Friday, November 5, 2010


Some of the most challenging wine questions we get every year have to do with Thanksgiving, here are some strategies that can make your holiday meal more successful.

1. Drink American. Many folks think that this classic American holiday deserves a homegrown wine and that's a great idea! Excellent choices are Pinot Noir, Gamay, Oregon Pinot Gris, or something unique like the Heitz Grignolino. One tip to mention, although Zinfandel is considered the quintessential American grape, I find that heavily extracted and alcoholic Zins are not the best match for the gobbler on Turkey Day so I usually go in another direction.

2. Match your side dishes. Thanksgiving is a big meal with lots of different flavors and rather than matching the bird, one way to play it is to pick wines that match your various side dishes. If you are doing sausage/cornbread or giblet stuffing you may want a medium bodied red, if it's oyster stuffing you might want to think about a rich white wine.

3. Cranberry sauce? Tart and refreshing, the acidity in cranberry sauce is a palate cleansing foil to all the different foods on the table and wine can play the same role. Try flexible and food friendly reds with good acidity like Gamay (Beaujolais), Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc in the Loire style, and Merlot/Cab Franc blends like Petit Chateau Bordeaux.

4. White wine, really? Emphatically yes! Poultry and a full-bodied white is a classic match so it's an excellent opportunity to have something like a big Pinot Gris or a white Rhone varietal on the table.

5. Don't worry, serve several wines. Thanksgiving is a big meal and if you have several guests it's enjoyable to have some different wines on the table. Experiment, relax, and have fun!

6. Don't forget the dessert wine. Pumpkin pie, earthy and sweet with baking spices, is awesome with a little glass of unctuous dessert wine, vin doux natural, or sweet sherry.

7. A sample domestic wine menu for Thanksgiving. Mine would look something like this:

Appetizer: Gruet Brut or Rose Sparkling wine.
First Course (at my house it's pumpkin soup): Heitz Grignolino
Main Course (Turkey and sides): Lineshack Roussanne, Coleman Pinot Gris, A domestic Pinot Noir like Ravines, Brooks, Clos Julien, Bergstrom, Taft Street.
Dessert wine (not domestic): Schloss Muhlenhof Siegerrebe Beerenauslese, Domaine Rectorie Banyuls, Gran Barquero Sherry

Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Nice post!! I am really happy to see this awesome post here. Thanks for sharing these ideas for making thanksgiving a successful one. Want to arrange something really amazing on this upcoming thanksgiving at LA venues. Hope will be able to make it a fun day.

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