The best wines to drink this Thanksgiving
With the imminent arrival of friends and family for Thanksgiving, here are six wines that you should be serving them to go with turkey, sprouts and pumpkin pie. Plus some bonus extras…
Americans are now the biggest consumers of Champagne, overtaking the Brits last year, and, given that Thanksgiving only happens once a year, it’s the perfect time to open a prestige cuvée ahead of the feasting festivities. db‘s recommendation gained a coveted Master medal at the 2022 edition of the Global Champagne Masters.
GRAND SIÈCLE, ITERATION NO.25, NV
“Relatively under the radar for a house so famous for its rosé, this prestige cuvée is a stunner. Blending the best wines from a mix of fine vintages (2008, 2007 and 2006), Laurent-Perrier eschew the usual single harvest approach for their top expression, and craft this layered, thrilling Champagne for immediate consumption, or, should you like a more evolved fizz, further ageing. The style is a delicious mix of semi-mature and fresh fruit flavours, with some tinned pineapple and dried citrus, creamy coffee and roasted nuts, then baked bread, crisp apple and Comice pear, complemented by a long, dry, chalky-tasting finish.” Patrick Schmitt MW RRP: US$200
The main event
Pinot Noir is a versatile wine when it comes to pairing due to its mellow tannins and fresh acidity, so it will work with the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. There is no shortage of producers across the United States making the most of “the heartbreak grape”, and these two expressions offer two distinct, but agreeable regional styles at two price points. Both of these recommendations came from this year’s Global Pinot Noir Masters. To read the full list of medalists, click here.
JOEL GOTT OREGON PINOT NOIR, 2019
“A consistent Gold medallist in our annual Pinot Noir Masters, Joel Gott seems able to capture the bright, mouthwatering cherry and plum character of Oregon Pinot without charging a high price, by this sought-after region’s standards. Complementing the juicy-fresh fruit is a touch of caramel, toast and some quite firm – if fine – tannin, to give a pleasingly dry finish to this layered and lifted Pinot.” Patrick Schmitt MW RRP: US$30
PATZ & HALL HYDE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR, 2019
“Using Pinot Noir from this hugely sought-after site in the Napa Valley – the Hyde Vineyard – is this exceptional wine from Patz & Hall. Loaded with fleshy dark cherry, ripe strawberry, sweet blood orange, and some tomato, chocolate and vanilla, it’s a big, layered Pinot, but, with plenty of bright acidity and fine-grained dry tannin, it’s also a wonderfully mouthwatering wine.” Patrick Schmitt MW RRP: US$70
Of course, not everyone has turkey. For those going for a red meat roast, they might wish for a robuster wine at the table to go with it, and that’s where Cabernet Sauvignon comes in. Though California produces its fair share (with several receiving medals at this year’s Global Cabernet Sauvignon Masters), the expression below comes from Washington State’s Columbia Valley, a region that is emerging as a powerhouse of American wine.
CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE COLD CREEK VINEYARD, 2018
“Using fruit from one of Washington State’s most celebrated sites, the 50 year-old Cold Creek Vineyard, this Columbia Valley Cabernet is a generous, structured, complex and beautifully balanced glass of red. There’s plenty of barrel-influenced characters, from toast to roasted coffee, vanilla and caramel, which complement the fleshy, ripe blackcurrant fruit, and supporting frame of fine-grained dry tannin, which lingers after you’ve swallowed this luscious Cabernet, helping to refresh the mouth in preparation for another sip.” Patrick Schmitt MW RRP: US$30
But, though turkeys or joints of meat might be the centrepiece in most households across the US, the vegetable sides should not be overlooked – and with a growing number of people adopting vegetarian or vegan diets, finding wines to go with squash, sprouts and green bean casserole has never been more important. Sauvignon Blanc’s aromatic attributes and good acidity means that it goes well with spiced, buttery food, which Thanksgiving happens to have in abundance. The following was one of db‘s favourites from last year.
KENDALL-JACKSON VINTNERS RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC, 2020
“Kendall-Jackson has more than 12,000 acres located on the mountains, hillsides and benches of California’s best cool, coastal sub-regions throughout Sonoma, Napa, Monterey, and Mendocino counties, all farmed sustainably. This wine certainly shows the care and attention given to the vineyards. Mid-weight with racy acidity giving structure, the wine has yellow plum, pineapple and golden apple flavours with vanilla pod accents. Touches of oregano, white pepper and spice add complexity before leading onto a long, sappy finish. A good choice with the turkey or grilled chicken.” Patricia Stefanowicz MW RRP: US$12.99
The sweeter side
Of course, it’s important to leave room in your glass for a dessert wine. Pumpkin pie is probably the most classic choice, with its combination of sweet, savoury and spiced aromas whisking even the staunchest European across the Atlantic. Pecan, apple and cherry are also popular options. A sweet filling encased in buttery pastry calls for a sweet wine with good acidity. There are plenty of options, from Sauternes to Passito di Pantelleria, but for our choice we’ve taken a leaf out of our Spring Tasting.
ROYAL TOKAJI, BY APPOINTMENT ONLY FORDÍTÁS, 2016
“From an exceptionally good vintage with heavy botrytis, the 2016 limited-edition Fordítás was made with six puttonyos aszú paste. The wine, medium deep gold in colour, displays lemon custard, ripe apricots and orange marmalade, with notes of citrus zest and a light earthiness. Light in body, the sweet palate is supported by lively acidity and shows lovely fruit and creamy texture and finishes with great definition and length.” Patricia Stefanowicz MW
And now for something completely different
Here are some other options that db has not tried, but that might raise a smile as you raise your glass at the dinner table…
CRAN-GOSE TART CRANBERRY ALE
Virginia-based Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co. have created a seasonal ale that would could well replace the cranberry sauce on your plate. The addition of puréed cranberry gives this 4% ABV beer a bracing tartness and a delightful pink hue.
WHOLE HOG PUMPKIN ALE
Hailing from the great state of Wisconsin, this combines the already unusual beer-additions of cinnamon and nutmeg with the actual flesh from actual pumpkins. Though most pumpkin ales, and there is a surprising number of them across the US, appear to only be available from August to October, this is your reminder to stock up for next year.
After what can be a feat of gastronomic endurance, it’s nice to cap things off with something simple, seasonal and slightly sage-y to sip on. Though the pungent herb is more likely to be found in stuffing than in a cocktail, there are numerous recipes for everything from sage Martinis to a charred sage Old Fashioned (just crack open a window when making the latter).
Beyond buying wine for home consumption during the holiday, according to data published a few years ago, Thanksgiving presents a major opportunity for wine sales in the US on-trade.