When it comes to selecting the wines, no other holiday is quite like Thanksgiving, a perfect wine holiday where many varietals can be offered for all tastes. Wine can be paired with classic traditional dishes and served with appetizers, the meal, and even desserts.
The grape harvest normally occurs at the end of summer and into the fall. That is when many of us see the bright, showy stacks of George Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, a young light fruity red wine. It’s what the French call the “vin de primeur” made in November, just in time for the feasting holidays.
You have options, lots of them and fine choices from crisp whites to deeper garnet ruby reds.
Here are the 2018 Monsters and Critics picks for the best new wines to check out, and the good news is like most Beaujolais Nouveau, they are quite reasonable in cost.
Thanksgiving wines to add to the table this year include:
Domaine Zinck Pinot Gris 2016, Alsace
France: Pinot Gris grapes.
Highlights: Domaine Zinck is known for their luscious and full whites, with a crisp fruit pop with spicy notes. Here’s one for the roasted turkey main course. Also great with rich fish dishes, all seafood, white meats or even cutting the unctuous foie gras if you serve that gourmet treat. A perfect balance of acidity with fruits like apricot, yellow plum, hints of ginger and stone fruits. SRP is $21.
Schlumberger Pinot Gris Les Princes Abbés 2014, Alsace
France: Pinot Gris grapes.
Highlights: A lightly fruity and crisp pour, fruit-forward with a bit of candied fruit which is perfect for all main Thanksgiving dishes and sides. A bit of pear, a bit of citrus, hints of caraway and pepper makes this memorable fruit and acid balance lovely with a roasted and brined turkey. The right amount of acidity tempers rich sides like a stuffing and mashed potatoes with gravy. SRP is $18.
Albert Mann Pinot Noir Grand “H” 2014, Alsace
France: 100% Pinot Noir grapes.
Highlights: The gift wine to bring if you aim to impress. Albert Mann Pinot Noir Grand “H” 2014 was made for the meat, serve with an herb-rubbed roast beef served with horseradish sauce for the holidays. A perfect storm of berries, currants and spice that demands savory meats similar to most full-bodied reds. A finish of vanilla and nutmeg makes this lovely wine, a great giftand must-have for a holiday meal. Our most expensive wine listed at $54 SRP.
Côtes du Rhône reds:
For medium-bodied reds that won’t break the bank, go for these. Côtes du Rhône wines are satisfying medium-bodied reds from France with a more juicy fruit initial pop and a brown sugar and spice underscore. These wines pair beautifully with turkey, gravy, and roasted winter vegetables:
Cotes Du Rhone La Solitude Famille Lancon – 2016
France: Grenache 50%, Syrah 40%, Mourvedre 10%
Highlights: Famille Lançon Domaine de la Solitude Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2016 is a Châteauneuf-du-Pape red. At the SRP price, it is a real steal as the vineyard has a 600-year history of winemaking with the same family, handed down.
Perfect to serve with any grilled meats, beef stew, a charcuterie board with cheeses and meats. It runs about $15-16. It’s classy and a bit fancy pants without the “going broke buying it” part. Serve a fantastic and simple to make charcuterie platter for arriving guests ahead of the big turkey reveal.
Côtes du Rhône Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2016 Famille Perrin
France: Grenache 30%, Mourvedre 30%, Syrah 20%, Cinsault 20%
Highlights: Beaucastel has turned out a sexy little red that has a ripe, round pop of fruit and thanks to that higher Mourvedre percentage, more peppery spice and jammy snap. it’s a humdinger for around $27 SRP. You might find a good sale at Total Wines, Kappy’s, Spec’s or BevMo.
Serve a fabulous easy appetizer with this wine by making a baked Havarti en croute– use Pepperidge Farms frozen sheet puff pastry, buy a block of about 8-12 ounces of cream Havarti and nestle inside the puff pastry sheet after brushing the underside of the cheese with some good Dijon mustard, then snip fresh dill on top and seal and bake until puffy golden. Slice, serve and go to cheese heaven.
Côtes de Bordeaux:
Château Peybonhomme Les Tours Blanc Bonhomme 2016, Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux
France: A blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
Highlights: This white Bordeaux is a flinty stone fruit and a floral blend made for a high-fat appetizer like a cheese tray or shrimp wrapped in bacon. The wine is defined by the clean citrus middle notes with yummy nectarine and pear influence in the mix. It’s a bit more pricey at $20 SRP but this rivals and bests many wines three to four times the price.
Château Couronneau 2015, Sainte-Foy Côtes de Bordeaux
France: Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec or Petit Verdot grapes.
Highlights: A stone cold bargain for this Chateau Couronneau at about $19 a bottle. This wine enhances any dish with a fruit component like duck with cherry chutney or a pork roast with winter fruit and Port sauce. Dark garnet in color with floral aromatic notes and stone fruit pops on first taste with a nice acidic frame, the velvety tannins make for a refined long fruit finish. Kind of complex yet very accessible, even red wine haters may be surprised they love this one. Serve with easy-to-make prosciutto bites.
Thacher 2016 Working Holiday Cass Vineyard Red (Paso Robles Geneseo District)
California: Grenache 47%, Syrah 30%, Mourvèdre 23%
Highlights: Palish ruby red with apples and cherry first noticed, underscores of fennel and smoke aromatics for the nose of this blend with a spiciness to the finish. Sour red-plum notes, anise, thyme and a bit of California sagebrush.
Serve with any vegetarian options like a vegan mushroom Wellington for those not eating the turkey but who still love the flavors of the holiday. Perfect to serve with a traditional stuffing and cranberry-laden turkey with roasted vegetables. SRP is about $28.
Barton Family Winery Holiday 2017, Paso Robles, CA
100% Clairette Blanche grapes
Highlights: Look at the numbers: 92 points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, May 2018; 91 points – Josh Raynolds of Vinous, September 2018; 88 points & Editor’s Choice – Wine Enthusiast, September 2018.
A bonafide fancy-schmancy pour at $32 a bottle, you cannot go wrong if you gift this as a Thanksgiving day guest. This is white wine heaven, citrus and mineral crisp finishes made to go with a lovely seafood tray of cold crab, shrimp or oysters. Superb. Light. Lovely.
San Marzano Talò Negroamaro 2017
Italy: 100% Negroamaro grapes
Highlights: Talò Negroamaro Salento IGP 2017 is a complex and delicious wine, with notes of currant, vanilla and even some balsamic flavor, best enjoyed with the main meal or rich dishes such as a roast, or slow-cooked pork shoulder or Italian fare like roasted eggplant layered with Mozzarella.
Soft tannins and long luscious finishes make this bottle a real treat. Probably not the one you want to serve with turkey, but if you opt for a ham or pork, give this one a big whirl. SRP is $16.99.
San Marzano Anniversario 62 Riserva Primitivo di Manduria 2014
Italy: 100% Primitivo grapes
Highlights: San Marzano’s robust, full-bodied and aromatic red laced with fruit, jam, spices like nutmeg and even a hint of chocolate. Smooth and elegant tannins tinged with coffee, vanilla, and smoke on the finish. This is not for the turkey people, but if you have a ham, serve a prime rib or roasted pork, this is your pick.
Pretty in Pink Wildcards:
Château de Berne Inspiration Rosé and UP Rosé
Normally a warmer weather pour, dry rosés are one of the fastest growing varietals for Americans thanks to their versatile taste profile and nature. Thanksgiving is a great time to serve dry rosés, we recommend Inspiration Rosé from Château de Berne (SRP around $19.99) and UP Rosé (SRP around $19.99).
Packaged in a gorgeous squared bottle, Inspiration Rosé is great with any roasted poultry or ham. Berries like blackberry and strawberry are the top notes for the Grenache-dominated rosé also that also works beautifully with cranberry sauce and vegan and vegetarian sides and mains.
Urban Provence (UP) Rosé’s balancing act of Grenache and Syrah grapes (Grenache Noir (45%) Cinsault (35%) Syrah (15%) Rolle (5%)) is also a home run (and quite possibly the prettiest wine bottle we’ve ever seen) to serve with the turkey and this lovely dry wine is crisp and perfect to match and complement the richness of decadent corn casseroles, stuffing and mashed potatoes with gravy.