It should go without saying that a holiday which revolves solely around eating delicious home-cooked food and drinking wine is a favorite of many at this magazine. But what will the editors and staff of Wine Enthusiast really have on their own Thanksgiving tables? We went around #WEHQ and quizzed our office staff on what they would be bringing to dinner this Thursday and, more importantly, why. Here’s what they said.
My family loves wine, but the finer points are often lost on them. Given my job, I’m usually tasked with providing the alcohol at gatherings, but generally grab some cheap plonk for them and set aside two bottles of something nicer for myself.
However, this year I get to stay within my budget and not have to hide bottles, after discovering the Sheldrake Point 2016 Estate Bottled Gamay Noir. I’ve been fortunate enough to sample it in the office, taste at the winery (including the pricier Reserve offering), take it camping with me, and this wine has never failed to please. Eureka! A bottle that is both casual and delicious, approachable yet funky, New York-made (something Dad will appreciate) and goes great with overcooked vegetables, Pepperidge Farm stuffing and canned cranberry sauce.
I’ll still bring a bottle of Malbec for my sister, but it’s nice to have an affordable conversation piece for the 20-somethings at dinner who have an open mind for Finger Lakes wine.
Carrie Dykes, Tasting Coordinator
For Thanksgiving this year, I’m bringing a wide spread. The Terroir Al Límit 2016 Roc d’Aubaga Rosé from Priorat proves that you can drink rosé with heavier meals in the fall and winter. This wine is somewhere between a rosé and a red, complex with layers of farmyard and fruit. The tannic structure gives it enough heft for turkey smothered in Nana’s gravy, but is still bright and fresh enough for lighter apps.
The holiday also isn’t complete without Riesling—simply a magical pairing wine. The Villa Huesgen 2016 1735 Riesling from the Mosel is a great bottle to bring. It’s not too pricey and you won’t be too upset when the dog accidentally knocks a glass onto your lap.
Mt. Defiance Farmhouse Hard Cider is also a great choice, because you’ll need an acidic lift to cut through Aunt Ethyl’s snide remarks. This dry and funky cider will do the trick. If you still have room for food by the time you get to this, it pairs beautifully with hard, sharp cheeses and apricots.
And finally, for dessert (after we’ve already changed into our stretchy pants), Barboursville Paxxito is the perfect pair for Aunt Peggy’s famous pies, and is a luscious, decadent and delicious Virginia passito to end your day of gluttony.
I always bring a wide range of wines to our family Thanksgiving table, because with more than 30 people to please, I have to have options! It’s usually a global sampling, accessible but with some “interesting” options in there to hopefully get people to try something new.
This year, I’m excited to share a Gravner 2005 Anfora Breg that I think will be lovely with our porchetta (with 30+ people, we need more than just turkey) and a killer Pinot Noir that people won’t believe is from South Africa to pair with the bird—Crystallum 2015 Cuvée Cinema Pinot Noir from Walker Bay.
Julia Lea, Digital Creative Director
I’m an expat Aussie who has embraced the Thanksgiving feast as my favorite American holiday. To be honest, I still don’t get the marshmallow-and-sweet-potato thing, but that’s probably just the Melbourne-food-snob talking.
We’re hosting a smallish family Thanksgiving this year, so I get to call the shots on the menu and wines.
I find it hard to start a party without bubbly, so I’m thinking a Hermann J. Wiemer 2013 Cuvée Brut—a super dry sparkling from my adopted home, New York. To go with appetizers, I’m planning to open a Gruber Röschitz 2016 Grüner Veltliner (a bonus for being a Best Buy), along with some Chardonnay from Washington State, like Novelty Hill’s 2015 Stillwater Creek Vineyard.
To keep things moving for main course, maybe I will bring another Victorian to the Thanksgiving table: Moorooduc 2013 Robinson Pinot Noir from the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. It makes the perfect complement to the herb and hazelnut stuffed turkey breast and vegetarian shepherd’s pie I’m making.
Finally, to pair with the pecan and bourbon pie (and if it’s not too cold, s’mores on the fire pit), I’m thinking some smoky Westland Winter 2016 American Single Malt Whiskey. There’s no better way to feel thankful.
I am nostalgic for many Thanksgivings in Tacoma, Washington, around a very long set of tables pushed together to accommodate 30+ people. So for a taste of the Pacific Northwest, I’m going for a bottle of Fossil & Fawn 2016 Pinot Gris from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It’s a deep crimson bottling with a fantastically otherworldly label. More importantly, it’s a wine that looks and drinks like a red (best served with a nice chill on it, though), yet stays light on its feet. There is a nice dollop of tannic oomph to power through your bird, vegan casserole, or whatever ends up on the table.
This Pinot Gris lives in a unique world, orbiting around a strange and wonderful Portland-esque galaxy of weird, cool, tasty wines.
Dylan Garret, Associate Digital Editor
For over a decade now, I’ve hosted an annual Thanksgiving Orphans’ Dinner (or “Friendsgiving,” if you prefer) of lonely Brooklynites unable to travel for the holiday. Our gathering is partially about bucking convention, so each Thanksgiving morning begins with us shucking fresh oysters (shout out to Fish Tales on Court Street) while drinking reverse martinis. “Reverse” means a double-wet martini—or twice as much vermouth as gin—perfect for morning drinking. For mine, I enjoy two ounces of Lillet Blanc paired with an ounce of The Botanist gin, whose spice and anise profile is able to shine through the double-dose of fortified wine. Throw in a twist of lemon and you’ve got pre-noon perfection.
However, the ever-changing cast of characters at our table means I need to keep track of countless dietary restrictions. From vegetarian to pescatarian, gluten intolerances (so much for that untouched case of beer I picked up)—and in one instance, a guest who brought his own special gravy because he “doesn’t eat mammals”—the last thing I need to worry about is restrictions on what we’re drinking.
So for simplicity and cost-effectiveness, this year I’m popping a 3L box of Schplink Grüner Veltliner from Burgenland into the fridge and letting people take care of themselves while I focus on not burning my smoked-gouda mac and cheese. Grüner is food-friendly on the whole, and the bright acidity and citrus make a nice counterpoint to excessively rich food. Schplink’s eye-catching, ’80s-inspired packaging will also hopefully provide welcome misdirection from the bottle of Blanton’s I’ll have stashed for myself next to the stove.
Nobody touches my Blanton’s.
Angela Kahn, Tasting Coordinator
My favorite Thanksgiving dish at my family’s table is easily the stuffing. I’m looking forward to trying my wine pick with it this Thursday, the Casa Santos Lima 2013 Confidencial Reserva. It’s the Portuguese cornucopia of field blends: more than 40 grape varieties should complement our Italian sausage-based stuffing with walnuts. And to boot, [European Editor] Roger [Voss] says “Drink from 2017.” Let’s see if he’s right!
Bonus: The last four vintages of this wine scored 91 points or above.
I’m hosting, and I know my family’s expecting me to reach deep into my cellar for something cool and interesting, so I’m adopting a multi-bottle approach.
There will be Champagne. I’ve got a bottle of Leclerc Briant NV Reserve Brut that was probably a housewarming gift. Bubbles are always a good pairing for rich food—and my boyfriend’s mom.
There will also be Oregon Gamay, my personal poultry-pairing obsession. A bottle of Brick House 2016 Gamay Noir will be a strong assist to the cranberry sauce in terms of cutting through lots of rich, starchy side dishes.
I’m on somewhat of a quest to track down a bottle of Equipo Navazos 2012 Ovni, a dry white wine made from mostly Pedro Ximenez grapes that I had at an event a couple of months ago. It’s got an apple-y Sherry taste that’s bright and super food-friendly, and if I can find it, it will be my impressive, geeky wine. Short of that, I’ll get a bottle of Dr. Heidemann-Bergweiler 2015 Blitz Riesling. It’s fruity, tangy, a bit savory, plus low-cost (on sale at my local shop!) and low-alcohol. Need I say more?