Every year around this time, all the major food magazines drop their thickest, most important edition: The Thanksgiving Issue. And without fail, there’ll be a “Which Wines with Turkey?” or some such article inside, often quoting sommeliers—whose pairing suggestions are usually as wide-ranging as the assortment of dishes on the typical Thanksgiving table. Here at SommSelect, we have a relatively straightforward approach to Thanksgiving. Call it our 3-point plan:
1. The meal is effectively a buffet, so treat the wine menu the same way: There isn’t one single wine that is the “perfect” pairing here, so embrace variety.
2. Pick wines with versatility: nothing too “big,” too alcoholic, too tannic, too much. Medium to full-bodied, softly contoured wines are your friends here.
3. It’s a party. Better to have too much wine than too little!
With all this in mind, we’ve assembled a killer Thanksgiving Wine Pack to help you check at least one important task off your shopping list. Check out our All-Star 6 bottle lineup!
Champagne André Clouet, Brut Grand Réserve Grand Cru NV (Champagne, France)
My family kicks off Thanksgiving Day with brunch, usually with lots of Champagne, before we set to work in the kitchen. As many of you already know, André Clouet’s Grand Reserve is one of our favorite “grower” Champagnes for under $50 a bottle. A true farm-to-table example, Clouet crafts this Pinot Noir-driven wine from his 17th-century estate with serious dedication, which includes several years of aging on its fine lees. This extraordinarily versatile expression of dried yellow apple, pineapple, red currant, preserved lemon, hazelnut and freshly baked brioche masterfully walks a high-wire between a full-bodied, rich mouthfeel and crisp acidity, coupled with the trademark minerality we all crave from the best Champagnes. The ideal partner for your Thanksgiving brunch, this bottle may steal show despite all the deliciousness following it!
Paul Anheuser, Riesling QbA “Niederhauser” 2002 (Nahe, Germany)
Marginally off-dry and ready to pair with anything you can imagine: Over the course of this year, SommSelect has featured numerous back-vintage wines from this historic property in Germany’s Nahe. The tension and freshness of this wine, considering its age, is nothing short of amazing. When it comes to versatility at the table, nothing compares to German Riesling, and this wine’s (very) subtle hint of sweetness comes in especially handy at Thanksgiving, when there often a few sweet-leaning side dishes in the mix (yams/sweet potatoes especially). Low in alcohol and blessed with palate-cleansing freshness, this is also an ideal “early course” wine or apéritif with the passed hors d’oeuvres.
Domaine du Grand Pré, Pouilly-Fuissé “Le Crays” 2014 (Burgundy, France)
As versatile as Riesling is, Chardonnay may be tied with it for first place—especially Chardonnay from Burgundy in France, which maintains the crisp, apple-driven fruit flavors of the variety while still providing an extra dose of palate weight to tackle all the trimmings piling up on your plate. Burgundian Chardonnay from the legendary Pouilly-Fuissé AOC delivers an inimitable mixture of lush texture and racy acidity. This single-vineyard bottling from a Mâcon standout is a powerful white Burgundy offering great versatility as well.
Domaine de Bel-Air, Morgon “Les Charmes” 2017 (Beaujolais, France)
If I were forced to choose only one wine to accompany my Thanksgiving feast, it would, without a doubt, be a traditionally crafted bottle of Cru Beaujolais from the historic village of Morgon. Considered by many to be the greatest of the 10 “Crus” of Beaujolais, Morgon once demanded a higher price than even Romanée-Conti on Parisian wine lists a century ago. Along with Pinot Noir, the Gamay grape of Beaujolais may be the most ideally suited to the mix of foods on the table at Thanksgiving. Juicy, bright, and gently tannic, its most mineral and structured expressions come from the granite slopes of Morgon, one of the 10 cru villages known for superior examples of Beaujolais reds.
Evesham Wood, “Mahonia Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2017 (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
No Thanksgiving is complete without a glass of Pinot Noir: The characteristic flavors of the variety are just perfectly suited to the foods on the table. As I’ve said many times over, Oregon currently delivers the best price-to-quality Pinot Noir on the world stage and this wine exemplifies that point tenfold. Rising-star winemaker Erin Nuccio crafts this fragrant, Burgundy-inspired Pinot Noir stunner from a single vineyard near the Van Duzer Corridor, a break in Oregon’s coastal range that funnels Pacific air inland. This cooling influence, combined with the well-drained, mineral-rich soils, is a key factor in producing Pinot Noir grapes that are ripe yet balanced with bracing acidity.
Coutelin-Merville, Saint-Éstephe 2006 (Bordeaux, France)
As Thanksgiving day progresses into Thanksgiving night, you may wish to “jump up a weight class” with your red—and maybe enjoy a slow sip of something aged as well. That’s where this savory and superb Left Bank Bordeaux comes in. We direct-import scores of Bordeaux gems over the course of each year, specifically for occasions such as this. Château Coutelin-Merville is a small, family-run, Cru Bourgeois-classified property—very much the kind of artisanal house we love to showcase here on SommSelect. This wine, now right in its sweet spot after more than a decade of bottle age, is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, offering up mesmerizing “secondary” notes of Cabernet Sauvignon with age: leather, cigar box, graphite. What a way to cap off a great meal!
We hope you enjoy drinking these wines as much as we enjoyed selecting them for you. From all of us here at SommSelect, Happy Thanksgiving!