Wines for Thanksgiving 2013

A lot of wine “gurus” will tell you that it’s soooo tough to find good wines for Thanksgiving, because of the varied and intense flavors and textures of the Thanksgiving meal.  Hooey.  But you just might want to steer clear of Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot for one evening and try some other wines that really work well and that you might not otherwise try.  Here are some suggestions including the names of some producers that you might find at your neighborhood wine store.

Chenin Blanc:  This is among the best wines in the world for Turkey.  Vouvrays are Chenin Blanc-based wines from France (Champalou, Francois Pinon), and come in a variety of styles, from dry to off-dry, semi-sweet and sweet.  Good domestic Chenins from California are often combined with Viognier (Pine Ridge, Vinum). South Africa makes great Chenin Blancs, too (MAN Vintners, Mulderbosch, Raats).

Riesling.  This is the king of food wines.  Many if not most are naturally sweet and many are off the wall sweet.  Dry Riesling, though, can be a great wine for the Thanksgiving meal—look for a label that says “Trocken” (dry) or ask your retailer.  Most Rieslings from Alsace are dry (Hugel, Weinbosch), and you can find nice dry ones from NY’s Finger lakes (Dr. Konstantin Frank, Lamoreaux Landing) or Oregon’s Willamette Valley (Brooks, Chehalem).

Pinot Noir: This is a classic wine that won’t overpower your food as will a lot of Cabernet-based reds, and a lot of people really like it with turkey. It’s also great with a lot of stuffings, cranberries, and vegetable side dishes.  Try an affordable Burgundy from France (Drouhin, Faiveley, Louis Jadot), California’s Sonoma Valley (Aubert, Hanzell, Merry Edwards) or Chile (Montes, La Playa).

Thanksgiving is also a nice time to have some dessert wines on hand, especially Port: Ruby, which is typically young, rich and fruity (Sandeman, Warre’s), and Tawny (Cockburn, Taylor Fladgate), which is lighter in color and “nuttier” in flavor.

Have fun, drink wine, enjoy!

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