We tapped our tasting team for their top American wines to pop open on Thanksgiving. Because who better than the people who sniff and sip their way through the best bottles to recommend our holiday pours?
Alexander Peartree, Assistant Tasting Director
My mom loves her Pinot Grigio, and I can’t blame her. In most cases, it’s light, simple and perfectly enjoyable. However, she’s not the only one drinking at the table—and let’s face it, it’s about time I ushered in a slight change. Staying in the Pinot family, I’d rather pour Left Foot Charley’s 2014 Island View Corner Pinot Blanc from the northern tip of Michigan. It’s crisp with green apple tones, yet carries some weight and texture, making it a bit more enticing for a Turkey Day pour.
While Beaujolais Nouveau has its place, I’m inclined to go bit more nontraditional. Chateau Grand Traverse’s 2012 Reserve Gamay, from the Mitten State’s Old Mission Peninsula, offers more finesse to a grape that’s often written off as simply tutti-frutti. Cranberry-driven with a white pepper kick, this light- to medium-bodied red will dispel any wine snob’s preconceived notions of Michigan wine.
I’m always looking for that wine that’s going to push the boundaries of my family’s wine-drinking comfort zone, and a Pinotage from Virginia fits the bill. Lovingston’s 2013 Gilbert’s Vineyard Pinotage seamlessly balances racy red-fruit tones with savory herbs and smoky game. It’s easy to pair alongside the cornucopia of dishes on the table, yet it also lends an exotic kick to an otherwise traditional affair.
I love the sheer versatility of sparkling wines, ushering dinner from apéritif to dessert. These pours are a must for any holiday at my house. Trump’s 2008 Brut Reserve marries crisp apple and lemon flavors with savory, nutty tones, all carried by lively, energetic bubbles. It’s perfect to sip on its own or to pair alongside the myriad of Thanksgiving dishes. While the name might ignite some political discourse, we’ll be sure to set our differences aside come the end of this delicious bottle.
There’s nothing better than a homemade pecan pie, and my grandma makes a killer one. Toasty, nutty and rich, made with love—what more could you ask for? Don’t forget the wine pairing! Good thing I happen to have a bottle of the Haak 2011 Jacquez Madeira hailing from Texas. Dark, savory and mildly sweet, with this in my glass, the pie has met its match.
Fiona Adams, Tasting Coordinator
I love rosé year round, and it’s a particular favorite of mine to serve around the holidays. In cooler months, I prefer one with more structure, with notes of cranberry and raspberry, and a darker rose color. Brooklyn Oenology’s 2014 Cabernet Franc Rosé only gets better with a little time in bottle, and while delicious all season long, it will pair wonderfully with a classic Thanksgiving spread.
I shy away from heavier reds on Thanksgiving, a feast notorious for causing guests to fall asleep. You don’t want your wine pairing to exacerbate the problem. Broc Cellars’ 2014 Carignan is great middle ground for those looking for a bolder red. With great structure and weight on the palate, there’s no lack of acidity. Carignan does not get a lot of love as a single varietal wine, and it’s sadly often dismissed as a blending grape. It’s refreshing to see it expressed so beautifully on its own.
When gathering large groups with varying levels of wine knowledge, it seems prudent to serve something more familiar or safe. This is not that wine. Palmina’s 2014 Pinot Grigio is a more recognizable varietal wine, but it’s by no means basic. Though I’m known to serve a plethora of Riesling during Thanksgiving, I love the texture of this Pinot Grigio. Its comfortable weight is balanced by a racy, oyster water-like acidity. It’s excellent paired with charcuterie and will also carry through dinner.
Carrie Dykes, Assistant Tasting Coordinator
Coming from an Irish-American family, we finish our meal with Irish coffee and a whiskey cake, but during the feast, we enhance our tryptophan-induced comas with wine. To please a smattering of different tastes, I bring wine that my family might not have chosen themselves, but will pair nicely and open them up to something new. Living in the Hudson Valley, I want to represent New York State wines, and Dr. Konstantin Frank’s 2012 Gewürztraminer is made so well. Luscious lychee and fragrant rose notes accompany a tart cranberry sauce, and the slick minerality acts as a palate cleanser between all the dishes being passed around. It has the complexity to hold up to the turkey, and the fruitiness to sidle alongside pumpkin pie.
My maiden name is Ehler, and my parents bought a bottle of Ehler’s Estate Merlot at some point in the ‘80s, intending to cellar it until I graduated college. Well, it didn’t last that long, since my friends and I drank it a few years early. I now find myself buying a bottle for the holidays, my way of giving thanks to my parents for not murdering the 17-year-old me. Fortunately, the 2012 Merlot offering also happens to be a perfect accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner. Full of autumnal spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and coriander, this silky, round charmer will amplify and harmonize with your meal.