The likability of traditional Thanksgiving fare (who doesn’t like Thanksgiving food?) means the holiday meal is easy to pair with wines.
When talking about wine pairing, I prefer to underscore what doesn’t pair very well — oaky reds or whites, big reds such as zinfandel, tannic wines such as cabernet sauvignon and young red blends.
One of the things to consider is the audience. Are the dinner guests serious wine drinkers looking for an experience? Or are they occasional wine drinkers who may find straightforward wine just as enjoyable?
Starting with the white, gewürztraminer has been talked about as the turkey wine. It’s easy for Gewürztraminer to be a spicy, oily caricature of itself, but not Dr. Konstantin Frank 2017 Finger Lakes Gerwurtraminer. This elegant wine smells of orange blossoms and vanilla, and is silky along the palate with a touch of apricot and spice. $19. ★★★★ 1/2
If gewürztraminer is a bridge too far, a dry or semi-dry riesling is an excellent, accessible choice. After that, just about any white will work.
Rosé, meanwhile, goes with everything. Charles & Charles 2017 Riesling Yakima Valley Washington is juicy with tastes of fresh apples and white peach. It makes for an affordable, straightforward, off-dry rosé. $13. ★★★ 1/2
Just because poultry is a white meat doesn’t meant you are limited to a white wine. The Thanksgiving bird and the meal fixings are hearty and savory enough to invite a light red wine such as pinot noir, sangiovese or gamay (Beaujolais).
A classy pinot noir with a savory oomph, J. Wilkes 2017 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir offers an earthy cherry, pepper, sage and violets. $17. ★★★★
With Thanksgiving being an American holiday, I lean heavily toward American-made wines. One exception may be Beaujolais, but rather than Beaujolais Nouveau, I suggest the more Burgundian-like cru Beaujolais.
One of these is Domain des Rosiers 2016 Moulin-a-Vent, which shows floral smells with cranberry and flower blossoms with an earthiness and medium-tannin finish. $23. ★★★★ 1/2
When counting bottles, remember that a bottle has four glasses. Consider how much your family members will drink. No judgements.
GRADE: Exceptional ★★★★★, Above average ★★★★, Good ★★★, Below average ★★, Poor ★.