The fall and harvest season is upon us, Thanksgiving is just
around the corner, and big, indoor feasts will soon be the
order of the day.
Trying to pull off a near-flawless menu, especially while
coping with family and out-of-town guests, can be a thankless
task. So you might be happy to know that choosing wines to
serve with traditional autumn foods is a relatively easy,
practically foolproof undertaking.
Baked squash, creamy pumpkin soup, sautéed carrots, green
beans, mashed potatoes, and even turkey and bread stuffing
all have one thing in common…they don’t require much more
than either a drizzle of butter or a spritz of salt and pepper
to make them complete.
Serving these foods—or for that matter, any other foods that
aren’t too heavily seasoned or spiced—gives you the luxury of
pairing them with a number of different wines. And because
there’s a wine to fit every budget, all you have to remember is
to provide your guests with plenty of variety. It doesn’t get
much easier than that.
Start it out light
Riesling and Gewurztraminer are considered by many to be
standard Thanksgiving wine choices, so why not mix things
up and start off with a bottle of bubbly or something light as a
nice alternative? These wines should pair well with appetizers
or can also be served during the early stages of the meal.
From Northeastern Italy, the Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene
Prosecco (about $25) is a great opener to have on hand for
your harvest dinner. Gentle green pear and apple flavors
lead off and then melt into more of a citrus taste-profile that
suggests lemon cream. The sparkling wine’s ultra-fine bubbles
also give it a near-silky quality and luxurious finish.
For a lighter-style white wine, try the Tall Sage 2015
Chardonnay (about $10) from Washington’s Goose Ridge
Estate Vineyards & Winery. It should pair well with your
traditional Thanksgiving dinner and it’s priced right for those
on a budget.
Rosés are also price-friendly wines that look pretty, taste
delicious, and often make excellent food-pairing choices. A
couple of suggestions: The Bergevin Lane 2015 Linen Rosé
from Walla Walla (about $15) and the Frescobaldi Toscana
Alie Rosé (about $18). The Bergevin Lane Rosé displays
juicy watermelon and strawberry flavors to start, with edgier
rhubarb and a trace of lime zest on a dry finish; while the
Frescobaldi Rosé is a bit more understated, with gentle aromas
and flavors of field berries followed by a brisk finish that’s
highlighted with a splash of kiwi fruit.
The middle stanza
Red wine with white meat? Absolutely! In fact, Pinot
Noir may be the quintessential red wine to serve with a
Thanksgiving turkey dinner. Its light to medium-bodied style
and high acid content make it a natural to pair with poultry
and allow it to cut through creamy sauces and gravies.
Winemaker Evan Bellingar has done a fine job with his
first commercially released vintage, the Bellingar Estates 2014
Oregon Pinot Noir (about $20). It opens with fragrant red
cherry aromas and flavors before transitioning into brighter,
leaner fruits of raspberry and cranberry and a crisp finish
with a touch of earthiness. An added bonus for Oregon Pinot
lovers: the highly affordable $20-a-bottle price tag.
Another outstanding and nicely priced Pinot is the Kim
Crawford South Island, New Zealand 2014 Pinot Noir (about
$19). Lovely star anise on the nose, berry fruit on the mid-
palate and tangy, dried cranberry accents make this wine a
sensory delight. It also carries a smoky, almost sultry quality,
enhanced by the toasted oak finish and an underlying trace
If you prefer to stay with white wines, New Zealand
has you covered as well, with the Kim Crawford 2015
Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (about $18). Bold citrus and
lime aromas start you off, with tangy gooseberry and tropical
fruit flavors, racy acidity, and crush of green herbs on the
finish. A possible food-pairing suggestion: oyster stuffing.
And those who prefer their Chardonnays unoaked should
enjoy Oregon’s Stoller Family Estate 2015 Dundee Hills
Chardonnay (about $25). Freshly baked brioche aromatics,
bright Fuji apple flavors, and a slightly citrusy finish with
a hint of lemon chiffon all add up to a delightful wine that
should pair well with roasted root vegetables, chicken, goose,
There’s also absolutely no reason one can’t serve a more
fullbodied red wine such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or
Syrah with a harvest meal. Just avoid a younger, bolder,
and overly tannic red (which might overwhelm the food) and
choose something softer, mellower and perhaps a touch on the
fruity side and you should be just fine.
The Lobo Hills 2013 Right Bank Blend, Columbia Valley
(about $20) is a perfect example of an excellent red wine to
have at your Thanksgiving table. Comprised of 87-percent
Merlot and four other Bordeaux region red varietals, it
features a tasty array of blackberry, black currant, and cherry
fruit along with vanilla bean nuances that are perfectly
balanced by a trailing note of gentle acidity.
Also notable is the Ginkgo Forest 2010 Reserve Cabernet
Sauvignon (about $30). Sourced from Washington’s Wahluke
Slope region, this Cabernet is drinking beautifully with
luscious black cherry and plum flavors that are accentuated
with a whisper of smokiness on a plush, velvety finish. It’s a
gorgeous red wine that should be served and savored at the
latter stages of your meal.