Tasteful Departure

John Murray

, Food & Drink

Thanksgiving wine suggestions that break from the traditional

Yes, it’s that time again. Time to begin planning the wines for your Thanksgiving feast.

While there are 10 other countries that celebrate this holiday—Germany, Grenada, China, The Netherlands, Japan, Liberia, South India, Brazil, Ghana, and Malaysia—this column will focus on North American wines. Traditionally, I’ve written about traditional Thanksgiving favorites—Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Zinfandel—but the following suggestions are lesser-known varietals and blends that will work well on your table.  Why not experiment and open your taste buds to new flavor profiles at your table? (Bubbles are always a great start and finish to your feast, but we’ll save that for the December issue.) Enjoy! And happy Thanksgiving!

White Wines

Sidebar Kerner   $29.99
This beautiful winery is a project of the Ramey Wine Cellars family. David Ramey has a passion for making expressive wines from unique grape varietals sourced in California. Kerner is a cross between Riesling and Trollinger grapes. This small and only planting is from the Mokelumne River in Lodi. It is crisp, light, dry and floral. Spicy textures with citrus zests lead to a wonderfully rich finish.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc – Viognier   $14.99
Crafted from fruit in the Clarksburg Appellation, this is grown on the Sacramento Delta. Enticing floral aromas of freshly baked apples, citrus and lemongrass open the door on its flavor profile. Bone dry, hints of lime zest, lemon curd and melon create a rich finish. 

Helioterra Starthistle Cuvée   $18.99
With grapes grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, this is a blend of the Huxelrebe and Riesling. Balanced fruit with lingering notes of jasmine, cardamom and honeysuckle lead to a slightly off-dry finish, firmed up with great acidity.

Montinore Borealis   $14.99
Here is another gem from the Willamette Valley. This mouthwatering crowd pleaser is very versatile with food flavors. A blend of Müller-Thurgau, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris, it shows fruits of kiwi, honeydew and orange blossoms, finishing bold and clear.

Alexander Valley Vineyards Sangiovese Rosé    $14.99
A wonderfully bright, aromatic, dry rosé from Sonoma, it has aromas of guava, strawberries, watermelon and raspberries. The fruit explodes out of the glass, showing hints of peaches and mint with great acidity. This 2018 is drier than previous vintages.

Red Wines

Sheldrake Point Winery Gamay Noir   $16.99
Located on the western shore of Lake Cayuga, this winery is known for wines of incredible value, texture and fruit. The Gamay Noir has rich aromas of strawberry coupled with excellent fruit flavors of cherry and cranberries. It is light, clean and dry.

J. Lohr Estates Wildflower Valdiguié   $9.99
Valdiguié is also known as Napa Gamay. Once widely planted throughout California, it has a brambly, exotic fruit nose that gives way to flavors of blueberries and pomegranate. Soft and delicate with light tannins, this wine is worth a try.

Dashe Delta Red    $19.99
The husband-and-wife team of Michael and Anne Dashe craft incredibly rich, eloquent wines. I met Michael in 1989 when he was a cellar rat at Ridge Vineyards in Cupertino, CA. He is known for his non-extracted, rich, brightly-fruited, earthy and spicy Zinfandels. Delta Red is a blend of Carignan, Mourvèdre, Teroldego, Tannat, Zinfandel, Barbera and Petite Sirah. This exotic blend has fruit flavors of rich, dark currants and spicy black pepper with hints of baking spices and dark chocolate. 

Clos de Gilroy Grenache   $19.99
Produced and bottled by Randall Graham of Bonny Doon, this pioneer winemaker has a long, stellar history of innovative winemaking. This wine pays homage to the small, rustic town of Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world. With bright, vibrant colors, this wine shows fruits of cassis and spicy pepper. It pairs well with a variety of foods.

Forlorn Hope Ost-Intrigen St. Laurent   $34.99
Exotic and bright yet spicy, this wine has a very small production of 125 cases. The fruit is from the Ricci Vineyard in the Carneros region in Napa and Sonoma. St. Laurent has exotic dark fruits along with blue currants and cloves with light, soft tannins, offering the eloquence of Pinot Noir with a refreshing taste on the palate.


John Murray is proprietor of State Line Liquors.

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