Fact: wine stores are intimidating. More truth: we’re here to help! We’ve tapped the minds of our resident wine experts – Ryan Arnold (Ēma, il Porcellino and Beatrix, Summer House Santa Monica, Stella Barra Pizzeria), Nate Redner (upcoming Booth One), Richard Hanauer (RPM Restaurants) and Kevin Bratt (Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab) – to talk you through selecting the perfect wine to pair with your Thanksgiving feast.
Wine fit for turkey: Look for wines that have a medium acidity and notes of fall orchard fruits like pears and apples. Ryan likes a Chenin Blanc – the texture and medium density stands up to turkey, while spiced notes are reminiscent of the season.
Words to look for on the label: Chenin Blanc, Loire Valley, Saumur, Vouvray, Sec (avoid anything labels with “Demi-Sec” and “Moelleux”)
Pairing wines with sides: Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without a spread of sides that showcase a range of different fall flavors. White wines with mineral and orchard fruit flavors and acidity that isn’t too piercing. Richard recommends picking up a Pinot Gris from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Words to look for on the label: Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon
To pair with Thanksgiving herbs: If rosemary, thyme and sage are making an appearance on your Thanksgiving table, Kevin suggests matching those with a nice dry or off-dry Riesling that complements those flavors. Look for Rieslings from the Napa Valley or Germany.
Words to look for on the label: Dry, Off-dry, Napa, Sonoma, Mosel, Germany, Finger Lakes
To pair with apple pie: Nate likes a Pineau de Charentes. Though traditionally served as an aperitif, the wine lends very well to desserts that aren’t overly sweet by displaying aromas of stone fruit, honeycomb and nutmeg which all pair very well with the flavors of America’s favorite dessert. Be sure to serve it chilled!
Words to look for: Pineau, Charente, Charente-Maritime
Chenin Blanc: 2015 Guiberteau Saumur Blanc “Les Moulins” from the Loire Vallley
Pinot Gris: 2015 Alexana Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley
Pineau de Charentes: Jean-Luc Pasquet, Paul-Marie et Fils
Riesling: 2014 Galerie, Riesling, Spring Mountain from California
2014 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler, Noble House Riesling from Mosel, Germany
Thanksgiving dinner, all around: Low tannins and red fruits are the way to go – Richard selects a Californian Zinfandel or Oregon Pinot Noir as the tannins work effortlessly with turkey, while the dramatic fruit also complements cranberry sauce.
Words to look for on the label: Zinfandel, Napa Valley, Russian River, Monterey, Santa Cruz || Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
For the dark meat: A full-bodied red with just the right amount of dark fruit and spice works well. Kevin goes for a wine named for the spirit of Thanksgiving, the Friends and Family red blend by RdV from Virginia.
Pinot Noir: 2014 Evesham Wood, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Zinfandel:2015 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley
Splurge Worthy: 2012 RdV, Friends and Family, Red Blend, Virginia
Champagne and Sparkling, the preferred gift for your hostess, is basically the best pre- and post-dinner drink. Toast a glass with loved ones before digging into Thanksgiving dinner, and don’t forget that those bubbles really help settle the stomach after a heavy meal.
Kevin likes to start the meal off with a sparkling Blanc de Blanc for its crisp and refreshing qualities. For an after-dinner sip, Ryan opts for a Brut Nature which is lower in sugar and plays well with that full stomach.
Champagne: 1998 Drappier Brut Nature Champagne
Sparkling: NV Treveri, Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut from Washington
After dinner drinks are great to extend your time with loved ones after the holiday meal. Ryan prefers a touch of amaro and recommends the Braulio Amaro with notes of douglas fir, winter spices, rosemary and tarragon. If you’re having Pecan Pie after dinner, Nate likes to complement the pie’s molasses and brown sugar flavors with a Pedro Ximenez Sherry which displays notes of caramelized sugar, dried figs and cinnamon. Bonus: you can often find older vintages of Pedro Jimenez Sherry that is affordable! Richard suggests always having a bottle of Madeira on the table after dinner. In particular, the Rancio Madeira boasts an inherent raisin flavor (known as Rancio) and aroma that pair wonderfully with the fruit desserts of the holiday. Fun Fact: Madeira was also the primary wine served during Thanksgiving for the first centuries of the colonial U.S.
Now that you’ve got your wine knowledge down, don’t forget to pre-order all of your Thanksgiving dinner dishes – check out what our restaurants are cooking!
From our family to yours, we want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving – may you enjoy great food, great wine and great company!