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Thanksgiving wines--what to serve with turkey?

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Not sure if this topic has been broached yet, but it's only two weeks away now. What do you serve on with your Thanksgiving meal? Reisling,beajolais noveau, gerwurtreminer, pinot noir, or something else?

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  1. My personal favorite is a dry or off-dry Pinot Gris. Those from Alsace, Alto Adige, or Anderson Valley are best. I usually have a bottle or two of Beaujolais Nouveau to share with the family as well, as the high fruit and low alcohol, oak, and tannin prevent it from clashing with much of anything. Plus it's just a fun thing to drink at that time of year.

    1. One thought that has been espoused, over the years, in alt.food.wine (news group), is that Thanksgiving is a tradition in the US, and the wine selection should mirror that origin. That said, I usually have a German Riesling (usually a Spätlese, or a Kabinett), an Alsacean Gewürztraminer, a CA (US) Pinot Noir and a Zinfandel. Also, a nice Brut Rosé sparkler (Iron Horse's Brute Rosé goes nicely) can accompany most of the first courses.

      The preparation of the turkey is probably important as to the wine for the main. We've done traditonal, "Cajun" fried, a Zinfandel marinaded and an ancho chili rubbed turkey. With lighter seasonings, a PN (OR/WA/CA with more earth, less fruit) will work well. With more spice, a CA "fruit-forward" PN is nice. As the spice level rises, I move quickly to a fruit-forward Zin.

      With pecan pie, I always have some Porto Barros 20yr Tawny on hand, as it has wonderful pecan notes. Cockburn's 20yr Tawny is another good one, but the Porto Barros is tops, in my book.

      I usually have a few bottles of the BJ Nouveau, as it is "the season." This is often the "welcome" wine, but I've often had it around the table with the meal. It also goes nicely for lunch the next day, or two, with the leftovers.

      Most of all, encourage the family and/or friends to have a wonderful time. Few wines will cover all bases. The possible exception might be the Brute Rosé, but many folk shy away from serving a sparker throughout the meal.

      Happy Thanksgiving,

      1. Last year I served a Navarro (Anderson Valley) Pinot Gris along with a young Pinot Noir (don't remember who the producer was-could've been Navarro, not 100% sure).
        But the Pinot Gris was a big hit, and I plan to do the same this year. Luckily, I'm a member of Navarro's pre-release club and that was in last week's shipment so I'm good to go as far as the white is concerned. Not sure which red I will bring....perhaps a Bogle Petite Sirah, it's very fruity and would go well with not only the turkey but many of the sides too.

        1. For reds, you need a Pinot Noir for Thanksgiving Turkey meal.

          1. I asked a question last week about a particular wine preference of some of my Thanksgiving guests, and I got a lot of good suggestions, both specific and general. You might find it useful:


            1. On an episode of Pairings, Andrea Immer suggested that a zin & gewurzt are particularly good with a traditional Thanksgiving menu. The choices make a lot of sense even if you don't go the route of tweaking your menu to fit the wines.

              1. I rub my turkey with a spicy Creole butter, and I like a full bodied Zin to go with it. AND with all the other stuff that makes up the traditional dinner. I like to start with an American Sparkling, such as Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée. Domaine chandon makes some nice bubblies, too.

                For dessert I always serve Sweet Potato Pie, and found last year that St. Supéery's Moscato is just perfect with that!

                1. Old riesling spatlese or auslese works well.

                  I think the issues are similar to Moroccan food--you've got some savory dishes, some lots of spices, some that are sweet.

                  1. I'm a Pinot Noir fan big-time for Thanksgiving (and pretty much for everything else, heh!)but we do love it with our turkey, which I just stuff and roast in a very traditional way. Because of the variety of flavors on the table, though, as Robert Lauriston points out, it's nice to offer more than red wine only and I've read that also in many an article on which wines to serve on Turkey Day. What other meal can you think of that offers: savory, spicy, salty & sweet all on one table? My son and I are the only ones who drink wine and we both love reds but I have to admit that I've never had a glass of Pinot Gris, so I need to explore that a bit, I suppose just to educate myself. This is a great board!

                    1. For the traditional turkey and ham dinner (I'm on a budget):

                      Red: Definitely Pinot Noir (Sonoma or Monterey) and maybe Beajolais (not Noveau). I'm leaning toward buying two 'Noirs rather than one of each. I like Beajolais (and it's easy to find a good moderately-priced bottle), but I just think my fellow diners will like Pinot Noir better. You're lucky to be from the Pacific Northwest (interesting Oregon 'Noirs). I'm leaning toward local 'Noir (S.F. Bay Area).

                      Medium-bodied white: Oak-aged Pinot Gris and/or Viognier. An oaky Chardonnay will work here, but I like to introduce my friends/family to new varietals. Again, you're lucky (Oregon Pinot Gris). I'll probably get California versions.

                      Other whites: Off-dry German Reisling (preferably Kabinett) and Spanish Brut Cava. Gotta have a not-so-dry white, and Germany does such a great job of balancing the slight sweetness, palate-cleansing acidity, and interesting minerality at moderate price levels (if you know where to look). I think it's easier to find a good moderately-priced Spanish Cava than a California or French sparkler. Spain uses different grapes (not Chardonnay and Pinot Noir).

                      For the not-so-traditional stuff at my Thanksgiving dinner (steamed crab, Japanese crab croquette (korokke), and prime rib):

                      Red: Australian Shiraz and/or Southern Rhone red. Maybe a California Cabernet Sauvignon, but I'd like to bring alternative "steak reds."

                      White: California Sauvignon Blanc. Crab. Great bargains. 'Nuff said.

                      1. The idea that Thanksgiving is an American meal and therefore deserves American wine is rubbish . . . just as the Napa Valley SWAT team won't kick in your front door for serving white wine with beef or red wine with fish, so too will your front door remain safe and intact if you serve wines produced from outside the U.S. with your Thanksgiving meal. The answer, as always, is "drink what you like with what you like to drink it with."

                        For me, that's a Cru de Beaujolais -- not that silly Nouveau stuff -- or lighter-bodied California Pinot Noir (i.e.: one that actually tastes like Pinot and not like Syrah) for the red, and either a Gewurztraminer or Pinot Gris, generally from Alsace (but never a Zind-Humbrecht) but perhaps one from California, such Navarro or Storrs.

                        For you? Who knows? I don't know your personal tastes. But you've got some wonderful suggestions so far.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: zin1953

                          I've never been a big fan of the "drink what you like" approach to wine appreciation. During my wine journey, continually challenging myself has paid off in spades. I just don't see how one can grow (in any endeavor) by NOT at some point maybe tasting and retasting things that they initially might not have liked. Honestly, if I truly stuck to "drinking what I liked" I'd still be drinking Cool-Aid.

                          1. re: Chinon00

                            The two points of view are not mutually exclusive, as you seem to be implying. One can certainly drink what you like AND grow in one's understanding and appreciation. Drinking what one likes does not mean never tryng new things, never discovering new likes, new appreciations -- even new dislikes, for that matter.

                            I have always found that "telling" someone that "X" goes with "Y" works only if the person likes "X." If they don't, all too often the insecurities and "mysteries" surrounding the wine world result in the individual questioning his or her own tastes. I've seen it happen all too many times, working in wineries, working in the retail trade, teaching wine classes in various places throughout California.

                            This in no way means there are not certain "magical combinations" (e.g.: salmon and Pinot Noir) that I list among my favorites, that I recommend to others. But when I make those recommendations -- perhaps it's a hold-over from working in "carriage-trade" retail stores -- but I like to know/to get an idea of what kind/type of wine the individual customer/student/participant in the discussion group likes.

                            Chinon might be a great match with certain dishes, but if the individual dislikes green tea, minerality and other components often associated with a Cabernet Franc from the Loire, I wouldn't suggest the match . . . CERTAINLY not for something like a Thanksgiving dinner where, as the saying goes, "everything must be perfect." That's quite different from recommending that individual TRY a Chinon at some point -- if it's available by the glass, for example; or picking up a bottle to try over the weekend with a casual meal. I would definitely do that. I would also point out how different a Chinon (or Bourgueil) is from a domestic (i.e.: American-produced) Cabernet Franc, let alone a Cheval Blanc, and in so doing, attempt to give the individual some idea of what to expect, etc., etc.

                            As for Kool-Aid, well . . .

                        2. Pinot Noir is ideal to pair with Turkey: Hartford Family Winery, Seascape, Russian River 2004, Bear Boat, Russian River 2003, Domaine Drouhin, Willamette Valley 2003, Merry Edwards, Russian River 2004.

                          1. I like to go off the board and serve a good hard cider with the Thanksgiving meal. It's cool and crisp and a great way to off-set all that rich food. And then a Canadian ice wine with dessert.

                            1. To some extent it depends on the other flavours in the meal (the stuffing, the sides, the sauces). Favouring savoury over sweet and not being a fan of fruit-and-meat combos, my fallback red is a supple Cabernet Franc-based wine from the Loire: one of the lighter Chinons, say, or a Touraine Mesland. At this year's TD dinner, a similarly styled wine, an affordable 2001 Teroldego-Rotaliano Reserva from Mezzacorona, worked really well. Zweigelt is another good choice. Among whites, Chenin Blanc rules.

                              1. In the Food Section of today's New York Times, the wine panel tastes $25-and-under wines in the context of a Thanksgiving meal. Written by Issac Asimov, the article and accompanying audio slide show will be accessible on the registration-required site for the next week. The wines:


                                Qupé Santa Ynez Valley Marsanne 2005, $22, ***
                                The most satisfactory match among the whites, "will go well with most dishes unless they are sweet."

                                François Cazin Cour-Cheverny Romorantin 2002, $18, ***
                                "Lovely and very refreshing ... bright acidity is great with food, even with sweet dishes."

                                Domaine de Bellivière Coteaux-du-Loir Cuvée L’Effraie 2004, $19, ***
                                "Fresh and nimble chenin blanc ... another highly versatile wine."

                                Paul Blanck et Fils Alsace Gewürztraminer Furstentum-Vieilles-Vignes Grand Cru 2001, $25, *(*)
                                "Big ... too much with dinner, but maybe with cheese."


                                Terre di Talamo Tuscany Piano Piano Rosato IGT 2005,$16, **(*)
                                Most tasters felt it lacked the wherewithal to stand up to the meal but found it "nice with hors d’oeuvres."


                                Shinn Estate Vineyards North Fork of Long Island Estate Merlot 2003, $24, ***(*)
                                "Dry, restrained and delicious"

                                Castello di Verduno Verduno Basadone Pelaverga Piccolo 2004, $13, ***
                                "easy to drink ... with unusual flavors ... that go well with food"

                                Fèlsina Chianti Classico Riserva Berardenga 2001, $25, **(*)

                                Montevertine Pian del Ciampolo Tuscany IGT 2003, $21, **(*)
                                Less is less. Normally a safe bet for turkey day but the 2003's a victim of the vintage.

                                Fabrice Gasnier Chinon Cuvée les Graves 2005, $16, **(*)
                                "too tannic ... needs another year of age to soften." A potential winner for Thanksgiving 2007, according to Asimov (I'd wait till 2010).

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: carswell

                                  The article and audio slide show are both available on the free part of nytimes.com this week. After a week, access is usually blocked to nonsubscribers.


                                2. I'm going to someone else's house for dinner for Thanksgiving I'll be bringing a Pinot Noir, it is the traditional Turkey wine afterall. And, since it is "the season" a Beaujolais Nouveau, last year I bought 1/2 case of the George DeBeouf and it was fantastic. I'm going to look for that one this year. It ran like $11.50 - $13.00 a bottle, really cheap, but delicious. I found an article from Las Vegas.

                                  Here it is: http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/2003/11...

                                  Enjoy your meal and wine!

                                  1. WHITES:
                                    Dry Riesling
                                    Gruner Veltliner
                                    Pinot Blanc
                                    Dry Gewurztraminer or Golden Traminer

                                    Pinot Noir
                                    Zinfandel (but not one of those high alcohol monsters)

                                    1. The wine section at www.about.com has some ideas and links as well.

                                      1. Well, let's see. From my recommedations, beyond the ones that can obviously be bought "American Made", I know that there is a winery in California doing a Gruner Veltliner, and that they are making Blaufrankisch wines up in Washington, where they call the grape Lemberger.

                                        Now here's a question- I don't know of any American winemakers who are "original" Americans. So how many generations back does the winemaker have to be in order to be considered American? What about wineries who hire foreigners to be their cellarmaster? What about people who have just arrived in the states and started making wines?

                                        I'm thinking that the spirit of Thanksgiving is about cultures coming together and breaking bread (a la the story about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans) So might it not be even more in the spirit of the holiday to have wines from other countries gracing the table?

                                        1. Evolution by Sokol Blossor from Oregon. A blend of nine white varietals. A perfect seemless integration with turkey. Had it for the first time last year on the rec of my local wine store and was overwhelmed by what a good match it is.


                                          1. My vote would be Pinot Noir or Zinfadel. My buddy realy knows his stuff and I've never gone wrong with any of his picks. So here they are. Enjoy!

                                            Hartford Zinfandel Russian River '04 ($25)
                                            Seghesio Zinfandel Old Vines '03 ($25)

                                            Yangarra Grenache '03 ($17)
                                            Yangarra GSM '04 ($22)

                                            Domaine Alfred Pinot Noir Chamisal "03 ($20)

                                            1. I really like sparkling italian rose wines in champagne flutes.

                                              The lightness and bubbles and slight sweetness go well with the traditional HUGE meal.

                                              They're festive and pretty and different for the holiday.

                                              1. Freixenet or Pouilly-Fuissé

                                                1. I have a 2003 M. Chapoutier Cotes-du-Rhone Belleruche for Thanksgiving dinner, along with a 2003 Murphy-Goode Fume Blanc and a 2005 McManis Vineyards Viognier. I am sure my brother will bring some type of white as well; he simply will not drink red wine with turkey.....it's like he thinks he will implode if he does!! I don't get it.