The traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and all its accompaniments makes for interesting, if not challenging, wine pairings. The lean turkey breast meat suggests something white, while the richer dark meat can handle something red. Then add side dishes including the myriad possibilities of stuffing from oysters to sausage to apples, creamy mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes in all their incarnations, and tart cranberry sauce and, well, it’s a bit of a toss up wine wise, unless you want to do a course-by-course pairing, which is not really in the spirit of Thanksgiving. So I suggest having a variety of wines available to pour, because Thanksgiving is more about the food, isn’t it? Wine is more like a side dish for this meal, so enjoy whatever you like. Here are some you may want to consider at your table:
Belle Glos “Meiomi” Pinot Noir 2012 ($22). No thanksgiving meal would be complete without a reliable Pinot. This crowd pleaser, made from Sonoma, Monterey, and Santa Barbara grapes is rich and full of berry and vanilla notes. It not only pairs well with food, it’s also a great sipping wine. The first time I tasted this wine, I wanted to grab the bottle and run — it was that good.
Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Riesling 2012 ($15). Before you go all “eww, way too sweet,” this Riesling is not only slightly off-dry, it’s a great sipping wine and a nice white wine alternative, with enough crisp acidity to cut all that cream, butter, and fat at your Thanksgiving table. Fess also makes a 2012 Rodney’s Vineyard Dry Riesling ($24) that’s even more off-dry, which the Wine Enthusiast calls “a beautiful Riesling.”
Hartford Family Win-ery Highwire Vineyard Zinfandel 2011 ($55). If you’re one of those who consider Zin to be the Thanksgiving wine, this is for you. Wines from this vineyard have consistently yielded “outstanding” vintages rated 90-plus points from industry reviewers. Its concentrated berry aromas and allspice flavors will not only get you in a fall mood, but also will complement those fall-spiced dishes and that rich dark-meat turkey.
Laetitia Vineyard & Winery Brut Rose 2011 ($30). Champagne is always a great choice because it goes with everything, and you can’t get more festive than Champagne or that popping cork. This Central Coast Arroyo Grande Valley appellation bubbly is made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes and is aged in mature French barrels. Its beautiful coppery blush color is sure to make it the prettiest pour at the table, and the “notes of freshly baked brioche” from full malolactic fermentation will ensure the bottle won’t last long.
Sonoma-Loeb Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($18). This “wild white” wine is crisp and clean, with aromas and flavors of citrus, apples and other fruit. The majority of the wine is fermented in neutral French oak barrels, which makes it a little more interesting and complex than all-stainless Sauv Blancs, but there’s still enough acidity to complement a variety of foods.
And don’t forget the Chardonnay, the Merlot or the Malbec, or whatever else you like!