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Stop Thinking! Start Drinking! A Guide to Thanksgiving Wine Pairings (The Gobbler Guzzlers)

Gretchen Skedsvold

You spent 20 minutes orbiting the grocery store parking lot for a spot, braved the throngs of people at the meat counter and the check-out line and secured all your food. Then it dawned on you have under 48 hours to game-time and have no idea what wines to serve? Fret not! While you were in the parking lot uttering four-letter words at that lady who stole your spot we were thinking about the perfect wines to pair with your stuffing, your potatoes, your turkey and your aunt’s Jell-O salad. Just don’t expect something that goes with Cool Whip.

Stuffing (your face)

Whether you’re stuffing the bird or your face you’ll need something special to wash everything down with. We would understand if you finished these bottles before you even get to the table. 

Chateau Teulon White $11.99
This white wine is 100% Roussanne, clear yellow in color with floral aromas and citrusy notes of lemon and mineral notes of wet rock and hints of lemon peel and fresh lime on the palate. Its mineral and citrusy notes pair well with the aromatic herbs in stuffing and the citrus in your turkey brine. Phillipe Teulon is the 7th generation grower at Chateau Teulon, an estate established in 1696 in the village of Saint Gilles, in the Rhône Valley appellation of Costières de Nimes. Phillipe hand harvests, uses only organic herbicides, no pesticides and employs other environmentally sustainable agricultural practices. 

Domaine Phillipe Gilbert Menetou-Salon Sauvignon Blanc $27.99
Ah the light refreshing minerality and acidity of a good Sauvignon blanc! A divisive varietal – some are tired of this popular grape while others cannot get enough. This is the wine that will leave everyone happy. It comes from the region adjacent to Sancerre – arguably one of Sauvignon blanc’s most celebrated and coveted appellations – so the terroir and taste is similar but with a lower price. Crisp pear and citrus on the nose; this is a light bright wine with just a touch of funk to keep things interesting. Drink with an oyster stuffing! Yum!

Donkey and Goat “Sluice Box” $24.99
Donkey and Goat produces natural wines with organic and biodynamic grapes. The Sluice box is a Rhone-inspired blend of Grenache blanc, Vermentino, Marsanne and Picpoul. It is nutty, citrusy, mineral and complex.  Some of the grape juice has skin contact which gives the wine texture and structure – almost like a red.  It is tangy and tannic so it will stand up to stuffings that are heavy on sausages and meat. 

Enderle & Moll Liaison Pinot Noir $39.99
This is beautiful, vibrant, old-vine Pinot noir grown on the edge of the Black Forest. It’ll go with any giblets, bacon & mushrooms in the stuffing and the gravy you’ll douse over it. Works nicely with the herbs thyme, sage and rosemary too.

Marie-Courtin Résonance Champagne $58.99
Some (us included) would say you should serve sparkling wine through the whole Thanksgiving meal. Bubbles pair with nearly everything. The toasty, briochiness of bubblies like the Marie-Courtin Résonance Champagne (a Blanc de Noir made from Pinot noir grapes) marries with the bread in stuffing and the butter on, well, almost everything. The fizz cleanses palates of butter and fat and wipes the slate clean for another indulgent bite. Not everyone wants to bankroll fancy bubbles for their 20-odd guests, we get it. But just in case you do want to go the all-bubbles route we’ve included a sparkling option for each dish. 

P.S. If you want to pull out all the stops (cue Napoleonic march), pair your stuffing with the Bérêche Reflet d’Antan, a nutty, rich, oxidative champagne that will make you feel like a bazillion bucks. If I disappear during the Thanksgiving meal check for me under the kids’ table with a giant plate of stuffing & mashed potatoes and a bottle of this in hand.

Cranberry sauce

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without a side of cranberry sauce. While it may seem heavy handed to give this its own paring section many of these wines would also work for dessert pairings or as an aperitif. 

Aphros “Pan” Sparkling Rosé $24.99
This sparkling Portuguese rosé is made from 100% Vinhão, a native varietal known as Sousón in Spain. It has a vivid pink color with a firm bubble and Thanksgiving flavors: cranberry, tart cherry, and orange zest. Sounds just like a cranberry sauce! This wine is a fantastic choice for any pairing at the Thanksgiving table and the bubbles will make you feel extra festive! You might even finish the bottle before you get to the table. 

Brooks “Sweet P” Riesling $21.99
Contrary to the name, this wine is not all that sweet! It does, however, have enough residual sugar to tone down the bitter sour cranberries (depending on how much sugar gets added to your sauce). Sweet P is herbaceous and lightly sweet with notes of ripe cantaloupe and green vegetables. It’s also a good wine to pair with salads, greens, or a root vegetable dish!
    
Chateau Tour Grise “Ze Bulle” Rosé of Cabernet franc $19.99
The "Ze Bulle" Cabernet franc is a playful, light sparkling wine. It is slightly effervescent and has notes of strawberry and raspberry with the earthiness of a Cabernet franc. This is a biodynamic wine, which gives it character and pedigree – perfect for the gourmand at the table. Though cranberry sauce is a great accompaniment it would shine as an aperitif with cheese and pâté before the meal. If you plan on a light dessert of berries or a fruit tart or even the inevitable Jell-O mold this would be a great companion. 

Mashed potatoes

Creamy, rich, buttery – mashed potatoes need some nice acid to cut through all of that lactose goodness. Funny how we chose almost all French whites…

Jean Perrier et Fils Savoie Abymes Jacquere $11.99
Savoie is located in southeastern France in the French Alps bordering Italy. Jacquere is an obscure varietal grown primarily in the region since it is adapted to the cool mountainous climate. It produces light, dry white wines that would typically accompany a fondue or other regional fare. Like cheese fondue, mashed potatoes are rich and require a wine with acid to balance the dish. It’s also a great choice for turkey because it is light and neutral. And for the price you can afford to have a couple rounds! 

Szigeti Blanc de Blancs $21.99
Crisp, dry, apple-y, peachy sparkling Austrian Chardonnay that even has a little bit of tropical fruitiness, but it’s balanced out by a good amount of acidity. Enjoy as an aperitif or with toasty cheesy potatoes au gratin.

Jean Manciat Franclieu Mâcon-Charnay Chardonnay $19.99
This Chardonnay comes from Burgundy, one of France’s top Chardonnay producing regions. It is an extremely well balanced, medium bodied wine with a crisp finish, a fruity nose, and a touch of sweetness to balance out rich and savory mashed potatoes. It is a quaffable, approachable wine and a fantastic value for the dollar! 

Frank Peillot Roussette du Bugey Montagnieu Altesse $24.99
Altesse is a white wine variety from the little known region of Bugey. Though it is located at the southern tip of the Jura mountains it is closer both in distance and in style to its neighbor Savoie (see above for more details). This Altesse has the autumnal aromas of orchard fruits and their flowers with a wonderful stone and mineral palette that reflects the limestone terroir. Its long finish is sure to make you linger before you shovel another spoonful of gravy-laden potatoes in your mouth.  

Green vegetables

This section is dedicated to all of the glorious greens used to justify your gluttonous overeating. Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, green salad, and, yes, green bean casserole – though that dish is relatively indulgent too. 

Sélections des Cognettes Muscadet Sevre et Maine $11.99
Not to be mistaken for Moscato (but possibly taking its name from noix de muscade, the French word for nutmeg which the Dutch used to spice the cheap fortified wine once made in the region) Muscadet is a dry white wine produced at the westernmost end of France’s Loire Valley. It is made with Melon De Bourgogne grapes. Muscadets are light and dry with very little residual sugar. They often have a brininess and salinity making them a great pairing for seafood as well (if someone in your family makes an oyster stuffing this would be a great wine to serve with it). This is an affordable introduction to the grape and is a nice alternative for any Sauvignon blanc drinkers at the table. This creamy, citrusy Muscadet has and a clean dry finish and notes of melon. It will be a solid accompaniment to your salads and greens. 

Envidiacochina Albariño $19.99
This is a mineral, saline wine with fantastic acidity. The brine and white flowers on the nose will make you salivate. It has tongue tingle, almost to the point of effervescence (as is often the case with Albariños) and a long finish with a touch of bitterness. The acidity and brininess make it a great compliment for an array of green vegetables and it can stand up to the rich, mushroomy green bean casserole. 

Yves Cuilleron Sybel Rosé of Syrah $19.99
We brought in this rosé with Thanksgiving in mind. It is a richer, fuller bodied rosé with light acid and a touch of pepper. The body and rich fruit flavors make this a flexible pairing wine and great with turkey! Come try for yourself at our tasting this Wednesday from 3pm-5pm. We will be pouring three wines for your gustatory pleasure and have plenty of other suggestions that will help you feel more prepared for the holiday.

Lambert de Seyssel Méthode Traditionnelle “Petit Royal” $21.99
Delicate feminine bubbly with ripe pear notes and soft dry finish. Enough fruit to balance its acid and pair with green veggies and any fruit that might end up in your salad. Made from the obscure Molette grape (70% to be exact), with the balance Altesse. Kermit Lynch says of the appellation of Seyssel, “[it] may be unknown to many oenophiles today, but the vineyards of this small appellation are regularly mentioned in documents dating back to at least the 11th century, and with the development of sparkling wine production methods in the 19th century a new Seyssel mousseux was created that quickly gained great popularity.”

Julien Pineau Sauvignon Blanc $26.99
Julien Pineau and his partner Laurent Saillard recently purchased the land of the famed “Clos Roche Blanche” vineyards. The vineyard is located in the Touraine hills on the Cher River in the Loire valley and has a clay and limestone soil. Following their tradition of low manipulation and organic farming, there is no sulfur added to this Sauvignon blanc. The result is a wine that is a true expression of the varietal where citrus reigns supreme. The evocation of lemon makes it a great accompaniment to any green vegetable and the low intervention gives it a complexity and slight funk that can stand up to Brussels sprout or a rich mushroom cream sauce. It is such a cool wine and not to be missed! 

Sweet potatoes

Sweating the sweet potato pairing? We already wrote up six ideas last week! Read more here.

The Bird is the Word

The turkey may be the most difficult Thanksgiving dish to pair with wine. There's no fast rule of red or white - we know of reds that taste flabby with turkey and whites that bring out the poultry equivalent of fishiness we find unique to this avian protein. We have a wide array of suggestions for a wide array of wine drinkers that would pair well with the bird and your other Thanksgiving accompaniments. We have great wines for your most adventurous and most conservative guests!

Denavolo Catavela and Dinavalo (orange wines), $18.99 & $29.99
An orange wine is a white wine that has had some contact with the grape skin during maceration. Typically, skins are removed right away and the juice is moved into a container to ferment but contact with the skin can give the wine a unique character as the skins contain phenols and tannins. This process changes the wine's flavor and structure along with the color. We carry two orange wines from northwestern Italian wine producer Denavolo, both of which would be great options to pair with your turkey…for your more adventurous guest. The Catevela is grown on young vines in chalky soil. It sees little skin contact  (only four days) and is light and refreshing with notes of orange blossom and a mineral finish. The Dinavolo is its more tannic, darker extracted, and bitter counterpart. It is a structured wine that is ideal for rich meals. We would highly recommend it for your feast of feasts. 

Broc Cellars White Zinfandel $24.99
We couldn’t resist adding a White Zinfandel, perhaps the worst of bad Thanksgiving wine clichés, to our list. I think of White Zinfandel and remember my grandmother pouring the first of what would turn into several glasses of the cloyingly sweet pink stuff from a magnum of Sutter Home into a very small wine glass. The thing is this White Zinfandel is one of the most delicious dry rosés we know, making the label feel like a tongue-in-cheek reference. Rosé and turkey all the way.

Pullus Pinot Grigio $16.99
Ptujska Klet (the winery that produces Pullus) is the oldest winery in Slovenia. Its cellar dates back to 1239. Some mistake this Pinot grigio from Slovenia as a rosé but it is 100% Pinot grigio. The wine sees skin contact during fermentation, which gives it a delicate pink color. This light, approachable wine smells like peaches and white flowers, has a mineral palate, and finishes clean and dry. A turkey breast smothered in gravy with a dollop of potatoes and a dab of cranberry would be just right washed down with this wine.  

Sherry of any kind! 
Why complicate things? Just drink sherry all day! For more on sherry and its toasty, nutty goodness please see our post on aperitifs and digestifs

Nicole Chanrion Effervescence $29.99
Nicole Chanrion, who grew up in Beaujolais, defied the expectations of her family and culture and became a winemaker. She is now well respected and accomplished in her profession and makes distinctive wines using traditional methods. Her sparkling Gamay is made using the method champenoise. It is herbaceous, dusty, with a mixture of red fruits and apricots. It is slightly bitter, with medium acidity and a long finish. This choice is a great alternative to a classic Beaujolais (though her Côte-de-Brouilly wouldn’t be a bad choice either). 

Domaine des Terres Dorées (Jean-Paul Brun) Beaujolais Nouveau $16.99
Beaujolais nouveau is a wine produced with 100% Gamay, aged for just a few weeks, and served just in time to celebrate the harvest! People often look down on Beaujolais nouveau because it is thought of as overly fruity and unsophisticated, a victim of poor production and marketing hype. Sadly, some associate this with all wines from Beaujolais! As a general rule, Beaujolais is a great Thanksgiving wine because it is light and fruity but not overpowering. Beaujolais nouveau is often dismissed. But please, reconsider! This wine may surprise you! Jean-Paul Brun is using all native yeasts for his wine and it has surprising maturity for a wine that is aged for such a short time. It is vibrant, light bodied, with red fruits and soft tannins. It has a slight tingle to your tongue and a tongue smacking acidity. This wine can stand up to the dark meat on your drumstick without overwhelming your bird. It would also be a great lunch wine for your leftover turkey sandwich/pile.  And you can even use it to make your cranberry sauce or marinate some fruit for dessert.

Pie time

As if your pie hole hasn’t had enough – it’s time for pie! We picked a mix of traditional and surprising. Keep your guests guessing! Dessert at Thanksgiving is generally a smorgasbord of pies. Port and Sherry are classic Thanksgiving dessert wines and while we stand behind them as a great choice to end your meal we decided to offer some alternatives that are often overlooked but well worthy of a special occasion. 

Milk and Honey “Alchemy” Ice Cider $18.99
Milk and Honey’s “Alchemy” is an ice cider – a dessert wine made from pressed apples. This is a perfect domestic option and one that is approachable for guests that are apprehensive about imbibing wine (oh well! more wine for you!). Alchemy is made from chestnut crab apples. Once pressed, the cider ages for 8 months in Bourbon barrels, giving it a hint of vanilla. This is sweet, a little funky, and complex. If you’re not careful you may end up like the rat in Fantastic Mr. Fox

La Stoppa Emilia Romagna Dolce Frizzante Malvasia $19.99
This is a sparkling, semi-sweet white wine with low alcohol content (in case one or more of your guests has already had enough). Though this is not traditionally a dessert wine it would pair beautifully with apple pie, baked pears, or a fruit tart. It is floral and fruity with a subtle acidity like a ripe pear and a great choice for guests who are leery about viscous, overly sweet dessert wines. 

Jean Bourdy Macvin $36.99
If you are looking for something extra special to end the meal with try Jean Bourdy’s Macvin du Jura. Located between Burgundy and Switzerland, the Jura is considered one of France’s most distinctive wine regions and Jean Bourdy has a long (like 14 generations long) familial tradition of making wines in the region. This classic Jura wine is made with grapes harvested late in the season when their sugar content is highest. Grape must (pressed from Chardonnay, Savagnin, Pinot Noir, Trousseau and Poulsard) is aged for twelve months in oak barrels at which point marc (a type of locally made eau de vie) is added to fortify the wine. The result is a honeyed, luxurious, slightly spiced and sweet wine - a great accompaniment to a pecan or pumpkin pie.