All or Nothing: Choosing Wine for the Thanksgiving Table


When it comes to choosing wine for the Thanksgiving table, we've all heard different traditions or rules to follow. The bottom line is that it's absolutely impossible for one wine to pair perfectly with all the elements of a Thanksgiving meal. Forget about pairing wine with turkey - it hardly tastes like anything! Think, however, of all the other stars of the table: savory stuffing, fatty gravy, bitter greens, sweet yams, creamy potatoes, and probably others that I am forgetting. I really think there are two options to consider:

Option 1: Choose a versatile wine that has a chance of pairing with at least a few bites

Option 2: Forget about everything on the table and choose wines that you already know you enjoy

I am partial to option one. I don't really want to discuss Beaujolais Nouveau, but I do think the Gamay or Pinot Noir grape is one of the most versatile options for Thanksgiving. And continuing on with tradition, let's choose an American wine for an American holiday. Sounds reasonable, right? Here are some wines to consider:

2014 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County

A great value. Fresh and bright, with aromas of red fruit and strawberry. Nice acidity and mouth filling intensity make this a versatile food-friendly wine. 

2013 Argyle Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

A classic, affordably priced Oregon Pinot Noir. The palate is lively and graceful, building density and focus as the silky tannins build into the long, energetic finish. 

2011 Bow & Arrow "Rhinestones", Willamette Valley

A blend of 60% Gamay and 40% Pinot Noir, this unique wine is fantastically food-friendly, ripe, juicy, and with just the right amount of acidity. Bow & Arrow also makes a lighter Gamay Noir that is worth a try. 

If you're going to go with option two and choose wines that you know you and your guests already like, do yourself a favor and limit yourself to two or three wines. Thanksgiving can be a stressful day and the last thing you need to do is open 11 bottles of wine to cater to every single person's needs. If there's one thing that I've found, it's that guests can typically fit themselves into three categories of wine drinkers: white, light red, and big red. 

White: I'll always choose a classic Chardonnay; not too heavy, buttery, or oaky. I would choose something like Chablis, from Burgundy. 

Light red: Like the three wines I listed above, I would choose a light Pinot Noir with nice acidity.

Big red: For the sake of versatility, I tend to choose a great, hearty red blend. There are SO many red blends out there and if you don't have a particular preference, here's a great opportunity to visit your local wine shop and have someone help you find exactly what you're looking for. The most popular blends seem to be Bordeaux blends based on Cabernet Sauvignon - and that's exactly what I'd recommend.

Just remember, as long as you have good wine you will always enjoy yourself. Happy Thanksgiving!