Thanksgiving wine open thread

thanksgiving turkey Ah, Thanksgiving, it has a habit of recurring once a year. And with it come questions about what to serve with a meal whose flavors range from a neutral turkey to the crazy sides of candied yams and cranberry sauce.

Let’s make this an open thread to discuss all turkey-day wine questions. If you’ve never commented and have a query, now’s your chance to say hi! I’ll start the Butterball rolling with just two suggestions.

1. If I were having a lot of people over to my house for Thanksgiving (or were responsible for the wine at someone else’s house), I’d have lots of wine, in a variety of styles. I’d make it a tasting for people who don’t usually get to taste a lot of different things–red, white and bubbly–yet have some conventional choices for those relatives who don’t want a real challenge. I’d keep the pre bottle price down, maybe even throw in a box wine, and budget about a half a bottle per adult.

2. If I were having a more intimate Thanksgiving with known wine enthusiasts, I’d have fewer, more expensive wines.

What are you planning on serving and what’s your strategy? Also, is anyone having a non-turkey Thanksgiving–or is that heresy?

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32 Responses to “Thanksgiving wine open thread”


  1. There are so many flavors on the Turkey-Day table that the only way for me to deal with it all is to serve multiple wines, most of them fairly rich and blowsy.
    Big Chards and Zins seems to satisfy most of my less wine-savvy family.
    If I happen to encounter a kindred geek, I’ll share some of my Refosco, with it’s tobacco leafiness, or Friulano with it’s natural bitter-almond snap.


  2. Personally, I’ll probably be drinking beer. Like Wayne said, there are so many flavors on the table. Given that, don’t you think the uniqueness of each bottle will get lost in the sea of all those options? And isn’t that a little confusing to the palate? Happy Turkey Day everyone!


  3. People overthink Thanksgiving wines. Open a lot of bottles — red, white, and don’t skip the pink — and put them on a sideboard, and let everyone drink what they want.

    Don’t overspend because the focus isn’t on wine, and the meal isn’t great for pairing.

    And just don’t worry about it. This is good advice any day of the year, even better on a crowded family holiday.


  4. I have, for the last few years, served beer and wine both. The beer pairs better, to my palate. I tend to do some wild ales to start, some blondes/wheat beers in the middle, and some barrel aged at the end, and find it’s a very solid pairing.

    I always serve wine as well, and it has been largely ok, but never great. The highlights have been riesling (off-dry), and beaujolais cru, with pinot gris, some roses, and pinots performing satisfactorily.


  5. I agree with Blake’s approach, with the addition of breaking out the box wine as an economy move after the main meal for the remainder of the football watching. Most of our family spends the night on Thanksgiving (no driving), so Tyler’s half-bottle per adult would leave us short over the course of our extended day!


  6. For us, it is the Christine/Blake approach. I won’t say quantity over quality but we go for 2 $10-$15 bt rather than a $30-$35 bt. We have a mix of wine industry and non industry people so people aim to bring “stump the geeks” wine as well. Usually start with Cava for those in the kitchen and then a mix of styles out on the bar and always some hard cider. And the beauty of Manhattan? Home is just a cab ride away.


  7. I’ll be looking for a good place for fish tacos on the beach in Cozumel, and holding off on wine and beer until Sunday night at which point I suspect I won’t be able to taste a darn thing, and I’m sure it will taste fantastic…


  8. Start everything off with Cava or Prosecco, something cheap, bubbly fun. At meal time you certainly need a mix of approachable palate pleasers in red and white. This year we’re going with cru Bojo and a California Pinot for red. For white a Sancerre for those who want something crisp and light to contrast a heavy meal and a Washington State Chardonnay for something with a bit more body.


  9. For me, holidays, like Thanksgiving, are about sharing with friends and family, remembering all the good times and special people in our lives and making the holiday all that it should be… a celebration. Since everyone, these days, has their own style of cooking the turkey (deep fried, cajon style, Tuscan turkey, turkey cooked on a spit, as well as, the good old Butterball oven recipe), it is hard to chose a wine that pairs perfectly with the meal. But since we are not cooking any old turkey and Aunt Harriet isn’t bringing any old sweet potato pie to the feast, maybe we should put the same amount of effort into chosing the wine. After all, it is our thing, isn’t it? And, it is Thanksgiving.


  10. We always have a mixed group – a couple of true wine lovers, a couple just below that level, a few that don’t really care, a few beer drinkers and a couple of designated drivers. I shouldn’t forget the one person who would pour himself a near full glass of 1982 Bordeaux and then throw a couple of ice cubes in it before deciding he doesn’t like it.

    Beer, a few off dry white wines, an inexpensive basic red, and after most of the family leaves I’ll break out a good bottle for the two or three wine drinkers to work on while we clean up the mess.


  11. I’m only having 3 people and my mother doesn’t care for wine, so I’ll fix her a fruity margarita. For the 2 of us I’m torn between a Bollinger, a Turley Zin or Roessler Pinot Noir. I guess it’s win-win, but I’d like to try all of them.


  12. Read your NYC wine bar review/list– in NYC looking for wine bar open before 3pm… Any ideas? Laci and Jed


  13. Amen, Carole! Somebody else is cooking something special, and it’s up to the Family Geek to bring something worthwhile to drink.

    For this year’s Thanksgiving dinner:

    Beaujolais Nouveau, because it’s a harvest wine, and this is a celebration of the harvest, right? And it’s inexpensive, and even guests who don’t really care much about wine will drink it and ask for more.

    For those who do care: Cru Beaujolais, preferably Chiroubles, because it’s light and often has a little cranberry note. If dinner lasts long enough, maybe bring out something from the Côte Chalonnaise, nothing too fancy. Especially after reading Dan’s story about ice cubes in the ’82…

    Really, though, if ever there was a meal that called for drinking whatever it is that really makes you happy, this is it.

    PS: There will be some Edelzwicker in the fridge for anyone who wants white. It’s good, it doesn’t cost much, and it’s fun to say.


  14. Pinot noir heavy american sparkling to go with the smoked/bbq’d turkey. The little bolder fruit from the pinot content should stand up to the smokiness, and compliment the rest of the dishes. Sparkling goes with everything, of course. Oregon Pinot was the name of the game last year, and dry riesling the year before. both worked quite well.

    Despite the urging of coworkers, I haven’t been able to commit to sparkling red (in the vein of a sparkling shiraz or pinot).


  15. [...] Thanksgiving Wine Open Thread Dr. Vino has a nice little Thanksgiving wine conversation happening where everyone can chime in with their thoughts.  Advice ranges from Big Zins to beer-it! [...]


  16. I don’t use marshmallows or green bean beans. My Thanksgiving menu includes stuffing with dried fruits, Marsala, and sherry; cranberries simmered in pinot with juniper berries and cinnamon; sweet potatoe casserole with apples and pecans, and a maple glazed turkey. For some reason a very fruity zin just works (usually I would avoid such a high alcohol wine). Because it is a small gathering, I have the zin and a reisling for the white wine drinkers. I think we’ll be fine.


  17. I am cooking TG again this year, and this year we are thankful for the baby girl that was born to us this past Thursday. So TG will also be her one week birthday (if there needs to be such a thing). As both the host and the resident wine geek I like to take the chance to share the wealth. I will start with some Rose Cava, progress to some whites, probably muscadet and village white burg, then move on to light reds suited to a Thanksgiving meal. I think this year a Guion Prestige (b/c I was so happy with the cuvee domaine recently), a Terres Dorees Morgon, and if necessary perhaps the Leroy Bourgogne 2007, a wine that I have enjoyed and whose fruitiness, perhaps uncharacteristic for the region, would play well with these diverse flavors.

    And as host, I don’t have to drive. I do, however, get to wake up every two hours with a newborn baby!


  18. Do any of the beer drinkers find beer too filling with this calorific meal?

    Blake – yes, rose can work well.

    @Christine – yes, add more for football viewing!

    @Damien – good luck with your Ironman Triathlon–impressive!

    @Michael – sounds like great selections. Congratulations on the new arrival!

    The first Thanksgiving meal consisted of “fowle” and “Deere.” So who’s having venison? http://bit.ly/97Ou0f


  19. One of my favorites for red is a Cru Beaujolais, but this year I am going with a Cleto Chiarli “Enrico Cialdini” Grasparossa di Castelvetro” (real lambrusco). Dry, frothy, briar-like scent, spice, modest alc.

    One of my most consistent whites has been a German gewurztraminer like Fitz-Ritter. Not sweet like domestics and less dry and bitter than some Alsacians.

    However, as mentioned by another here, I’m going to add as a twist, a Belgian ale, either the Fantome La Dalmatienne or La Chouffe.

    A sure hit in the past for a sparkler is a Bugey-Cerdon such as Renardat-Fache from the Jura. Mostly a Gamay-Poulsard blend, this lightly charged, lightly sweet red sparkler is so good and only about 7% alc. Sanity now!, as Frank Costanza would say.

    If there were more people at the able I’d add a pineau d’aunis from the Touraine. Maybe with leftovers.


  20. Every year we go to my in laws. For me it is far more about the wine than anything else. They are Italian and dig food, but for weeks prior to the big day I start asking my wife “what do you think your dad will open on thanksgiving?” He is the person who got me interested in wine almost 11 years ago and he knows I love pinot. The same favorites usually show up year after year; Martinelli, Flowers, Etude, Turley, Dehlinger.

    We go through a LOT of bottles, typically 2 per person and everybody sleeps there, nobody drives.


  21. As like on other festive day, on thanksgiving I would dish up the excellent Spätburgunder (Pinot Noire) of our region in soutwestern Germany. It has a full-bodied and fruity taste and is comparatively cheap for the very good taste you get for the price (around 7 to 10 € per bottle).


  22. OK. I am glad to see people picking Beaujolais.
    It does go well with many of the dishes.

    But for me it really depends on the side dishes also, not just the Turkey.
    What kind of stuffing?
    What kinds of casseroles? Etc…

    I have served everything from light german wines to low tannic soft reds. I have never heard any one complain about the food/wine pairings when I did this.

    Serve what you like, but my preferrence would not include heavy reds at all. If you insist on serving a special heavier red, serve a small ammount with cheese after the main courses or maybe a special Cab or Zin with Chocolate (dark) cake.


  23. I love that photo of the turkey! It’s like pleading to people not to kill their kinds so they would have a festive Thanksgiving. Anyhow, I think that I don’t mind what would be served on the table as long as there is good wine to drink.


  24. Thanksgiving! There are lots of appetizers such as dark turkey meat, mashed potatoes, yams, herb-filled stuffing and cranberry relish. Absolutely wine, I like sparkling wine. It have to be served!


  25. small bone-in pork roast marinated for 2 days in white vermouth, sherry vinegar, fresh herbs, garlic, onions, carrots then grilled over charcoal
    Garlic mashed potatoes

    With temps in the 30′s, it’ll be Duval-Leroy and moving on to one or more of the following: Turley or Elyse Zin, Termes Toro, Allegrini Amarone…


  26. I love the photo.
    May I copy it for a story in my blog?


  27. Would love to start a conversation on Thanksgiving wine etiquette. What do you do when a guest brings a wine to dinner telling you it is special large format bottle, given by friends, saved for the occassion? Although I didn’t mind pouring the wine (quite different from what I would usually pair with the meal), the wine was corked and my husband and I seemed to be the only ones who noticed. Can I point out that it is corked and suggest that we open my wine, or do I have to grin and bear it?


  28. [...] comments: Would love to start a conversation on Thanksgiving wine etiquette. What do you do when a guest [...]


  29. Laurie

    I think you use the moment as a teachable one.

    Many people at the table may not like the wine as much as they ought to.

    They should be aware that the wine is flawed. In addition, maybe the person who brought the wine can get a refund from their wine merchant.


  30. Dr. – Your comments to Laurie were the essence of diplomacy – let the provider enjoy their moment while still offering an alternative to those who wish.
    Also second your comment regarding diversity of bottles at an event. For Thanksgiving we enjoyed a Montinore Pinot Gris 08, a La Spinetta Vermentino 09, an Ecard Santenay 06, a cc: Napa Cab Sauv 07 from Betts & Scholl, and a Chateau Rahoul Graves 82. No worry about finishing every bottle, but wonderful to try the range of wine against the range of food tastes, and all bottles were under $25, most under $20.


  31. Thanks, Peter!

    And thanks, Laurie, for the fodder for discussion!

    I made it into a separate post here:
    http://bit.ly/dWgfe8


  32. Thanksgiving at my place is an all-day cheesy movie fest along with the culinary debauchery, so the potables started early as well with Chimay Red Label with the appetizers.

    For the meal I opened an off-dry Riesling, a Russian River Chard, and a Beaujolais-Villages (plus sparkling cherry juice for the non-drinkers). Classic roast turkey, no horrid marshmallow monstrosities; I had a pour of each bottle and they all seemed to pair just fine.

    An absolutely stellar cane-cut Barossa Semillon about blew our minds with the dessert. Plus there were a few selected single-malts on hand for with the coffee and tea afterward.

    I had two 750s of each wine for 9 of us and never touched any of the second bottles (O darn! More for me).

    Now I’m just thankful to still fit into my work clothes…


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