Joe Riley

Thanksgiving Wines

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More Americans buy wine for their Thanksgiving holiday dinner than at any other time of the year. Some people only DRINK wine at occasions such as this. So at the risk of appearing incredibly self-serving, here are my thoughts on pairing wine with the all-American Thanksgiving dinner.

The traditional Thanksgiving dinner is a cornucopia of big flavored food, sometimes warring with each other, but all jockeying for prominence on the palate. The wine you serve should have enough fruit and flavor to not get lost in this gastronomical mêlée, and should harmonize with the food and make it taste more interesting. While many wines will work with turkey and mashed potatoes, for a terrific pairing, follow the clues in the stuffing: Try soft, supple pinot noir with smoky, dried-cherry flavors to highlight stuffings containing dried fruit. Spicy sausage calls for zinfandel (the REAL stuff, not “white”). Pacific northwest Pinot Gris (Oregon, Washington) is a nice pairing with oyster dressing.

Our first choice is a west coast Pinot Noir, for several reasons, but we always recommend red wine first because:

1) Since Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday, we feel it should be celebrated with American wine.

2) Because most white wines don’t have enough acidity for white meat, and because of the abundance of strong flavors, red wine is the preferred choice for a “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner, though certainly not the only one.

3) Pinot Noir is, quite possibly, the most silky and supple of all red varieties, as it has good acidity (acidity being the lynchpin when it comes to balancing the flavors of all components from stuffing to cranberry sauce)

4) Syrah is as versatile as it is pretty. With lots of assertive flavors, including blue and black fruits, spice and, sometimes, profoundly earthy, it can more than hold it’s own with all the flavorful bounty of a Thanksgiving table.

5) Zinfandel is uniquely American, like the holiday itself, and though it ranges widely in styles, most of them are excellent and fun choices, with enough big flavors for a turkey dinner.

6) If your preference is for white wines, then Pinot Gris and Viognier are your best choices, as they tend to have enough acidity for white meat, and enough flavor to not get buried by the strong flavors of the dishes.

7) Want a fun, uncomplicated wine, but you’re not a red wine drinker and white doesn’t float your boat? Go with a GOOD dry rosé, one with gobs of flavor and interest. The coolness and acidity of the wine should handle any heat, and the forward fruit should refresh and delight the palate. We’ve listed some below.

8) Want to splurge on something fun? Serve a really good sparkling wine. The acidity and effervescence cleans and brightens the palate, preparing it for each new bite of food.

In the end, the focus should not be on the wine, or even on the food, but on the conviviality of family and friends, and pausing for a day to count our many blessings, especially peace and freedom from fear and want.

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Oh, and because this forum isn't a vehicle for me to blatantly advertise, if anyone is interested in what specific wines I would suggest, feel free to PM me an email address and I'll send it to you.

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My husband insists that his favorite Thanksgiving-food wine pairing is Gewurztraminer. My mother-in-law doesn't drink red wine, and likes wine with plenty of residual sugar-- she recently "discovered" white zinfandel, and it really floats her boat, bless her heart... I am in the pinot noir-with-roasted-bird camp. Slight wrinkle here, since I am planning to lightly smoke the turkey, which I am doing in the Weber Kettle, so I might need to shift to a zinfandel as a better choice with the smoke. My way of dealing with this is to open several bottles simultaneously, so everyone can be happy. I got an Albrecht gewurz for hub, a German riesling for Mom (I refuse to have white zin on my table), and decisions, decisions, I have numerous options for both pinot (Hartford, Adelsheim, Hangtime, Castle Rock) and zinfandel (1995 Elyse Howell Mtn., Hartford, Seghesio). I also have some Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat (Parker-98 points) to have with the pumpkin pie.

I am probably going to make roasted winter squash soup for a first course, which would pair well with either the gewurz or the riesling. I can then move to red for the main course, and whoever wants to join me, can. My brother-in-law is quite a wine connoisseur, so I will consult with him about which red(s) to open.

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Gewürtztraminer is a great choice but, to paraphrase George Orwell, some Gewürtz's are more equal than others.

For a U.S. Gewürtz that is VERY fresh and won't bust your budget, I recommend the 2005 Alexander Valley Vineyards. You read that correctly: 2005, it was literally bottled a couple of weeks ago. It isn't petrol-y and had nice fruit and good acidity. This one won't send the relatives screaming into the street with horror, which is important because some outstanding Alsace Gewürtz's can totally alienate the day-in, day-out Chardonnay drinker. It requires a complete paradigm-shift for their palates as to what great wine can be, so I generally don't recommend it unless the client knows their guests sensibilities enough to know that they'll appreciate it.

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Ok, so I know *ZERO* about wines. I was charged with bringing some white wine to the potluck (sorta) Thanksgiving we were attending. Went to a local wine store who has steered me well in the past, told them my request, explained I don't like sweet, needed white, and gave them my cost parameters. Came out with two bottles of a Riesling from Alsace (by way of explanation for how little I know about wine, that's all I remember about it). You know what? I loved it. I didn't like it to drink on it's own, but with the Thanksgiving food, I thought it was really good.

Live and learn...

(P.S. In the past, I've gone with pinot noirs and have always been really happy with how they paired with the bird.)

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This year I learned that Santo Tomas Barbera from Baja California goes great with turkey mole. A nice Thanksgiving fiesta. Recommendation came from Joe Riley and it was a good one.

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My philosophy on Thanksgiving wine is very jingoistic. It's an American holiday, therefore we should celebrate the harvest of the vineyard as well as the field in my opinion.

The traditional Thanksgiving dinner is a cornucopia of big flavored food, sometimes warring with each other, but all jockeying for prominence on the palate. The wine you serve should have enough fruit and flavor to not get lost in this gastronomical mêlée, and should harmonize with the food and make it taste more interesting. While many wines will work with turkey and mashed potatoes, for a terrific pairing, follow the clues in the stuffing: Try soft, supple pinot noir with smoky, dried-cherry flavors to highlight stuffings containing dried fruit. Spicy sausage calls for zinfandel (the REAL stuff, not “white”). Pacific northwest Pinot Gris (Oregon, Washington) is a nice pairing with oyster dressing.

My first choice is a west coast Pinot Noir, for several reasons, but we always recommend red wine first because:

1) Since Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday, we feel it should be celebrated with American red wine.

2) Because most white wines don’t have enough acidity for white meat, and because of the abundance of strong flavors, red wine is the preferred choice for a “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner, though certainly not the only one.

3) Pinot Noir is, quite possibly, the most silky and supple of all red varieties, as it has good acidity (acidity being the lynch pin when it comes to balancing the flavors of all components from stuffing to cranberry sauce)

4) Syrah is as versatile as it is pretty. With lots of assertive flavors, including blue and black fruits, spice and, sometimes, profoundly earthy, it can more than hold it’s own with all the flavorful bounty of a Thanksgiving table.

5) Zinfandel is uniquely American, like the holiday itself, and though it ranges widely in styles, most of them are excellent and fun choices, with enough big flavors for a turkey dinner.

6) If your preference is for white wines, then Pinot Gris and Viognier are your best choices, as they tend to have enough acidity for white meat, and enough flavor to not get buried by the strong flavors of the dishes.

7) Want a fun, uncomplicated wine, but you’re not a red wine drinker and white doesn’t float your boat? Go with a GOOD dry rosé, one with gobs of flavor and interest. The coolness and acidity of the wine should handle any heat, and the forward fruit should refresh and delight the palate. We’ve listed some below.

8) Want to splurge on something fun? Serve a really good sparkling wine. The acidity and effervescence cleans and brightens the palate, preparing it for each new bite of food.

In the end, the focus should not be on the wine, or even on the food, but on the conviviality of family and friends, and pausing for a day to count our many blessings, especially peace and freedom from fear and want.

Happy Thanksgiving to all Rockwellians, and please post about what you paired with your dinner :)

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In my family, the Thanksgiving holiday is the time to reunite with siblings, extended family and old friends around a huge dinner table filled with wonderful food and bottles of wine. While we are only a family of six, late November tends to be the only time of year when all of us can expect to be at the same table and as a result we like to take advantage of the time and fill it with laughter and great stories.

Aside from the usual fare of a heritage turkey, oyster stuffing, glazed onions, spinach balls, etc... much of my wine consuption was on a bottle I found at a small sandwich shop in Virginia Beach called Taste Unlimited. After taking time to familiarize myself with their humble wine selection, I was pointed in the direction of an Oregon Pinot Noir called Chateau Bianca.

I do not consider myself a wine expert by any stretch of the imagination, but found its taste to be a perfect match for what I like to drink.

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Three thanksgivings at three houses, lots of yummy stuff.

Thursday with various Cantonese dishes: Eric Bordelet Poire Authentique and Sidre Brut Tendre.

Friday with chicken: Francois Pinon Vouvray Tradition 2005, Jean-Paul Brun Beaujolais Blanc 2004, Avondale Cabernet Sauvignon rose 2006, Amira Syrah 2004, Amira Cabernet Franc 2004, Claude Marechal Bourgogne rouge "Cuvee Gravel" 2004.

Saturday with duck and beef: Eric Bordelet Sidre Brut, Avondale Chenin Blanc 2005, Pascal Aufranc Chenas Vielles Vignes 2005, BWC Pinot Noir 2005, Muratie Shiraz 2003.

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We've offered to bring some wine to our host's house for Thanksgiving. Any recommendations? Not only to drink with Turkey, but also perhaps a bottle of something bubbly for fun. Caveat: It can't be a wine too hard to find, as the places I can shop are not always well stocked. (Between Anacostia and southern Calvert county on my way home tonight, most likely. My best bet is Port of Call in Solomons). The hosts seem to like slightly lighter bodied wines than we do, btw. They lived in Germany and traveled extensively in France for 10 years. (I'm also taking a pecan pie and other sides, but want to get the wine right. Although I'd like to keep it under $50/bottle.)

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I am in charge of wine this year (among other things) and I kept it simple and cheap. Bottles of Pinot Blanc from Lucien Albrect and village Beujolais imported by Robert Kacher (can't remember the name.) My family is not picky and neither am I.

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Me being aussie, I'm gonna find the wine this year :blink: so I'm hunting my local ABC and wine cellar at the last minute for an Australian produced Tempranillo or Barbera. I wont hold my breath.

Ive heard Yalumba did a mix of Tempranillo, Viognier and Grenache and made a really nice blend.. I doubt my local has it but who knows!

The most alcoholic thing my inlaws drink is sparkling cider. There should be a law against fizzy apple juice.

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Hey, is that Alexander Valley "New Gewurz" available this year?

Probably. All I know is, I have a few bottles of 2005 remaining, and since it is under Stel-Vin, it is probably just as fresh as it was 1 year ago.

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Instead of wine, how about a nice refreshing Thanksgiving Cocktail?

* Wild Turkey Bourbon (80 or 100 proof)

* Cranberry Juice (any kind)

* Crowther's Garlic Flavor Drinking Gravy (accept no substitutes)

Fill a tall glass with ice cubes. Add 2 ounces of Wild Turkey and 1 ounce of Cranberry Juice. Then fill the glass with the Drinking Gravy. Stir gently to mix the ingredients. Add a dollop of mashed potatoes, and garnish with a turkey bone.

The key ingredient here:

CrowthersGravy.png

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We had: Piper-Heidsieck Brut

2005 Carmel Road Monterey Pinot Noir

Erath 2005 Pinot Noir Oregon

Then we sort of lost track...

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well the in-laws didnt like the clancy's. too strong for them. They did love the yorkshire puddings. So we have at least one new tradition in the family :blink:

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well the in-laws didnt like the clancy's. too strong for them. They did love the yorkshire puddings. So we have at least one new tradition in the family :blink:

I need to learn to make yorkshire puddings. My husband's grandmother served them every Christmas. Unfortunately, I don't control the menu on Christmas, so we'll see if I can get the oven space. Is it a standard recipe? I think hers is gone now.

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I need to learn to make yorkshire puddings. My husband's grandmother served them every Christmas. Unfortunately, I don't control the menu on Christmas, so we'll see if I can get the oven space. Is it a standard recipe? I think hers is gone now.

Every year my Mom makes on for Christmas Eve dinner: I'm pretty sure she pulled it straight from the Better Homes and Garden's Cookbook, and it has always been one of my favorite parts of the holiday. Not sure if it is available online, but I've found the book to be a great reference in general.

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Bump.

What wine is everyone planning to drink this Thanksgiving? I'm tasked with bringing wine and am planning on bringing 2 reds (TBD) and 1 white (probably Horton Viognier).

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My local wine guy, when asked to select a turkey wine at Easter that wine snob wanna-be BIL wouldn't know, suggested a Berger Zweigelt from Austria. Fabulous. We are having it for Thanksgiving this year. It's in a slightly larger-than-normal bottle (1 liter) and has a beer cap topper instead of a cork or screw top. $14.95 here in Ohio. It's really great with smoked turkey.

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Bump.

What wine is everyone planning to drink this Thanksgiving? I'm tasked with bringing wine and am planning on bringing 2 reds (TBD) and 1 white (probably Horton Viognier).

I cannot think of a better question to ask Gerry.

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I'm making a cauliflower soup w/seared scallop, leeks, & lemon oil for an app. I love chardonnay with that dish, but since it's Thanksgiving and I don't need much of a reason to get festive with some bubbly I'm gonna' go blanc de blanc with that course.

Haven't decided on the wine for the main meal yet - was thinking I might go bordeaux to be different, but if everyone else is bringing red, I may just bring a gewurtztraminer. I personally think white wines, especially those with a touch of sweetness or a good bit of fruit forwardness are more forgiving with the variety of dishes at the Thanksgiving table. I often drink viognier with Thanksgiving so I think that Horton is a good call.

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My local wine guy, when asked to select a turkey wine at Easter that wine snob wanna-be BIL wouldn't know, suggested a Berger Zweigelt from Austria. Fabulous. We are having it for Thanksgiving this year. It's in a slightly larger-than-normal bottle (1 liter) and has a beer cap topper instead of a cork or screw top. $14.95 here in Ohio. It's really great with smoked turkey.

If I can get myself down to Calvert Woodley in the next day or two (so far have not been successful) they've got a Blaufrankisch/Zweigelt blend from Anton Bauer that I want to try. Maybe that's the red I should take to Thanksgiving. The tasting notes do say it's traditionally paired with fall dishes of duck, game, & pumpkin.

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Punkt Gnau for hors d'oeuvres. Kabinett riesling, a Brouilly, and an Oregon Pinot Noir for dinner.

Coffee and scotch for dessert.

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Punkt Gnau for hors d'oeuvres. Kabinett riesling, a Brouilly, and an Oregon Pinot Noir for dinner.

Coffee and scotch for dessert.

I approve this message.

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Many thanks for all the suggestions, and please keep them coming, particularly whites. We have lots of red on hand for different tastes, so I need to get a couple of cases of different whites to get us through the season.

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I usually head over to Cork and load up on roses and pinot noir, whatever looks interesting in the moment.  For whites I've had success in the past with Alsatian Pinot Gris, but I'd love to hear what others are buying.  I generally don't think this is a meal worth sweating over the wine details, particularly if you're unsure what's going to be served.  My strategy is to get a bunch of stuff that will probably work with most of what's going to be on the table, and let people find something they'll like.

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Two magnums of our current house red Borsao Tres Picos (2010) for the family, and a bottle or two of Keating Zinfandel (2009, Montecillo Vineyard) for the wine drinkers.  Maybe we'll pop some champagne too, since it's the first Thanksgiving in our new home.

 

Thanks for the heads up on the garnacha.  Thanks to our wine tasting threads, it has become one of my favorite grapes. 

 

I usually head over to Cork and load up on roses and pinot noir, whatever looks interesting in the moment.  For whites I've had success in the past with Alsatian Pinot Gris, but I'd love to hear what others are buying.  I generally don't think this is a meal worth sweating over the wine details, particularly if you're unsure what's going to be served.  My strategy is to get a bunch of stuff that will probably work with most of what's going to be on the table, and let people find something they'll like.

 

I don't think of Thanksgiving as a time to bring out the "interesting" wines, but I do like to have a nice range of food-friendly, unlikely-to-offend bottles on hand.  In that vein, I've got a couple of bottles of Oyster Bay Pinot Noir ready to go. 

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After many years of trying to find the ideal wines to pair with Thanksgiving, I've realized that I really find whites and roses to be more generally food friendly. For whites, a good, relatively dry gewurtztraminer is probably my favorite, but I think viognier also does well. This year I'll be opening one of my gewurtz's from my trip to the Finger Lakes this summer. For red, I do enjoy some of Frick's lighter rhone varietals/blends as well.

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We normally have a bottle of Virginia sparkling wine (Thaibut or Barboursville) pre-dinner at Hubby's house, so I am doing that for my house too.  This year, I am thinking of going Reisling, as I have one from White Hall I like, hoping that is a good choice.  

 

Any suggestions on a good Virginia red?  We have a few so I might just pick one from the collection that I think would go well.  What about a Norton? 

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After many years of trying to find the ideal wines to pair with Thanksgiving, I've realized that I really find whites and roses to be more generally food friendly. For whites, a good, relatively dry gewurtztraminer is probably my favorite, but I think viognier also does well. This year I'll be opening one of my gewurtz's from my trip to the Finger Lakes this summer. For red, I do enjoy some of Frick's lighter rhone varietals/blends as well.

 

Well it's not lighter but there will be Frick Grenache at my Thanksgiving.  I think it's the perfect Thanksgiving red and still lament dropping a bottle in my front yard 2 or 3 Thanksgivings ago. Also a Glen Manor Rose will bless this year's table.  I need to invite more people.

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Well it's not lighter but there will be Frick Grenache at my Thanksgiving.  I think it's the perfect Thanksgiving red an still lament dropping a bottle in my front yard 2 or 3 Thanksgivings ago. Also a Glen Manor Rose will bless this year's table.  I need to invite more people.

No, you don't. I got this.  :P

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We ended up having a Paradise Springs Petite Manseng, White Hall Pinot Gris and Tattinger.  My non-alcoholic peppermint-lavender iced tea was a big hit. 

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Well I surprised myself. The Frick grenache was my winner this year, excellent pairing imho, although I also enjoyed the Herman J. Wiemer dry gewurtz quite a bit.

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