What you should be drinking this Thanksgiving…and every Thanksgiving, really

21 Nov

turkey-sommelier-640It’s that time of year again, when snows begin to swirl and thoughts turn to holiday reunions with far-flung relatives and acquaintances. Beer’s fine for watching football while the turkey’s cooking, but at Thanksgiving dinner only wine can move you gracefully from green bean casserole to marshmallow-y baked yams. Variety is the word of the day, and you need wine that plays well with others, wine that knows an assist is as good as a slam dunk. Also, given the preponderance of gravy, butter, and cream around the table, you want a wine with enough acidity to cleanse the palate—literally, as it will scrub the layer of fat off your tongue and freshen the taste buds hidden beneath, preparing your palate for the next delicious forkful. The following are quintessential Thanksgiving wines, the workhorses that work so well with everything on the table—plus a few more advanced selections to surprise those annoying wine connoisseurs who always want to host the gathering.

Pinot Noir:

When it comes to red wines, Pinot Noir is about the most versatile variety around. You can go with a big, fruit-forward presentation from California that’s a crowd-pleaser on its own, or with a leaner, more terroir-driven Burgundy—both will be excellent with just about every kind of food. Again, it comes down to acidity and, in Pinot Noir’s case, light body.

038Campion Pinot Noir (California 2007): Really exceptional Pinot Noir, a bold presence for your Turkey Day table. Big fruit, nice balance, and plenty of great bottle age make this one a keeper. $30

Evesham Wood Pinot Noir (Oregon 2012): A family-run winery doing great work in the Willamette Valley at prices that won’t break the bank. Really good Oregon Pinot can be tough to find under $25, but this is awesome wine. $22

Roger Sauvestre Gevrey-Chambertin (France 2010): Gevrey-Chambertin is one of my favorite appellations for red Burgundy. Pinot Noirs from the area are wonderfully expressive, concentrated, age-worthy wines, and Sauvestre’s 2010 is drinking very well right now. $52

Riesling:

Let’s get this out of the way first: yes, some Rieslings are sweet. But in Germany and elsewhere, oceans of dry Riesling are made and consumed by people who love the amazing balance of acidity, minerality and fruit presence. These are ideal food wines, versatile, functional and delicious.

Eroica Riesling (Washington 2011): Gorgeous Washington Riesling, with diamond-cut acidity leavened by just a touch of residual sugar. Far from reading as “sweet,” it elegantly rounds out the lush, peachy mouthfeel. $20

073Clemens Busch Riesling Trocken (Germany 2011): “Trocken” is a good German word to know if you don’t like sweeter Rieslings. It means “dry,” and this one from Clemens Busch is one of the driest around. Beautiful minerality typical of Rieslings from the steep slate valleys of the Mosel River. $25

Huia Dry Riesling (New Zealand 2010): With vibrant, crisp acidity framing rich stonefruit flavors, this is revelatory Riesling from a region not particularly known for them. Stunning wine from a house that also makes really tasty New Zealand Pinot Noir. $24

Rosé:

For me, good rosé is a must at Thanksgiving. Don’t think White Zinfandel here—these wines are all dry, crisp, and well-suited to the task of accompanying different dishes of varying weights. Give one a try and see what I mean.

DSC03063Domaine d’Eole Rosé (France 2012): If you’re not sure whether pink wine deserves a place on your table, start with one from Provence, where it’s not a feast unless there’s pink to pour. Classic Provençal rosé, all bright strawberries and lavender. $20

Amador Foothill Rosato of Sangiovese (California 2012): This is rosato (Italian rosé, honoring the Tuscan origins of the Sangiovese grape) with a fuller body and even a bit of tannic presence. Great rosé for red wine drinkers. $18

Regis Bouvier Marsannay Rosé (France 2012): Rosé of Pinot Noir from Marsannay, in Burgundy. Brilliant white flowers and tangerine notes, with a tart cherry component on the palate. $25

Extra Credit:

Here are some unique wines from around the world—all under $20—to impress the wine snobs in your life. Just hand over the bottles with a confident smile, maintain eye contact, and correct their pronunciation.

Ameztoi Txakolina (Spain 2012): Say it with me: “AH-maze-toy CHOCK-o-LEEN-yah.” That’s great, close enough. Basque white wine from the area around San Sebastian, in Spain. In a region famous for its wide variety of tapas, this is the wine that they pour alongside everything. Delicious, bone-dry, minerally white to complement a feast of many flavors. $20

Erste & Neue Müller-Thurgau (Italy 2011): From Alto Adige, in Italy’s far northeast, which used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They speak German as well as Italian, and that fluency extends to grapes like Müller-Thurgau. Really fun white wine, with refreshing acidity complementing bright citrus and stonefruit on the deliciously full palate. $16

DSC03062Gran Passione Rosso (Italy 2012): A crowd favorite from the Veneto region of Italy, home of the famed Amarone della Valpolicella. Produced via the same appassimento process as Amarone, whereby the grapes are dried for a period before pressing. This concentrates the flavors, making for surprisingly rich red wine that is still very Italian, light on its feet and food-friendly. $18

Ecker Brillant Zweigelt (Austria 2011): Those in the know know that Austria’s making some great wine these days, and this Zweigelt is a fun example. Easy-drinking, approachable wine somewhere between Cru Beaujolais and fruitier Pinot Noir. Great with food, whether it’s Wiener schnitzel or your grandmother’s stuffing. $15

The Usual Suspects:

Because no matter what you’re serving, some people just need their old standby. Here are some classic, comforting styles that keep people coming back time and again.

DSC03061Flying Horse Cabernet Sauvignon (California 2005): Who doesn’t love Napa Cab? Stellar wine from a stellar vintage—2005 for under $50? Call us crazy. It wouldn’t be the first time. $46

Lavender Hill Chardonnay (California 2010): Wonderful Napa wine that will please both Francophile purists and everyone who loves the full-tilt, buttery California style of Chardonnay. Lush and full without compromising the mouthwatering acidity. $36

Shannon Ridge Zinfandel (California 2010): Classic Lake County Zin, with brambly, jammy fruit—and lots of it. Spicy, yummy, bold stuff for the folks who wouldn’t be caught dead with a rosé. $24

DSC03060And of course…

Jean Baronnat Beaujolais Nouveau (France 2013): Every third Thursday in November, a week before Thanksgiving, the new vintage of fresh, fruity Beaujolais Nouveau arrives on our shores. For those who dig it, there’s no substitute with turkey. For those who haven’t tried it, it’s unique, approachable, light red wine that, for many, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without. $15

-Nathan Gordon

To order any of the wines mentioned above, simply call us at 303.355.8324 to place an order. Cheers!

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