Thanksgiving is a time for family we haven’t seen for too long, lounging on the couch for hours at a stretch, and sitting down to a table of beloved traditional foods that, nonetheless, are notoriously difficult to pair with wine.
Solving this annual November drinking conundrum is a deeply personal issue, and everyone seems to have their own strategy for how they imbibe on the big day. There are the Pinot Noir devotees, the believers in Beaujolais, the religiously Riesling-focused. And while all of those options—and so many more—work well, there’s really no need to limit yourself to one grape variety or style.
With that in mind, then, I offer 10 wines to get you through Thanksgiving, produced in a variety of styles, that will work well alongside the various dishes of the classic holiday feast. They’re all well-crafted examples of their grape variety or style, tied to their place of origin, and produced in a range of states from across the USA. Which only seems appropriate given the nature of the holiday.Jonathon Nimerfroh
Spirit of the holiday: Cushing, Tripp, and Joe Donelan have raised more than $32,000 for charity in light of the recent wine-country fires, and will donate 30% of their October sales to fire relief efforts. Their eponymous 2014 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah, crafted by winemaker Joe Nielsen, is a powerful, generous bottling perfect for the Thanksgiving feast (Credit: Jonathon Nimerfroh).
J Vineyards Cuvée 20 NV Russian River Valley (SRP $38)
Bright and concentrated, with lots of mineral cutting through the lemon and subtle floral notes. Perfect to start Thanksgiving day with.
Presqu’ile Vineyard Sparkling Rosé NV (disgorged December 2016) Santa Maria Valley (SRP $65)
Coppery salmon in color, with aromas of grilled multigrain bread and a hint of strawberry conserve. Flavors of blood orange and fresh-baked pie crust, as well as strawberry and cranberry, round out this structured sparkler.
Brooks Sweet P Riesling 2016 Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon (SRP $28)
Subtle nose, with deep minerality to the hard apricot and yellow plum notes, turning to a palate nicely concentrated and medium-sweet, with flavors of yellow plum, white peach, flowers, and honey.
Stinson Vineyards Rosé of Mourvèdre 2016, Virginia(SRP $21)
This spicy pink gem won me over with excellent acidity lifting flavors of crunchy apple, watermelon, and cranberry.
Cobb Emmaline Ann Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 Sonoma Coast (SRP $75)
Transporting aromas of raspberry and rose petal rise from the glass with stunning clarity and grace. They precede a silk-textured palate in which cherry skin and flowers are juxtaposed against more earthy flavors of mushroom and sasparilla. This will age for more than a decade, but there’s no way I’d be able to wait that long.
The Vineyard at Grandview Cabernet Franc 2014 Mount Joy, Pennsylvania (SRP $28)
A distinctly savory note lends this spicy Cabernet Franc a sense of posture and structure. The fruit tends in the direction of blackberry and tart black cherry, and the finish is kissed with a hint of saltiness.
Addendum Skellenger Lane Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Rutherford, Napa Valley (SRP $95)
The recently released project from the team behind Fess Parker, this inaugural beauty beguiles with warm fig, cassis, and graphite aromas leading to flavors of black cherry, cassis, hoisin sauce, dark chocolate, and something almost meaty. The whole range of excellent wines from Addendum, in fact, will be one to watch in the coming years.
Ravenswood Big River Zinfandel 2014 Alexander Valley (SRP $39)
Ravenswood is best known for its affordably priced Zinfandel, but their single vineyard bottlings are some of the best on the market. This one, from the Alexander Valley’s Big River Vineyard, is ripe, spicy, and plummy, with plenty of power (15.2% alc.) to the brambly berry fruit, yet it’s all held in check with a structure as balanced and detailed as it is generous.
Donelan Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 2014 Knights Valley (SRP $105)
The ripeness of the fruit here lends this lush red a generosity that seems perfect for the spirit of the holiday. Plum cake, spice, and cherry liqueur are balanced by olive tapenade notes, the entirety a gorgeous wine that’s just as rewarding on its own as it is with food. (And talk about the spirit of the holiday: The Donelan family, whose winery is located in the fire zone, and many of whose neighbors suffered horrible damage and loss, has raised over $32,000 for the Sonoma County Resilience Fund and the United Way of Wine Country, and they are donating 30% of all of their October sales to fire relief efforts.)
Veritas Petit Manseng “Dessert Wine” 2014 Monticello, Virginia (SRP $27)
An exceptional combination of honey, lemon blossom, kaffir lime leaf, and pineapple notes inject this dessert wine with an unexpected sense of savoriness against its sweeter, more tropical elements. Yet another convincing argument for why we all should be drinking more wine from Virginia…and not just on Thanksgiving.
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