Wines for the Bird


Deciding which wine to pair with Thanksgiving might not be as easy as you think. The wine has to go well not only with the turkey, but will all the fixings, too. What wines will go well with roasted turkey, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, and green beans? Sunset Magazine’s Sara Schneider of Sunset Magazine luckily decided to help us out.

In an informal survey, Schneider determined that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were the usual picks for Thanksgiving dinner. She thinks Pinot Noir is an inspired choice: “A high-acid, low-tannin Pinot, with bright cherry and cranberry flavors over rich spices, can do right by almost all the exuberant side dishes a turkey requires.”

As for the Chardonnay pick, Schneider isn’t convinced. While understanding the people should drink what they like, she thinks that all the regular Thanksgiving side dishes “will kill an oaky Chard, even if it could stand tall with bare turkey. Other experts agree with her and reiterate that high-acid is the keyword for a Thanksgiving Day wine. Although, make sure it’s a wine without a high alcohol content, otherwise the combination of alcohol and tryptophan from the turkey will make you awfully sleepy (which may be a good thing, depending on how your family gets along).

In honor of the roots of the Thanksgiving tradition, Schneider picked wines from American winemakers for her list of Sunset’s picks:

Mirabelle Brut by Schramsberg, nonvintage (California; $19). Schramsberg was one of the first sparkling-wine makers in California, and is still one of the best. Mirabelle, the “little sister” of its more expensive bottles, is terrific for the price.

Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. Loosen “Eroica” Riesling 2004 (Columbia Valley, WA; $22). A partnership between one of Washington’s largest wineries and one of Germany’s most famous vintners results in the best Riesling in the state.

Gundlach Bundschu Rhinefarm Vineyard Gewrztraminer 2003 (Sonoma Valley; $22). Long and lush, with beautiful hints of rose petals, spices, gingerbread, and litchis.

Runquist Massoni Ranch Zinfandel 2002 (Amador County, CA; $22). Liquid jam, with beautifully ripe blackberry and black cherry flavors and a silky texture.

Morgan Grenache/Syrah 2003 (Monterey, CA; $14). Full of wild violets, black licorice, cherry jam, dark chocolate, and espresso. If your turkey is boldly seasoned, this is the red to match.

[Photo from Sunset]

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Reader Comments

That’s a lot info on wine!!! Well this very useful as well. Wine is an integral part of our feast. And good wine ensures more enjoyment. Well you can also find a lot of related and useful information over at this Thanksgiving Blog. Check it out, it’s very useful.

Thanks, Sean. I hope it helps when you pick a wine for Thanksgiving!