Wine is one of the most important parts of the Thanksgiving feast. From aperitifs to after-dinner wines, here is a list of great wines to serve at your Thanksgiving dinner.
When it comes to getting through Thanksgiving celebration, Champaign is an absolute must. Not only is Champagne an ideal aperitif wine that prepares your stomach and your taste buds for the dinner ahead, but it also an exciting accompaniment to many types of dishes. There is an unwritten rule for food and wine pairing: “When in doubt, pair Champagne.”
Step outside of the popular brands and get your hands on the grower Champagne.
Unlike the big famous Champagne houses or Cooperatives, the growers make their Champagne almost entirely from grapes they have grown themselves. Rather than the consistent blends that dominate the production of the biggest Champagne makers like Veuve, Moet, GH Mumm, these producers make wines that are unique and reflective of place.
A few examples include:
Drappier Brut Carte d’Or, $38,95: Pinot Noir dominant cuvee, made from grapes grown on Kimmeridgian soil of Cote de Bar in Aube, Champagne’s most southern part, producing wines with bright acidity but a bit more round and richer due to slightly warmer climate. Buy it here.
Champagne Labruyère Anthologie Grand Cru Rose NV, $54.99: extra brut rosé Anthologie from Labruyere family’s grand cru vineyard in Verzenay. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, made by blending method, Dosage 4g/l. Fine mousse and lovely brioche aroma with notes of black cherry and freshly baked sour bread. Elegant and perfectly balanced, the best rosé champagne I’ve ever tasted. Buy it here.
Beaujolais is a classic choice for the Thanksgiving table. Typically made of Gamay grape, these wines are fresh and juicy, and go exceptionally well with the entire range of Thanksgiving dishes. Don’t’ limit yourself with 10 Cru Beaujolais, there are many great wines produced in Beaujolais and Beaujolais Village appellations. If you love Pinot Noir but looking for a more affordable alternative, you will be surprised to learn what an incredible quality and value Beaujolais wines deliver. Served them slightly chilled.
Bonnet Rouge Gamay, Beaujolais Rouge 2013, $8.95: semi-carbonic maceration, fresh red fruit, bright acidity with a bit of “a barnyard funk”, ridiculously inexpensive wine with distinctive character. Buy it here.
Charly Thevenet ‘Grain Et Granite’, Regnie 2016, $34.95: extremely perfumed and bright with aromas of wild strawberry, vanilla, beeswax. Medium body, fine tannins, and menthol-laced finish. Beautiful old vine Gamay from Beaujolais rising star. Buy it here.
Domaine Piron-Lameloise Quartz Chenas 2014, $24,99: Savory and smoky with aromas and flavors reminiscent of leather, dry wood, candles and rose petal. Complex, elegant and age-worthy. Buy it here.
Verdicchio is Italy’s greatest native white grape variety popular in central Italy, especially in the eastern part of Le Marche region and its winemaking district Castelli di Jesi. Look for Verdicchio Riserva and wines at least partially aged in oak for extra complexity and round mouthfeel.
Umani Ronchi is one of the most consistent wine producers of Le Marche and Abruzzo, producing high-quality craft wines, characterized by delicacy and elegance.
Casal Di Serra Verdicchio Dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico Superiore 2018, $17 : a very nice expression of Verdicchio – lively floral aromatics and complexity. Aging on lees gives Casal di Serra some extra smoothness and weight. It is similar to Sauvignon Blanc in both, its weight, high acidity, and some of the flavor profile, particularly notes of aromatic herbs and flowers. Buy it here.
Plenio Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio DOCG Classico Riserva 2017, $30: the most balanced of all Verdicchio wines from Umani Ronchi. Complex and well-structured, with rich flavors of wildflowers, lemons and Verdicchio’s signature almond aftertaste. Buy it here.
For Italian wine lovers, Valpolicella is a solid Thanksgiving pairing.
Besides Italy’s most prestigious and age-worthy Amarone, the Valpolicella region produces 3 other distinctive wine styles: light-bodied Valpolicella, medium-bodied Ripasso and sweet Recioto. All four styles are made differently, but from the same blend of native grapes, with Corvina at their heart.
Valpolicella is the name of both, the region and the appellation. It is a young medium to light-bodied wine, with flavors of bright red fruit, rose petal and spicy aftertaste. It’s an easy-drinking and extremely food-friendly wine. Thanks to its soft tannins and bright acidity, Valpolicella makes a perfect pairing with roasted poultry, turkey, cured meats, and grilled vegetables.
Albino Armani Valpolicella Classico Superiore Egle 2017, $16,99: bright and lively on the palate, with notes of wild cherry and prune. If you’re serving meat-based pasta, cured or stuffed meat, or Thanksgiving rice pilaf, this Valpolicella will make a great pairing. Buy it here.
Secondo Marco Valpolicella DOC Classico 2016, $19: medium-bodied juicy red with notes of sour red cheery and aromatic herbs. With its bright acidity and soft tannins, this wine is perfectly suited to a wide range of foods, from cured meats, grilled and roasted poultry and even salmon, if you are not into traditional Thanksgiving. Buy it here.
Valpolicella Ripasso is a medium-bodied wine, made using ‘Ripasso’ method. It is made by combining finished Valpolicella wine with drained off grape skins and seeds from the production of Amarone.
Boscaini Carlo Ripasso DOC Classico Superiore 2016, $22: more powerful wine than Valpolicella, but less straight-forward than Amarone; beautifully perfumed wine with flavors of dry cherry, leather, tobacco and a hint of smokiness; a great pair for roasted Brussel sprouts, roasted peppers, casseroles and red meat dishes. Buy it here.
Instead of Zinfandel, opt for an Amarone della Valpolicella. Amarone is a powerful wine high in alcohol, traditionally made from partially dried grapes (appassimento) that brings forth red fruit richness, balsamic notes, and sometimes jammy flavors.
Villa San Carlo Amarone DOCG 2012, $50: Intense and elegant with flavors of dark cherry preserves, black pepper and chocolate. An ideal wine to pair with blue cheese – mushrooms stuffed tenderloin, braised beef short-ribs, or any other red meat. Buy it here.
Madeira – fortified wine from the Portuguese island of the same name, was the favorite wine of America’s Founding Fathers. Ranging from dry aperitifs to rich dessert wines, with consistently fresh acidity across all styles, Madeira pairs well with almost any food. This semi-sweet Special Reserve Madeira from Rare Wine Co. Historic Series is wonderful after-dinner delight.
Rare Wine Co. Boiston Bual Madeira Special Reserve, $55.99: with just enough sweetness to be considered after-dinner wine, this Madeira boasts with incredible balance and refreshing acidity, featuring notes of dry fruit, orange peel, baking spice and woodsmoke. Buy it here.
Cheers y’all, and happy Thanksgiving!