It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but that is indeed the case. There’s a lot of hype out there on what wines you should serve with your Thanksgiving meal. Some wine retailers will use this as an excuse to move some wines that have been sitting around too long in their inventory or as an opportunity to make a “profound” statement on how some obscure varietal makes the best pairing with your turkey. WWG is here to give it to you straight about what wines to load up on for Thanksgiving.
First things first, if you’re going to serve white wine it really should be Riesling. I know all the Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc fans are rolling their eyes right now, but it’s the truth. Nothing lends itself to the flavors and texture of a bird the way Riesling does. Just because its Riesling doesn’t mean it has to be sweet. Look for any German Riesling from the Mosel area with the term trocken (meaning dry) on the label to avoid the sweet stuff. Riesling also works wonderfully for all the pre game appetizers before the feast begins. Below are my 2 choices, one as the value pick and the other for the big spenders.
Value (Under $15) – 2010 Pacific Rim Riesling Columbia Valley,WA– #1 Wine Enthusiast Best Buy of the Year… can find it under $10 at certain locations.
Top Choice – 2009 J.J. Prum Bernkasteler Badstube Spatlese – With the grapes picked a little later in the season, this will be mildly sweet and extremely food friendly. Should run around $35-40.
The two types of red wine I would recommend serving on Thanksgiving are Pinot Noir and Zinfandel…NOT the pink stuff. Pinot always makes a fantastic accompaniment to any poultry dish, with turkey possibly being its most desirable mate. The cherry fruit and acidic backbone allow the food to take center stage while accentuating all the spices and nuances. If you are going all red for the day, you may want to serve the Pinot with the apps and move on to the bigger Zins for the main course. Check out my 2 picks below.
Value (Under $15) – 2009 Castle Rock Pinot Noir Mendocino County, CA – 2009 was an epic vintage in all of CA for Pinot…tough to beat this one for the price.
Top Choice – 2009 Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Reserve Russian River Valley, CA – Rodney Strong is one of my favorite Vineyards in all of CA, and this is one of the best efforts they have put out… EVER!! Available for around $35 and worth every penny.
Last but certainly not least is the classic Thanksgiving pairing… Zinfandel. All you ZinHeads out there already know this, but the berry fruit and spice of Zin allow all the wonderful flavors of your juicy bird, mashed potatoes, sausage stuffing and all the trimmings to gain complexity and intensity over the course of the meal. The great part about Zin is there are A LOT of quality options out there for around $15-20. Just make sure it is from Dry Creek, Napa, Amador or Lodi and it’s hard to go wrong. Top picks are:
Value (Under $15) – 2007 Terra D’Oro Zinfandel Amador, CA – Black fruit, chocolate and gripping yet smooth tannins make this my favorite value Zin of the Year!
Top Choice – The Prisoner by Orin Swift (Any Vintage) Napa Valley, CA– Year in and year out this Zinfandel blend never disappoints. With a good amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah and a couple of other varietals blended in, it combines power and finesse. Just be sure to let it breathe about an hour before serving. It’s widely available anywhere from $27-35.
My final comment is this: If you don’t like Riesling, Pinot Noir or Zinfandel then you should ignore this entire post. Thanksgiving is a holiday to be shared with loved ones, to give thanks for all that you have and to enjoy a hearty (possibly hedonistic) meal. So drink whatever makes you happy alongside that overstuffed bird and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!