Thanksgiving is just a few days away and you still haven't made the annual wine-buying trek. Don’t despair, you’re not alone, nor will you be when you go to the store. The few days leading up to Thanksgiving, especially that Wednesday, are the busiest days of the year to buy wine. Be prepared to fight the crowds and wait in line longer than if you had gone last week. On a more positive note, you may still have time to order online and get it delivered before Thursday. Happy Turkey Day!
THREE TIPS FOR BUYING WINE FOR THANKSGIVING
1) Throw all the wine-pairing rules out the window and buy what you and your guests like to drink. With so many different dishes being served, Thanksgiving isn’t the time to do individual pairings. Don’t worry about which wine goes with each dish and keep everyone happy with a wide range of wine choices.
2) Unless you’re having a small, intimate gathering with wine afficionados, keep the bottles within your everyday price range. There’s no need for you to stress out when Aunt Carol puts an ice cube in that hard-to-come-by $150 white Burgundy that you were saving for a special occasion. Relax and enjoy that Meursault yourself, with leftovers the next day.
3) Plan on having one bottle of wine per drinker. You never want to run out of wine, especially at family gatherings when you’ll need it the most, like when Uncle Harry starts talking about making America great again. And, just like the food, leftover wine can be enjoyed for days after Thanksgiving. Opened bottles of white wine and rosé will keep well in the fridge, stoppered, for 5 or 6 days. Red wine can last for a couple of days, sometimes it’s even better the next day — when you aren’t listening to your brother-in-law’s snoring along to the drone of the Cowboys-Redskins game.
Below are some wines that will be on my holiday table — if I can get my act together in time!
Set the right tone by greeting your guests with a glass of bubbly.
Champagne - Bruno Paillard makes lively wines of great minerality and finesse, including a nonvintage Brut Première Cuvée ($45) and a vintage Blanc de Blancs ($75). Another solid choice is Champagne Aubry, a small family run estate that makes a distinctive Brut ($42). From one of the large Champagne houses, Laurent-Perrier’s Cuvée Rosé ($75) is a celebration of 50 years of this elegantly nuanced wine.
Consider sparkling wines made in the same way as Champagne (the traditional method), but from other regions.
California - Many people like to drink US wines on this most American of holidays. Try Napa Valley’s Schramsberg Vineyards award-winning Blancs de Blancs ($36), made from 100% chardonnay grapes.
Italy - Franciacorta, a small wine-producing area in Lombardy, produces some of the finest bubbly and Ca’ del Bosco’s Cuvée Prestige NV ($30) is a great choice. Another recommendation comes from the mountainous Trentino area of Northern Italy where excellent sparkling wine is produced, like Ferrari’s superb 100% chardonnay brut sparkler ($23). And for the ever-popular Prosecco, choose one from the prestigious Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, like the complex and nuanced Adami Bosco di Gica ($17).
France - Crémant d’Alsace is a highly-regarded French sparkling wine made in Alsace, just to the east of Champagne. You won’t go wrong with Gustave Lorentz’ Brut ($25), with its enticing aromas of apples and pears and tiny bubbles that will tickle your tongue. Another great choice is the mouth-wateringly delicious crémant from Lucien Albrecht, one of the pioneering producers in the region ($19).
Sauvignon Blanc - Try a lean and mineral-driven Loire Valley wine, like Pascal Jolivet’s Pouilly-Fumé ($23) or Sancerre ($24). Alternatively, chose one with riper fruit flavors from Napa Valley, like the bright and tropical-fruit scented Metaphora Napa Sauvignon Blanc ($47).
Riesling - With its bright, acid-driven fruit, Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling ($13) from Washington State will please the crowd. Its fun, upbeat label should help keep the conversation away from politics too. Another great made-in-the-USA option would be a dry riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes Region: Empire Estate ($19), Ravines ($17), and Anthony Road ($17), to name a few favorites.
Chardonnay - Love it or hate it, chardonnay, especially a California one, is a staple white wine that should be on every Thanksgiving table. Napa Valley’s Freemark Abbey makes a classic, well-balanced, elegant one ($24).
Gamay - 2018 is a great year for Beaujolais and the fun and festive Nouveau just hit the shelves last Thursday. Try a classic one from Georges Duboeuf or go for one of the more complex ‘cru’ Beaujolais that come from the best vineyard sites, like Jean Foillard Fleurie ($50), Marcel Lapierre Morgon ($25), or Domaine des Rosiers Moulin-A-Vent ($20).
Cabernet Franc - A Wine Chef favorite from the Loire Valley, Olga Raffault’s Chinon Les Picasses ($34) is a savory, delicious and classic 100% Cabernet Franc.
Pinot Noir - Always a great choice for the lightness it brings to the table. Try the Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($37) or, from Oregon, a Willamette Valley wine, like the Bergstrom ‘Cumberland Reserve’ ($42).
Cabernet Sauvignon - Keep your big and bold Cabernet-lovers happy and drinking American: Antica Napa Valley ($52), owned by famous Tuscan winery Antinori will do the job, or splurge on the Cliff Lede Napa Valley Cabernet ($72), a knock-out of a red wine, with dark, exuberant fruit.
You can’t go wrong with a rosé from Provence, especially a flavorful one like Château Miraval ($23). As a bonus, it comes in a beautiful bottle and has a good backstory (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie own the estate. The winemaking is overseen by the highly-regarded Famille Perrin).
Côtes du Rhône produces many excellent rosé wines. Try the Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine Tavel ($18), an organic wine with a gorgeous deep-pink color and a juicy, yet dry style.
Finger Lakes, USA - Sheldrake Point produces a dry and delicious 100% Cabernet Franc rosé.
Virginia - Early Mountain Vineyards (nominee for Wine Enthusiast American Winery of The Year) makes a dry and delicate rosé with bright acidity and a long, lingering finish.