It's that time of the year... all the wine writers' Thanksgiving recommendations! There are a lot of great ones out there, sure, and by all means heed whichever suggestions you want, but let me REALLY break it down for you:
Thanksgiving food is boring. Seriously, without that pop of cranberry, and maybe some green(ish) beans, the entire meal is a neutral palette. Nothing has spice or personality. So your wine has to jhuzzh up the entire feast… without overwhelming it!
This means pretty much any wine that’s not too heavy or overly fruity with gobs of acidity will do the trick — which gives you a LOT of options!!
Here are some of the Minx’s personal faves:
Kind of a no-brainer. A) it’s a holiday, so let's celebrate! Plus b) the zippy acid and lively bubbles will complement every single kind of delish beige mush on your plate.
A blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, this fizz will have a scootch more round red fruit and depth, while still maintaining its freshness. Plus, it’s from New Mexico, so… ‘Murica! ~$17
SPLURGE: 2004 Dom Ruinart Rosé Champagne, France
This was the “meatiest,” most savory Champy I’ve ever had. (Might be due to an unusually high percentage of still red wine added in? Either way…) Utterly captivating. Roasted orange peels, iodine, fresh herb garden, sweet summer strawberries, toasty brioche, candied ginger, dried rose petals… total splurge, but worth every penny. ~$325
But get a good one. Chard is a kind of neutral grape, but it can sing if coaxed into its own by a deft winemaker. A more mineral-driven, lean style (say Chablis) will vibrate through the meal like a plucked high piano string, while one with more oak influence will bring out the spice of the sweet potato and pies.
SAVE: 2017 Charles Smith Eve Chardonnay, WA
I tell you over and over to snap up Smith’s value offerings because they always deliver! This Washington State Chard ticks all the boxes — fruit, acid, bright but with depth — at a price that can’t be beat. ~$10
SPLURGE: 2015 Kistler Les Noisetiers Chardonnay, CA
Big and round with buckets of rich fruit; peach, apricot, pear, a meadow full of white flowers, some baked apple pie… perhaps a hint of grilled pineapple and some dried herbs too — this Kistler Chard with a few years of age will be a meal unto itself. ~$65
I also love a Grüner Veltliner or Furmint for Thanksgiving; they can have savory notes like celery and white pepper or ginger and spice, and both have strong acidic backbones.
SAVE: 2017 Evolúció Tokaji Furmint, Hungary ~$12
SPLURGE: 2017 FX Pichler M Smaragd Gruner Veltliner, Austria ~$80
How many times do I have to say it? Rosé is a red wine in a white wine’s body — the best of both worlds! You could literally have ANY quality rosé on Turkey Day and you’ll be happy. I might pop these:
SAVE: 2018 Anthony Road Rosé of Cabernet Franc, NY
This Fingerlakes producer coaxes the perfect balance of red cherry fruit and herbs out of Cab Franc; supremely quaffable all year round. It's so slurp-worthy, I'm drooling just writing this. ~$16
100% Merlot, from a small single vineyard in Calistoga, this juicy, vibrant rosé is packed with fruit, yet has plenty of structure to hold it all together. The Herslys are a husband-wife team producing some seriously good juice; this, their first rosé, is named after their sushi-loving dog Mae, who is featured on the label. (She was a rescue, so portions of the sales of this wine go to support animal rescues and shelters!) ~$28
Here’s where the fun happens! Yes, Pinot Noir is the classic high-acid, zesty, cherry-berry and herby-earthy, low-tannin red, and you can find great examples from the Willamette Valley in Oregon or from New Zealand, not to mention the rhapsodic icons of Burgundy. But why not try something a little different this year?
SAVE: 2017 Hillinger Zweigelt, Austria
An Austrian specialty, Zweigelt is a crossing of St-Laurent and Blaufrankish (< also good for Turkey Day!) Like a lighter Pinot Noir, expect spicy cherry notes, maybe a bit of cinnamon. Lip-smaking! ~$16
Red wines from Sicily’s Mt. Etna region are based on Nerello Mascalese, which thrives in the volcanic soil there. This has crunchy red fruit and great woodsy earth and herbs, buoyed by rose florals. While fresh and invigorating now, it also has serious staying power (grab a few bottles, and see how it evolves next year!) ~$22
SAVE: 2016 Avancia Mencia Cuvee de O, Spain
Mencia is one of those grapes you wonder why everyone doesn’t know about it already. This one is like a bowl of blackberries dusted with mocha powder and black pepper that you eat in a freshly-tilled field. More on the oomphy side, but still kept fresh by its acidity. ~$15
No matter what you decide, I hope you spend a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family. Let me know what you end up popping, and how you enjoyed jhuzzhing up the big meal!