Thanksgiving wines

Where did the year go? It's Thanksgiving already, and time to figure out what wines I want to share at our Thanksgiving dinner. A year ago, I wrote about the difficulty in doing a "perfect pairing" with the dinner. There are so many components, and different family traditions that it would be impossible for me to give you the perfect wine to pair with your meal. This year, I'm going to break my own rules, and actually offer up some wines that I think work with all types of Thanksgiving meals.

Remember out basic "rules" for wine pairing: consider the most prominent flavors in your meal; the weight of the meal; and finally, what wines will your guests enjoy.

There are a number of white wines that work with Turkey, and all the trimmings. Probably the most common would be Chardonnay. I find that those that are heavy on the oak, detract from the meal, so look for stainless steel fermentation, or lightly oaked. Personally, I like to serve something a little out of the ordinary, rather than Chardonnay. My first choice would be a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. On the lighter side, a Pinot Gris (Grigio) might be something to look at. For those that like Chardonnay...try a Viognier instead. If you are really daring, I love Italian Falanghina. All of these are getting easier to find in your local wine shop.

Some of my favorites:
Dragonette Cellars Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (The best Sauvignon Blanc in California).
Dr Hermann 2008 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett (the best value in German Riesling I have found)
Trimbach Riesling
Cantina Del Taburno 2010 Falanghina
Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris 2009 (from Alsace, France)

Red wine is a little harder to pair with Turkey, but when you add cranberries, nuts, and sausage stuffing, red might just be the go to wine. Most people might run right to the Merlot (and a fruitier version might work), but I think Pinot Noir would be a better choice, as would Zinfandel. Want to try something different? How about an Italian Barbera, or a French Beaujolais? You do know that the Beaujolais Nouveau came out last week, don't you? I'm not a big fan of the nouveau version, but a Beaujolais Village (Morgon, or Moulin-a-vent) would be a great addition.

Some of my favorites:
Duboeuf 2009 Jean Descombes Morgon (Gamay from France)
Dragonette Cellars Cargassachi Jalama Pinot Noir 2008
Ampelos Rho Pinot Noir 2008
Windward Monopole Pinot Noir 2008
Palmina Barbera
Tobin James Zinfandel (I like Fat Boy, or Dusi Vineyards)
Kunde Old Vine Zinfandel

Of course, if you can't decide between red or white, go with Rose or even a Sparkling wine. I love the roses' that are coming out now. They are dry, and full of fruit (not like your parents' white zinfandel). Sparkling wine doesn't have to be an expensive Champagne...look for a Spanish Cava, or (surprise) a New Mexico sparkler from Gruet (believe me, you'll be surprised). For rose, I love the wines coming out of Southern France. If you can find it, try the Domaine Tempier. If you want to stay state-side, check out Dragonette Cellars Rose of Pinot Noir (stunning), or Foley Rose.

I asked my friend, Brandon Sparks-Gillis (winemaker at Dragonette Cellars) what wines he would serve. Here is his response, "I love Rose w/ Thanksgiving because it works so well w/ anything on the table. Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc ('09 or '10) has the body to pair remarkably well w/ turkey, and pretty much everything else. Our Pinots...ditto...I'd go for the 08's if you have any, or decant the 09 Fiddlestix for an hour or so. The surprise might be the 09 Grenache. It's got earth and spice that complement the fall flavors, and it's killer w/ cranberries and pumpkin pie. Have a great Thanksgiving, and let us know what pairings you find!"

Jim Newcomb & Brandon Sparks-Gillis
I hope that whatever wine you choose, you don't fret over it. It is more important to share time with your family and friends, than to worry about the wine. Have some fun. Experiment. Try something new, and share your best pairings, by adding your comments below. I am thankful for those of you who have been following this blog, and sharing it with your friends. I am thankful for those that keep voting for my blog (see the vote here link at the upper right of the page),,,you have moved my blog into the top 130 wine blogs in the country. Keep it going, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Hi Jim,
    If I hadn't already purchased a Pinot for Thanksgiving, I would try another of your suggestions. What a great website for those of us who love wine and are growing in our understanding of what's "good" (or at least what we like!). Thanks!

  2. Thanks Teri. I hope you'll continue to visit the site, add comments, and share in the discussion. Happy Thanksgiving!