Top Five Wines for a Classic Thanksgiving Dinner

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If you’re like us, your Thanksgiving plans have drastically changed due to COVID. In any normal year, even with us in Colorado, we would be getting ready to head back to D.C. for Thanksgiving with my family. Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards this year, and even our back-up plan – a long weekend in the mountains with the in-laws – was canceled as states begin to shut down again. 

Nevertheless, we’re looking on the bright side as I hope you are – a nice, cozy Thanksgiving with just us, lots of holiday cheer (yes, we are getting our tree the next day), and good, good wine. 

We’ll be having  a classic Thanksgiving with turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, and cranberry sauce. Since it’s just us, this the first year I’ll actually be making a turkey (insert gasps). We pre-ordered our sides from Whole Foods to save some time and stress, including two pies – cherry and chocolate pecan. 

If you’re planning something similar, check out the top five wines for a classic Thanksgiving Day: 

Cava 

Cristalino Brut, Total Wine, $8.29

Champagne is a great way to kickoff the holiday, but switch things up this year and try a Spanish Cava. Cava is made very similarly to Champagne but a good, cheaper alternative. You’ll get lots of citrus and apple notes, and it will be the perfect for an appetizer or cheese plate. Look for a Brut style (most will be Brut) where the wine will be more dry but not overly so. 

Chablis

Louis Moreau Chablis, $24

The star of our show. I brought a Chablis to a Friendsgiving last year, and it was an overwhelming hit! Why Chablis? Chablis are typically not aged in oak barrels, so you won’t have that buttery, honeyed taste that will rival the turkey. Instead, you’ll get a nice, crisp Chardonnay with some acidity that will pair perfectly with a well-cooked, juicy turkey. 

Riesling

Gerd Anselmann Pfalz Riesling, $19

Hate Chardonnay? Try a German dry Reisling. This is another acidic wine that will have some nice orchard fruits (think apricot, apple, pear) on the nose and again, will feel very crisp against a (hopefully) juicy turkey. We’ll be using apples when cooking our turkey, so a Riesling will also help to bring those flavors out. 

Pinot Noir

Fleur Pinot Noir, $19 (California)

Averaen Pinot Noir, $19 (Oregon)

My favorite wine overall and a great red to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. Unlike a white, which I would want to be a bit acidic, I’d recommend a Pinot Noir from the United States – either California or Oregon. They will be a bit smoother without the bite of an Old World Pinot and have more red fruit overtones instead of earth notes. Since this is my favorite, we picked up one from California and then Willamette Valley. You can never have too many Pinots, right?

Beaujolais Nouveau (Gamay)

Pardon and Fils Beaujolais Nouveau, $12

Okay, it might have just been Beaujolais Nouveau Day, which is leading me to pick this as my final recommendation… BUT you just can’t go wrong with this wine. It’s a huge crowd pleaser. They’re light, easy drinking red wines that will also have notes of red fruit (like the Pinot) and pair well with poultry. Impress your spouse or small group of relatives with this French Gamay and remember, it’s pronounced BOW (like a bow in your hair) ZHUH LAY. 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

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