November 15, 2010

More Red Wine for Thanksgiving

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[Photo: Robyn Lee]

I'd be happy to have a single-varietal Thanksgiving, pouring just Pinot or Zinfandel with our turkey. But I couldn't resist a few more red wine recommendations for those of you looking for something a little different. Here are three bottles worth considering if you haven't already stocked up.

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The Best Wine For Thanksgiving: Zinfandel

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Zinfandel on the vine. [Photograph: ©iStockphoto.com/GomezDavid]

I once believed that people drank Zinfandel at Thanksgiving just for its theoretical charm; though it didn't originate here, it's often touted as the 'All-American' grape because it's such a popular varietal to grow in California. Zin's berrylicious flavor is approachable and its rich, glycerin-like texture is attractive to New World-winelovers who like big, luscious wines.

But count me among the converted. Having only tasted hugely alcoholic, jammy Zinfandel wines, I was missing out on some of the best of them, which are earthy and sophisticated, with deep baked-blueberry notes but also enough tannin and acid to come into balance. Not all California Zins are monster wines, and many of them are worthy of your attention.

When I tasted these Zinfandels with turkey and stuffing, I stopped in my tracks. It's a killer combination.

Which bottles to try?

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The Best Wine For Thanksgiving: Chardonnay

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Chardonnay on the vine. [Photograph: naotakem on Flickr]

Chardonnay sometimes gets a bad rap, but it's a lovely choice for the Thanksgiving table—as long as you choose the right one. A mouthful of oak is not the perfect accompaniment to dark meat or light meat. But the bottles I have for you today are light on their feet, and will be pleasing both to Chard-lovers and those who swear they drink ABC (Anything But Chardonnay.)

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The Best Wine For Thanksgiving: Pinot Noir

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[Photograph: *clairity* on Flickr]

Pinot Noir is an excellent choice for Thanksgiving. Why? These wines are food-friendly, with soft tannins and a fresh burst of tart acidity that helps to cut through rich dishes. They have herbal notes that complement all the sage, thyme, and fennel in a Thanksgiving feast, and an earthiness that brings out the best in mushroom gravy, stuffing, and turkey itself. At its best, pinot is elegant, sultry and savory, with a pop of fresh tart berries and base notes that remind me of the wet forest floor.

Unfortunately, pinot is an expensive and notoriously tricky grape, so you're not going to find a ton of delicious bottles in the budget range. (Cheap pinot can be overly sweet, overly oaked, and totally disappointing.) But if you are looking for a special bottle to share at Thanksgiving, the following wines are great choices.

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The Best Wine For Thanksgiving: Gewürztraminer

Do you worry about choosing the right wine to serve at Thanksgiving? Never fear, Serious Eats is here with wine picks to please every palate.

20101105gewurzt.jpgGewürztraminer (pronounced Geh-VERTZ-trah-mee-nur) is the wine that most reminds me of Thanksgiving. It's aromatic and slightly spicy, sometimes off-dry with hints of lychees and nutmeg. It's right at home with sage-rubbed turkey, and it's stellar paired with stuffing.

My favorite Gewürz right now also happens to be a great value. The Helfrich 2008 Gewurztraminer from the Alsace region of France is under $15 for a tall skinny bottle (it'll fit well in your fridge next to all those Thanksgiving groceries.) It's only 12.5% ABV, but has a rich, decadent mouthfeel while retaining a lively acidity. This golden wine reminds me of pear compote (with just a whiff of mango) and its delicate spicing feels perfectly fall-like. Buy a few bottles and keep one to serve with your Christmas goose. (Find this wine)

Gewürztraminer is also a specialty of the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy. Elena Walch's Alto Adige DOC Gewürztraminer is another good choice for your Thanksgiving table. It's around $20, and offers a viscous, silky mouthfeel and richness that will beautifully complement herb-scented gravy, and would be stellar with a starter of butternut squash soup, oyster stew, or curried mussels. This is such a pretty wine, with hints of honey, clove, and quince. (Find this wine)

More Thanksgiving Wine Tips

Sparkling Wine for Thanksgiving
How to Choose Wine For Thanksgiving