Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving Wine

Posted by Amy Neyer, CSW, WSET Advanced Certified


Charlie Brown: Holidays always depress me.

Sally Brown: I know what you mean. I went down to buy a turkey tree and all they have are things for Christmas.

Charlie Brown: For Christmas? Already?

Sally and Charlie are right, of course. Thanksgiving gets increasingly squeezed between the bookends of spectacular promotions that are Halloween and Christmas. For me, the tradition of Thanksgiving is worth celebrating, now more than ever. It’s bereft of gifting and celebrates simple pleasures – sharing a special meal with loved ones and dear friends, the smell of the roasting turkey, the crisp fall air, and, of course, the chance to enjoy great wine.

Too often, Thanksgiving brings the stress of meal prep and, for some, the burning question of what wines to pair with the panoply of flavors on the Thanksgiving plate. Side note: if this is your primary concern (file under “First World Problems”), then consider yourself, indeed, very fortunate for your harvest bounty.

If you’re reading this and still wondering what to serve, consider the following wines for which I’m grateful this and every Thanksgiving:

– Champagne: I am thankful for the rise and success of grower Champagnes – those smaller producers of Champagne that have allowed countless numbers of wine lovers (including this one) to enjoy bubbles from this hallowed region. Grower Champagne tends to enjoy lower price points and overall greater accessibility. Producers like Selosse, Chartogne-Taillet, and J. Lassalle are wonderful examples of the growers. Reminder: if it doesn’t come from the French region of Champagne, it’s not Champagne.

– Sparkling Wine: I am thankful for the abundance of high-value, quality sparkling wine from places like Spain (Cava), France (Loire Valley, Alsace), Italy (Franciacorta) and, closer to home, Oregon, New Mexico and California. Like Champagne, these wines are great ways to get the palate ready for the Thanksgiving feast. They also have the added benefit of pairing with lots of foods and jazz up even the simplest of Thanksgiving meals, including those countless leftovers, without breaking the bank.

– Beaujolais: I am grateful for this fall-centric wine that gets its own holiday every November with the celebration of the year’s early release bottling – Beaujolais Nouveau. While Beaujolais Nouveau gets most of the attention, there is a broad range of Beaujolais cru wines hailing from the area’s 16 appellations that are worthy of attention at Thanksgiving and beyond. With styles varying from light, feminine style to the more earthy and structured, there are lots of options from which to choose.

– Pinot Noir: Whether your wine originates in the Oregon hills of Dundee, the cool slopes of Burgundy’s Cote d’Or or the far-flung climes of New Zealand, Pinot Noir is the “gets along well with others” member of the Thanksgiving family. I’m grateful that it’s substantive enough to handle the food but not so heavy on your palate, especially when served during a late-afternoon holiday meal. A good Pinot Noir can inspire contemplation, including quiet physical and mental exits from the dinner table when talk turns to Uncle Herb’s unique view of politics.

– White Burgundy: Other whites might work more closely with the diversity of the table, but there’s nothing better at Thanksgiving than a buttery roasted bird and a special bottle of white Burgundy. An exceptional white Burgundy can be out of reach for most, but, thanks to distributors and importers such as Kermit Lynch, Robert Kacher and the like, there are more affordable options for those of us who love this wine but not the price tag.

Whatever is in your glass and on your plate this holiday, Vino Ventures wishes you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of food, family, friends and, of course, wines that you love.


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