After all, it’s an American holiday, right?
The question I hear most often during the time between Nov. 1 and the fourth Thursday of November (that would be Thanksgiving) is, “What kind of wine goes best with turkey?”
Thanksgiving is the one holiday where almost everyone puts a bottle of wine on the table. The diversity of flavors from all the foods presents an interesting challenge as to what wines to serve (pour), but I am a firm believer that wine at this feast should be from the United States. After all, the first harvest feast was a collaboration between the Pilgrims and Native Americans.
There are no clear right or wrong wines to pour for Thanksgiving, but here are some of my favorites.
These are always a great start to the celebration. Bubbles also will work well with foods. Iron Horse from Sonoma Valley is American owned. Gloria Ferrer is Spanish-owned and produced in Sonoma, Calif. They make a great Brut and Blanc de Noir, as does the French-owned Mumms from the Napa Valley.
Willamette Valley Pinot Gris is rich, medium-bodied, with hints of tropical fruit, melon and honey. Two great examples are Adelsheim and Eyrie.
Sauvignon Blanc is clean and crisp with subtle hints of grapefruit, mild tropical fruits and a grassy herbaciousness. Honig and Frogs Leap from Napa, Pedroncelli and Dry Creek Vineyards from Sonoma and Buty from Washington state are brands to look for.
Riesling can be fruity or dry and both examples are widely available. The varietal is floral in smell and loaded with flavors of peaches and citrus fruits. Hyatt from Washington state is fruity, and Wiemer, from New York, is on the drier side and works quite well. Wiemer also makes a nice, spicy, dry Gewurztraminer, another varietal that matches nicely and is my wife’s favorite.
Syrah and Petit Sirah wines are dry and earthy, showing dark fruits and black pepper spice. Examples are Tablas Creek, Ojai, and Parducci. Neyers is also a good choice, and winemaker Bruce Neyers is local and a graduate of Mount Pleasant High School.
Zinfandel has combinations of spices, cloves, cinnamon and red berry and is full bodied. This wine style is one of my favorites. I love the spicy, brambly flavor; after all, I am a Zinophile. Sonoma has some very old Zinfandel vines and I am fond of Pedroncelli Mother Clone and Dashe—very elegant. Steele has an old vine version from Mendocino, Pacini Vineyard, and on the juicer side is Ryzin from Paso Robles.
Pinot Noir is, by far, my favorite wine for Thanksgiving. Earthy black cherry and raspberry fruits seem to match the diversity of all the flavors in the feast. Pinot Noir is grown quite well in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and in the cooler regions of California.
Excellent examples from Oregon are Adelsheim, St. Innocent, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Le Cadeau and Soter.
From California we have Neyers, Baileyana, Steele, Murphy Goode and locally-owned Bouchaine Vineyards.
These are just some suggestions of the many available. The bottom line: drink what you like, and enjoy!
And to all Out & About readers: Have a safe, wonderful and blessed holiday season.
—John Murray is owner of State Line Liquors in Elkton, Md.