Year after year, Americans use Thanksgiving as a means to idolize the overrated turkey. It’s a majestic bird and all, but let’s be honest: Regardless of how it’s cooked, turkey almost always turns out dry, bland, and in need of serious side dishes to amplify its flavor (quick, someone grab the cranberry sauce!). What doesn’t need any help is the wine. And wine experts across the country are breaking out a few show-stopping bottles for their family members at Thanksgiving. Here are a few bottles experts will be washing turkey down with on the upcoming holiday.
7 wines to consider this Thanksgiving:
For wine educator Kevin Day, who runs the blog Opening a Bottle, it’s all about family and feasting this Thanksgiving — not wearing his sommelier hat and dissecting every little note and nuance. So he’s planning to wow his relatives with something versatile and straightforward, a wine that can capture everyone’s attention without stealing too much of the spotlight. “Fresh, delicious, and versatile rules the day,” Day says, pointing to the racy and crisp Melon de Bourgogne produced by Domaine de la Pépière in the French village Maisdon-sur-Sèvre. “I’m familiar with them, and I know it’s versatile enough to not clash with any of the dishes. It’s the definition of a crowd-pleaser.”
Why eat pie on Thanksgiving when you can drink it? This silky and fruit-forward Zinfandel-based wine produced by Sonoma County winery Pezzi King is essentially blackberry pie with a hazelnut crumb crust in a bottle. Luscious flavors of black plum and pomegranate intertwine with white peppercorn and black cherry cola nuances, making a glass of this wine easy to enjoy on its own. Yet it’s still a good food wine, according to Dr. Hoby Wedler, the Sonoma-based chemist and educator who founded the blindfolded wine experience Tasting in the Dark. “This pairs perfectly with turkey dinner!” Wedler says.
Share a little bit of magic with loved ones over the holidays. That’s what Katie Melchior, a wine educator behind French Wine Tutor, plans to do. “This holiday season, my goal is to introduce the magic of the Bandol to anyone who will listen,” Melchior says. The bottle Melchior is spreading that splendor with is this blend of Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Grenache produced by Domaine de la Bégude, whose vineyards sit atop the Bandol appellation in Provence, France, towering over the Mediterranean Sea. Bright with grapefruit nuances and freshness, Melchior says the rosé is “structured enough to stand up to a myriad of holiday dishes, and it’s one that even rosé skeptics will love.”
Any good host knows there’s no better way to spread holiday cheer than with a bottle of bubbles. That’s why Ella Raymont, sommelier and wine director at Bishop’s Lodge, an Auberge Resorts Collection in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is popping bottles of this Chardonnay and Pinot Nero blend made by Guido Berlucchi Franciacorta in Italy’s Franciacorta winemaking region. “It’s a sparkling wine that is creamy, luscious, and absolutely one of a kind,” Raymont says. Not to mention the fact that the bubbly, with its zesty acidity and delicate balance, is a heck of a match with white meat, making it a glamorous counterpart for Thanksgiving turkey.
Accommodating everyone’s palate is no easy task, so it’s important to rely on wine with the flexibility to work with a variety of foods. That’s why Jaclyn Misch, a Napa Valley Wine Academy instructor and Instagram influencer who lives in Michigan, plans to serve her family a bottle of this chewy, fruity, and complex Gamay produced by Domaine de la Cadette in the Beaujolais region of France. “It’s super versatile and approachable when it comes to food pairings. Juliénas is known to be one of the more powerfully structured wines from this producer,” says Misch.
Gamay is always a good choice for big meals thanks to its intensely aromatic quality, ripe, juicy red and black fruit flavor, and easy-drinking nature. It pairs well with food, and what’s even better is that it’s excellent to drink all on its own. That’s why Virtual With Us CEO Alexandra Schrecengost plans to keep glasses full of Château du Moulin à Vent‘s signature Gamay, produced in the Beaujolais region of France, at her holiday shindig. “Beaujolais is a traditional go-to for Thanksgiving dinner because of how light and easy-drinking it is — not competing with flavors but complementing them — and the way its ripe cherry flavor pairs with turkey,” Schrecengost says.
Philip Kou and Jameel Khalfan, Instagram influencers and the operators behind the popular wine review account, The Wine Guys, have a knack for tasting dynamic wines and telling the whole world about them. So naturally, this year, the San Franciscans are stoked to present an incredibly rich and complex Pinot Noir produced by Raen Winery in Sonoma. Made with fruit grown on Raen’s Fort Ross-Seaview vineyard just two miles from the Pacific Ocean, the wine’s coastal influences are not to be missed. Neither are the notes of crushed ripe raspberries, sea moss, and orange peel that mingle with the sea salt and wet rock nuances that come to life on the back end of this wine. “It should pair with the turkey and fixings quite well and be a winner for both Old and New World palates,” says Kou. “It has the complexity to excite the veterans, but it is also approachable for people younger into their wine journeys.”