-bodied and fresh with a bright personality and a certain feminine flare. There’s a nice pop of energy from the first sip through the finish. Fields Family Wine is a small-production, family-run operation in Lodi, California. For this reason, you probably won’t find this wine at your local grocer or shop. The best way to get this wine is through the fieldsfamilywines.com website. You can also give the tasting room a call Thursday thru Monday from 11am to 5pm PST at 209-327-6306. It’s priced at $24 and approximately 8 barrels were produced. Have a great Thanksgiving Day feast and holiday season!

Dezel Quillen
My Vine Spot

Pinot Noir

Boeger Winery is not your typical winery. A former homestead winery, farm, and distillery dating back to the late 1800s, the 82-acre, Placerville, California, estate was purchased in 1972 by Greg and Sue Boeger, and became El Dorado County’s first post-Prohibition winery. Nearly 45 years later, Boeger is truly a family affair, with Greg, Sue, son Justin, and daughter Lexi managing all aspects of the business. The winery is primarily known for its award-winning Italian and Bordeaux-style varietal wines. When one thinks of pinot noir, El Dorado County does not typically come to mind. However, being the experimental pioneer that he is, Greg Boeger decided to give it a try, and thank goodness for us, he did. The five clones of pinot noir in the 2014 Pinot Grande Pinot Noir Reserve, El Dorado ($25), are sourced from Boeger’s personal vineyard located at 2,900 feet in elevation, and aptly named after the nearby Pino Grande wood mill. A five-day cold soak renders this clear garnet, medium-bodied wine powerfully aromatic. On the palate, intense fruit flavors of cherry and cranberry are cradled by oak influences such as baking spices, cinnamon, and smoke. I originally tasted this wine with salmon, but I imagine pairing this wine with a hearty, traditional holiday meal, such as roasted turkey, sausage stuffing, creamy potatoes, and homemade cranberry sauce.

Elizabeth Smith
Traveling Wine Chick

Petit Manseng

Pinot Noir. Riesling. Gamay. Cabernet Franc. Champagne and sparkling wine. Each have been staples at our annual Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family for years.  Wines made Petit Manseng, a small, thick-skinned grape most commonly associated with the Jurançon region of southwestern France, are a new and permanent addition to our holiday dinner wine list. Largely unknown to much of the wine world, Petit Manseng is thriving in Virginia vineyards. The small berries, loose-clusters, and high acid levels are appealing to an increasing number of Virginia winegrowers. Consumers love the range of styles, from bone dry to off dry to unctuous sweet, and the versatility with food. Horton Vineyards 2015 Petit Manseng, $25: A delicious and versatile wine perfect for a range of holiday dishes made from some of the oldest Petit Manseng wines in the state. Bright golden color in the glass, this wine offers aromas of pineapple, toasted hazelnuts, lemon, and hints of honey. Rich and dry, flavors of honey, grilled pineapple, and mango with racy acidity, a hallmark of Virginia’s expression of Petit Manseng. Petit Manseng ages beautifully, so look for older vintages from Horton. A number of other notable Virginia producers like Jeff White and Glen Manor Vineyards, Michael Shaps of Shaps Wineworks, Jim Dolphin of Delaplane Cellars, and Matthew Meyer of Williamsburg Winery, are producing excellent varietal Petit Manseng wines.

Frank Morgan
Drink What YOU Like

Zinfandel

Thanksgiving is the most American of Holidays. Zinfandel, the most American of grape varieties is my choice to serve alongside the bounty that adorns the traditional Thanksgiving table. It’s supremely important however to choose your Zinfandel wisely. In this instance you want a classic Zinfandel that’s made in a proportionate style. It’ll be loaded with plenty of eager fruit flavors that will play well alongside Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and all the rest. Avoid big, overly jam-laden Zinfandels that are more like cocktails than wine. Dry Creek Valley is the region with the largest concentration of great Zinfandel in the world; pick your Thanksgiving Zinfandel from their abundance of Family producers. Puccioni 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel ($30): The heart of their Estate Vineyard is vines with more than 100 years of age on them. Puccioni is a genuinely boutique winery that is family owned and run. They produce just a few hundred cases each of two wines, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, both outstanding. Each vintage these wines (which were always delicious) have been getting better and better, the 2013 offerings continues that upward trend. Ripe black cherry and an abundance of spices dot the welcoming nose. The juicy palate shows off oodles of deep, dark flavors such as blackberry and black raspberry. Black pepper and wisps of black olive are present as well. All of those flavors continue on the lingering finish along with a dusting of dark chocolate. Well integrated tannins and firm acid provide terrific structure. This succulent, hard to resist Zinfandel is delicious now but don’t hesitate to lay it down for a decade. If you want to know what real Zinfandel tastes like, look no further than this beauty from Puccioni winemaker Glenn Proctor.

Gabe Sasso
Gabe’s View


Sauvignon Blanc

Choosing wines to serve with a Thanksgiving feast is frequently over-thought. To do it right, all you need: a lot of different foods, a lot of different wines, and a lot of different people. I have a massive extended family, and we rent out a firehouse for our Thanksgiving gathering, so I frequently open up a case of white wines (Rieslings, white Rhone blends, etc.). A refreshing, bright Sauvignon Blanc is always among them — tangy, zesty, citrus and herb-infused Sauv Blanc goes well with all sorts of salads, appetizers, even turkey and stuffing. One of the most reliable producers of delicious Virginia Sauvignon Blanc is Stinson Vineyards. Their 2015 Sauv Blanc ($25) is delicious, vibrant, full of apples and peaches and topped in sea salt and mountain stream mineral goodness. Pour a glass, fill up your plate with a little of everything, and enjoy!

Isaac James Baker
Reading, Writing & Wine


Gamay Noir

Maison B. Perraud Fleurie is a fantastic bottle of Gamay Noir to grace your Thanksgiving meal--bold, elegant and lyrical and binds together a great diversity of foods that you may serve at your table: Roasted turkey, pork, mushroom room gravy and stuffing. It is hard to find a bottle that pairs so many foods together and on my table I end up serving tamales (mild not hot--I can't eat hot food) and Gamay goes quite nicely with a tamale as well.

James Melendez
James the Wine Guy


Pinot Grigio

I honestly thought I would be writing about a sparkling wine here since I feel that they are the most versatile wines—they pair wonderfully with just about any type of cuisine. Instead, I have chosen a wine that I never thought I would ever write about in glowing terms: Pinot Grigio. Yes, Pinot Grigio. I have railed against the variety for years now as I find many wines made from the variety to be rather boring at best (and insipid on the other end of the scale). I have gone so far as to turn to beer when I see that the only white option at a party or wedding is Pinot Grigio. Recently, however, I have found a few that are actually quite good sharing a common thread—they come from Northern Italy, either Alto Adige or Trentino. At the top of my list is the 2015 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC. Normally, I would eschew wines of this ilk: high production, wide distribution, usually found on the bottom shelf in a supermarket, but I am smitten with this wine. Great fruit, tartness, and considerable depth, I would not hesitate to recommend this wine to anyone. The best and worst part about this wine? The price: $8. Why is that a bad thing? Frankly, people might lump it in with all the other wines in that price range, but they shouldn’t, this is a serious wine that you can buy by the case (and I do).

Jeffrey M. Kralik
The Drunken Cyclist

Pinot Noir

Last year, the most popular favorites of my five Thanksgiving Wine selections included a vinho verde, a rosé, and a cabernet franc! When asked for a single bottle to recommend for Thanksgiving, I prefer to suggest more than one bottle, and much depends on both who is attending the meal and what dishes are being served. But this question is posed to me continually from both the educated wine lovers and non-wine drinkers alike at an alarming rate at this time of year. So to complement Thanksgiving and our uniquely North American turkey, I suggest a gentle American wine that the entire table will adore: Cloudline Cellar’s 2014 Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, made by winemaker Veronique Drouhin with expertise and a distinctly classic style. Comprised of 100% pinot noir that is bright ruby red in color, it offers a floral nose with notes of black currants, dried fruit, vegetation and limestone. Dark red raspberry, plum and black cherries dominate the fruit profile. The wine shows wonderful balance, medium complexity and enough body to stand up to savory dark meat and stuffing while boasting enough acidity and tannins to cleanse the palate of tart cranberry sauce and juicy meats to leave the mouth refreshed. Easy to drink by itself, it can pair all day long with food and even with dessert! The wine is feminine and elegant with %13 ABV. This crowd-pleasing beauty is an ideal Thanksgiving selection that lists around $25, and can be found online for as low as $19/bottle. Shows best when slightly chilled before serving, I suggest you pop this in the fridge for ten minutes before opening and sharing at 60˚F/16˚C.

Jim van Bergen
JVB UNCORKED


Blanc de Noirs

When we were prompted to propose a single bottle that would pair with the greatest possible number of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, and be under $30, I immediately thought of Pinot Noir, kind of a classic. But….it’s been done a million times before, right? Right, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. So my suggestion is to go with the classic, but with a twist - make it bubbly! And why not serve one that it’s unlikely your guests have had. I’d suggest hunting down the Mawby Blanc de Noirs from Michigan. This multi-vintage blend is produced from pinot noir grapes from the Leelanau Peninsula, which are hand-harvested and whole-cluster pressed. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks the young wines are blended with older, reserve wines before being bottle fermented and then aged en tirage for a minimum of 24 months before disgorging. With aromas and flavors of almonds, orchard fruit, and yeast,  this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. At 0.8% RS, this wine will take you from hors d’oeuvres to dessert without skipping a beat. And, at $23, it won’t break the bank.

Kovas Palubinskas
50 States Of Wine


Grenache Blanc

Acquiesce Winery 2015 Grenache Blanc from Lodi, CA: A steal at $24, this lovely wine has textures and flavors that will harmonize with a broad selection of Thanksgiving dishes. It’s magic with avocado if you start with salad, handles spice well and has a hint of green apple, which is my stuffing’s secret ingredient. Sue Tipton, the owner and winemaker at Acquiesce Winery has an amazing gift for pairing food with wine and brings a gourmet sensibility to her wines. Inspired by Rhone varieties, she sourced vines from the famed Château de Beaucastel of Châteauneuf du Pape and cultivates them in the rich Lodi soil. Over the summer I had two opportunities to taste through her delicious wines with perfectly matched food and was thrilled to discover wines that paired spectacularly. My favorite is the Grenache Blanc, with its lovely minerality, interesting flavors and texture that holds its own with richer food. It comes in a specially designed and elegant bottle, which will grace your Thanksgiving table. Bring two bottles, one chilled and one for the hostess as a gift.  

Liza Swift
BrixChicks


Crémant d'Alsace Rosé

In our home I do the lion’s share of the cooking for Thanksgiving. I wish I could tell you I’ve it under control. You know, a bunch of “go-to” family favorites that have been tried, tested and found true over the years. I don’t. We’ve enjoyed a deboned turkey (the family is still talking about it – not a good thing) that looked like a duck. We’ve had deep fried turkey, smoked turkey, and any number of variations of oven-roasted turkey over the years. Candidly, I’m not looking forward to the hand-wringing associated with setting the menu. Then, they’re the wine. To a lesser degree it’s the same – decisions, decisions – with one exception. I do have a “go-to” wine. A sparkling roséwine makes it to our Thanksgiving table every year. They’re festive. They’re fun. They elevate a meal. And they are among the most versatile wines at the table. My current favorite under $20 sparkling rosé is Domaine Allimant-Laugner Crémant d'Alsace Rosé. Crémant d'Alsace is the French term for traditional-method sparkling wines made outside Champagne. It is France’s second-most popular sparkling wine in France (after Champagne). In the case of Crémant d’Alsace Rosé, the law requires it to be 100% Pinot Noir. The Domaine Allimant-Laugner is a pretty copper, salmon color with smallish bubbles and expressive melon, strawberry, citrus cream, and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and fresh with a delicate frothy mousse and ample strawberry and citrus flavors accented with kisses of white peach and mineral flavors. It’s a well-made sparkling rosé that offers surprising finesse and character for the price.

Martin Redmond
ENOFYLZ Wine Blog

Rosé

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to celebrate our blessings with family and friends. It is also a day that centers around a complex meal with a wide variety of flavors and textures. Due to the uniqueness of this joyful day and the mosaic nature of the meal it is important to plan wine pairings in advance. More than one wine is required for a successful Thanksgiving food and wine pairing; however, there are a couple of wines diverse enough to weave a common thread through the meal. One such wine is Provençale rosé. It is widely known Provence sets the gold standard for rosé. However, on a recent trip to Provence I made a new and delicious discovery: oak aged rosé. One such oak aged rosé that is perfect for brining cohesion to the tapestry of Thanksgiving is 2015 Chateau Bas Le Temple Rosé Coteaux D’Aix en Provence ($20). Crafted of 80% Mouvèdre and 20% Rolle, this wine offers notes of fresh red berries with soft notes of spice, it is crisp and round on the palate with a depth of richness and texture developed through the time it spent in French oak barrels. A perfectly structured wine with bright acidity and an added complexity that further expands the possibilities of an already food friendly wine. This wine has an aging potential of ten years or more; evolving into a mandarin, caramel, holiday spice, dried fig wine over time. Recommendation: buy a case and enjoy each Thanksgiving with this beautiful rosé as it evolves over time.

Michelle Williams
Rockin Red Blog

Cinsault

Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault will pair beautifully with your Thanksgiving feast. So much food, only one wine. How is it possible to choose just one wine that will pair with the variety of food on most Thanksgiving tables? Both white and dark meat from the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, veggies, and maybe even the much-maligned Jello salad will be part of our Thanksgiving feast. I want a red wine with the bright fruit flavors of berries, ripe cherries and spice. It must have depth of flavor, but it can’t be too ripe. I want the flavors of the wine to support the flavors of the meal not overwhelm them. I want the wine to have a light to medium body, well-integrated tannins and juicy acidity. Palate-cleansing acidity is a must to cut the richness of the meal. This past August I tasted the wine I describe above. I was standing in the ancient Bechthold Vineyard in Lodi, California with a group of wine bloggers. Winemaker Jillian Johnson, barely as tall as some of the Cinsault vines that were planted in 1886 by Joseph Spenker, spoke eloquently about her interpretation of the vineyard through her wines. She succeeds brilliantly with her Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault. It is bright, flavorful and well balanced. The 2012 vintage is available directly from Onesta or the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center. For $29 per bottle you can taste Lodi wine history and have the perfect glass of wine to complement your Thanksgiving feast. Enjoy!

Nancy Brazil
Pull that Cork

Cinsault

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is few days away; the California Indian Summer has given way to cooler weather and shorter days. The cooler weather makes me reach for richer red wines more often, and when thinking of what to pair with your Thanksgiving menu, think Cinsault. While the classic pairings of Pinot Noir and Chardnonay are always popular with turkey and ham, the earthy, herbal structure of a Cinsault with it’s bright cherry and strawberry mid palate is a great alternative. Cinsault, one of the lesser known French varietals, is probably better known as one of the parents of Pinotage, but it also has a long and storied history here in California’s Lodi region. The 130 year Bechtolhd Vineyard has been growing what was once known as“Black Malvoisie” since 1886, and one of my favorite wines from this vineyard is the 2012 Onesta Cinsault. With extended maceration and 9 months in neutral oak, this beauty is a berry pie with a topper of pomegranate juice. A lighter style of Cinsault, the delicate wine is luscious and fruit forward, yet full of baking spice and acid. This is the perfect wine to please both a Pinot and a Zin lover., and at $29, is wallet friendly as well. Light enough for white meat, but with enough earth and herbal minerality to stand up to oyster stuffing, this Cinsault is sure to please even the pickiest palate.

Thea Dwelle
Luscious Lushes Wine Blog

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Comments

  • Snooth User: RCAgness
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2107355 10

    Riesling

    With one shopping day until Thanksgiving, you will have just enough time to shop by your favorite Wine Store and pick up what will be a treat for all sharing the meal at the family table when deciding among the choices on the wall of wine.
    I have a local bias being in the Finger Lakes region of New York where the minerality of Dry Riesling are delightful and delicious and for under $30 / 750 ml bottle, I'll put forward Ravines Wine Cellars 2014 Dry Riesling which will balance the savory of the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner menu with outstanding crisp acidity, unique and elegant expression of the brilliant Finger Lakes terroir. The bouquet of the wine is delicate with intricate aromas of white flowers mingled with pear, apple and citrus notes. Aging on the fine lees results in this gentle and desired round texture.
    And with general availability along the Eastern Seaboard, Morten and Lisa Hallgren wines are among the best in the world, yet at an affordable price especially for such a special event with family and friends. You may pop the cork on several selections to pair with each course, but this one will disappear before the second helpings are served.

    Randy Agness
    Finger Lakes Wine Journalist & Columnist

    Nov 23, 2016 at 2:03 PM


  • Snooth User: Dezel Quillen
    Hand of Snooth
    266389 11

    Excellent choice, RCAgness … we always have some Riesling on the table. Cheers!

    Nov 23, 2016 at 8:35 PM


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