This Thanksgiving will certainly be different than in years past. Our tables may have fewer friends and family, but one thing is for sure, the wine should be great! Choose quality over quantity this year and select very special wines to elevate the occasion for your small group.
There are a few simple rules to consider when planning your Thanksgiving wine pairings this year. Start with sparkling wine as a festive treat. Sparkling wines bring an elegance to your meal, plus they are remarkably food-friendly. The high acidity helps to both cut through rich fatty sides like creamy mashed potatoes, and the minerality adds depth to meaty flavors. The bright stone fruit and citrus notes also make it the perfect partner for turkey.
When pairing still white wines, look to crisp aromatic whites like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris. It’s helpful to serve slightly off-dry but balanced whites to complement sweeter sides like sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and creamed corn. Acid is the key, so look for whites with a tart freshness that also pair with those roasted root veggies, green beans, and salads. Avoid buttery, oaky Chardonnay since it will just appear flabby up against a customary Thanksgiving menu.
For the reds, choose wines with high-acid and low-tannins like Pinot Noir. The bright cherry and tart cranberry notes, along with savory-sweet baking spices are the ideal accompaniment to vibrant Thanksgiving side dishes like stuffing, creamy gravy, and mashed potatoes. The very subtle earthy and mushroom flavors found in good Pinot Noirs like the ones listed below make a great match with traditional turkey. Fruity and lush Grenache and Zinfandel are great choices. Our picks are softer without being too jammy or fruit forward.
2020 Thanksgiving Wines
NV Demiere Allégory $39.99, Champagne, France
Honeydew melon, toast, white flowers, and honey aromas mingle on the nose and palate of this beautiful, fresh aperitif style Champagne, offering tons of complexity.
2015 Domaine Emile Beyer Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Pfersigberg $59.99, Alsace, France
Made from 30-year-old vines, this spicy Gewürztraminer offers notes of white pepper, lychee, gingerbread, and honey. Highly aromatic, it is an off-dry style with balanced, tangy acidity. This wine is perfect for candied yams and all of the sweet treats at the Thanksgiving table.
2018 Weinbach Riesling $32.99, Alsace, France
This lovely wine offers notes of lime, apple, ripe white peach, and spicy lychee on the nose. White pepper spice, wet river stones, and hints of petrol on the long finish.
2016 Hatton Daniels Pinot Noir $44.99, Sonoma Coast, California
A light ruby color, this Pinot is so juicy and fruity with beautiful lip-smacking acidity that it’s hard to just have just one glass. The lush red berry fruit is complemented by a lovely cinnamon and clove spice on the palate, balanced by smooth yet firm tannins and a long finish.
2014 WesMar Pinot Noir Hellenthal Vineyard $59.99, Sonoma Coast, California
Made by husband and wife winemaking team, Kirk Wesley Hubbard and Denise Mary Selyem, the couple has iconic American winemaking in their blood. Denise’s father is Ed Selyem, of Williams Selyem Winery. You will find the same quality, elegance, and finesse in WesMar as you will in Williams Selyem wines. This is a stunning and elegant Pinot Noir with Old World sensibilities. Tart red cherry and plum fruit with notes of baking spice, coco, anise, and vanilla.
2017 Terrazas del Moncayo $36.99 Campo de Borja, Spain
Fresh and exotic aromas of red cherry, boysenberry, and strawberries are complemented by white pepper spice, and a full-bodied and powerful finish. It will complement Thanksgiving sides perfectly.
Elyse Genderson is the Vice President of Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Visit her at the historic storefront at 300 Massachusetts Ave NE to discover wines you’ll love.
Schneider’s turned 70 in 2019 and is more forward-thinking than ever. Founded by Abe Genderson and his father-in-law, Max Schneider, it’s now a 4th generation family-run business, a treasured institution in the nation’s capital and one of America’s leading purveyors and importers of fine wines and spirits. The heart and soul of Schneider’s is its historic storefront in Washington, DC, but there’s more than meets the eye. Among other offerings, wine collectors come to Schneider’s to sell their collections and purchase rare bottles, wedding couples come for expert beverage catering and customers across the country take advantage of a robust e-commerce site: cellar.com. Abe and Max would be proud.