The time has come! You’ve spent weeks prepping that elegant Thanksgiving feast you’re proudly going to serve to your loved ones. With so much time and love going into this holiday meal, it’s important to select wines worthy of your efforts to elevate the occasion.
Follow these simple rules when planning wine pairings and discover expertly selected wines for the perfect match. Your friends will think you’ve hired a personal sommelier!
Start with sparkling wine as a festive treat. Sparkling wines are remarkably food-friendly and make a classy aperitif. The high acidity helps to 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 ideal partner for turkey.
When pairing still white wines, look for crisp aromatic whites like Riesling. 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 appear flabby against a customary Thanksgiving menu.
For the reds, choose wines with high acid and low tannins like pinot noir and gamay. The bright cherry and tart cranberry notes, along with savory-sweet baking spices, are ideal accompaniments to vibrant side dishes like stuffing, creamy gravy and mashed potatoes. The subtle earthy and mushroom flavors in good pinot noirs like the ones listed here make a great pairing with turkey. Fruity and lush grenache and zinfandel are also great choices, but lean toward softer styles that are not overly jammy or fruit forward.
- NV Demiere Allegory $39.99.
Not just a pre-dinner drink, champagne goes with your meal as well! 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.
- 2019 Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg Cuvee St. Catherine $79.99
This outstanding Riesling from Domaine Weinbach, the top producer in Alsace, offers notes of lime, apple, ripe white peach and spicy lychee on the nose. White pepper spice, wet river stones and hints of petrol follow on the long finish.
- 2017 Bichot Saint Veran $23.99
This classic, unoaked chardonnay is crisp and refreshing, loaded with bright acidity that balances nectarine fruit flavors. An affordable white Burgundy, its lively citrus, tart green apple and white peach characteristics express the Saint Veran growing appellation. It nicely pairs with green beans topped in almonds and crunchy fresh salads.
- 2019 Sonrío Cuando Llueve Albarino $19.99
For the Spanish wine lover, serve albarino. Aromas of green apple, lemon, pear and pineapple burst from the glass. The palate has a creamy and round texture along with racy acidity to create a balanced and lively white wine. Shake up the Thanksgiving table with a nontraditional wine that still suits the menu.
- 2019 Calstar Cellars Pinot Noir River’s Edge $39.99
Dark ruby in color with aromas of black cherry, this pinot noir is ideal with turkey and cranberry sauce. The rich palate delivers spicy toasted oak, dark cherries, strawberries and Asian spices. A lingering finish features balanced oak and fruit with soft, velvety tannins.
- 2016 De Lancellotti Vineyard Lachini Mountain Pinot Noir $59.99
Deep ruby-red with a firm, earthy structure, it has notes of tart red cherry and violet with white pepper spice and a long finish that make it a natural pairing for poultry.
- 2018 Robert Debuisson Brouilly $19.99
While it may seem a cliche, Beaujolais is still a wonderful Thanksgiving pairing. Cru Beaujolais especially is the perfect partner for tart fruit sauces and chutneys. It’s medium(+)-bodied, low in tannin and has tons of baking spice and black pepper. This is a serious gamay loaded with lush and sweet red fruit.
- 2018 Terrazas del Moncayo $36.99
Fresh and exotic aromas of red cherry, boysenberry and strawberries complement white pepper spice and a full-bodied and powerful finish ‒ a perfect accompaniment to Thanksgiving sides.
- 2017 Calstar Cellars Za Za Zinfandel $13.99
Aromas of juicy Bing and maraschino cherry with raspberry and strawberry compote gain complexity from supporting notes of sweet coffee, dried rose petal and violet. Subtle minerality joins lovely, lingering acidity.
- Leyenda Oloroso $11.99
Delight your guests with a special, unexpected treat. Loaded with rich toast and complex nuttiness, this delightful and affordable oloroso pairs wonderfully with your pecan and pumpkin pie with sherry. Notes of dried apricot and Christmas spice complement the holiday’s decadent desserts.
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.