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The Perfect Thanksgiving Wines for Every Thanksgiving Menu

Ian White | November 24, 2014 | Story Wine and Spirits

Your Thanksgiving table will likely have turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, cranberries, pie, and a few traditions all your own. But which wines should you pair with these seasonal delights? We reached out to the experts to make sure that you’re well prepared no matter what feast awaits you.

If you’re eating: Heritage turkey
Pair it with something other than Pinot like: Vietti Dolcetto d’Alba
“Pinot Noir would be the safe option, but we’re not playing it safe. It’s time to try something new. Dolchetto literally translates as 'the little pretty one', and makes a great substitute for all you pinotphiles out there. Vietti Dolchetto d’Alba will go wonderfully with turkey thanks to its light and elegant body with smooth well-integrated tannins. The red fruit backed up with a hint of blueberry will make the turkey shine.” —John Taylor, Bar and restaurant manager, Americano in the Hotel Vitale
Or a cider like: Devoto Save the Gravenstein Cider
"What grows together, goes together. Sonoma-grown Gravenstein apple hard cider and heritage turkey are a natural pairing. The bright acidity, nuttiness, and tannic structure of the Gravenstein cider pairs beautifully with the full-flavored earthiness of heritage turkey, especially when encrusted in Mediterranean herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, and thyme. This farm-to-table pairing will steal the show." —Jolie Devoto-Wade, Cider maker, Devoto Orchards Cider

If you’re eating: Roasted dark-meat turkey
Pair it with a fruit-full white like: Les Chenes 2013 Estate Roussanne
"This complex Rhone white wine, with its earthiness and weighty fullness has tastes of apricot and green apple. This big-boy white wine will enhance and complement all those holiday flavors of pumpkin, squash, cloves, and cinnamon”. —Candice Dixon, co-proprietor, Les Chenes Estate Vineyards
Or a soft red like: 2011 Matanzas Creek Merlot
“One of my favorite wines to drink during the winter holidays is Merlot! Especially at Thanksgiving, the rich and plush fruit flavors of black cherry and plum merlot provides, along with the perfume and soft satiny texture, make it a delicious pairing for roasted Turkey and game birds. Matanzas Creek's merlot has all the soft beautiful flavors and finesse I love, as well as an amazing affinity for the savory herbal flavors found in the turkey dressing or stuffing.” —Michael Jordan, Master sommelier

If you’re eating: Smoked turkey
Pair it with a bold red like: V. Sattui 2012 Syrah
“The smoked bacon and gamey character of the Syrah matches the juicy, smoked aromas of the bird. The concentrated fruit of the Syrah on the palate is a perfect complement to the dark and white cuts of the turkey. A splash of gravy will soften the tannins, while the lingering black currant and boysenberry fruit flavors of the wine adds a fruity finish.” —Brooks Painter, Director of winemaking, V. Sattui Winery

If you’re eating: Fresh crab
Pair it with a bright Chardonnay like: Starmont Stanly Ranch Chardonnay
“Being in the Bay Area, I correlate Thanksgiving with the start of crab season. I love to start Thanksgiving Day off with an appetizer of fresh crab from the bay with a crisp cool climate Chardonnay. The wine has a richness that complements succulent crab meat beautifully and the bright acidity cuts through the crab and finishes clean and long. —Jeff Crawford, Winemaker, Starmont Winery and Vineyards

If you're eating: Mushroom stuffing
Pair it with a silky Pinot Noir like: 2012 Cuvaison Estate Pinot Noir
"The fresh berry, silky tannins and bright acidity in this wine enhance the earthy elements of this holiday comfort dish. We add morels to bring a hearty, rustic flavor to traditional Thanksgiving stuffing. Be sure to include a bit of fresh thyme—the herbal, woodsy flavor amplifies the meaty, musky taste of mushrooms." —Steve Rogstad, Winemaker, Cuvaison Estate Winery

If you’re eating: A beet-and-goat cheese salad
Pair it with a fruit-forward wine like: 2013 J. Lohr Estates Wildflower Valdiguié
While this wine's vibrant pomegranate and raspberry flavors complement the goat cheese perfectly, it’s light peppery finish and hint of earth works beautifully with the roasted beets. This bright and aromatic wine, which is reminiscent of the Crus of Beaujolais, is also a perfect red for those who usually prefer white. —The Lohr family

If you’re eating: Brussels sprouts
Pair it with a sherry like: NV Alexandro Oloroso
“Spanish sherry isn’t the first wine that comes to mind for most people, especially here in Wine Country, but a glass of Oloroso pairs particularly well with the flavors in this family favorite.” —Chef Mark Stark, Bravas Bar de Tapas

If your eating: Butternut squash
Pair it with a spicy red like: Dutton-Goldfield Devil’s Gulch Pinot Noir
"The earthiness of the squash complement the spicy wild fruit intensity of the wine. Pinot is a classic Thanksgiving wine." —Larry Willis, owner, The Gables Wine Country Inn
Or a delicate Chardonnay like: La Crema’s Appellation Series Anderson Valley
“The temperate 2012 season produced Anderson Valley Chardonnay with mature, finely-textured tannins and a rich mouth feel. Tasting the wines we were struck by the delicacy of the citrus and floral notes. This softer impression added to the silky texture of the wine, leaving subtle hints of sweet spice without overwhelming the lovely fruit character. On the nose, look for fresh white clover, honeycomb, citrus zest, and nutmeg."
 —Elizabeth Grant-Douglas, Winemaker

If you're eating: Pecan or pumpkin pie
Pair it with a dessert wine like: 2012 West Late Harvest Viognier
“The supple aromas of mango, apricot, and peach, as well as a hint of citrus, make this dessert wine perfect for your holiday parties. At six percent sugar, it is not overly sweet and the delicious aromas are balanced with subtle acidity” — Katarina Bonde, Owner and winemaker, West Wines

If you’re eating: Apple pie
Pair it with: V. Sattui 2011 Regina
“V. Sattui’s Regina is a smooth, velvety wine, made in the style of a classic Sauterne. Regina’s notes of apricot and toasted nuts complement the baked fruit and crust in the pie.” —John Winkelhaus, Vice president, V. Sattui Winery

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