Wines Fit for the Thanksgiving Feast

You don’t have to break the bank to please your guests

I used to serve fairly fancy wine for Thanksgiving dinner because I figured the few times a year our family got together merited bottles that were old, rare or both. After a few years of this, I came to the realization that these sorts of celebrations call for good, but not great, wine. Why? Well, first of all, we’re all so busy catching up that we don’t really contemplate the wine in a way that great wine demands. Second, these sorts of feasts really work best with wine that’s flavorful and delicious but not overly complex. To put it another way, Thanksgiving fare is fantastic with high-end quaffers, red or white, that don’t call a lot of attention to themselves but are still soul-satisfying. The following are tried-and-true varietals that go with turkey and all the fixings and are all well under $20.     


Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier, California 2012, $12
This wine is worth it for the perfume alone—it’s like smelling spring flowers and nectarines! The wine is dry, however, with clean apricot flavors and even a hint of white pepper.

Red Rock “Winemaker’s Blend Reserve,” California 2011, $14
A lush blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah, this wine adds a lip-smacking berry element to your Thanksgiving table. Underneath its fruit are delicious nuances of pepper and anise.  

King Estate Pinot Gris, Oregon 2011, $15
A kaleidoscope of aromas and flavors show remarkable clarity for a wine this full-bodied. Superb earthy blackberry flavors complement lamb dishes wonderfully.      

Acrobat Pinot Noir, Oregon 2011, $16
Aromas of dried cranberry and molasses turn juicy on the palate in a Pinot featuring fine acidity and a lovely fruit and earth balance that  is oh-so-delicious with gravy.     

Available at Madison’s finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested.

Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

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