This year's Thanksgiving Gathering from The Kitchn focused on fresh, seasonal recipes. Faith asked me to pair a few wines for this year's menu, centered around grilled Thanksgiving fare. Traditional savory notes still dominated the al fresco table, and these budget-friendly wines from Trader Joe's seamlessly match the cuisine.
If you want a few budget bottles to drink with your Thanksgiving dinner, these are all terrific picks.
Obviously, whites and rosés are perfect matches for turkey or ham, which are commonly served on Thanksgiving. So many times, however, I am asked which red wines pair best with this holiday menu. These particular selections are a little softer and savory in style, complementing the lighter meats and autumn cuisine.
- Domaine Ste. Michelle, "Michelle", Brut, Columbia Valley, WA, NV, $13 - Yes, this sparkling wine is superb on its own, but pair it with cheese, a relish tray, or a slightly salty appetizer, and it becomes something entirely different. Dry, sparkling wine is beloved for its versatility. Notes of Honeycrisp apple, lemon and toasty brioche lay the framework for this crisp, acidic, and light domestic bubbly.
- La Granja, Tempranillo-Garnacha, Cariñena DO, Spain, 2012, $5 - Serious wine for five bucks? Yes. Out of all the red wines listed here, this blend is the ripest, juiciest, and most fruit-forward. This ruby-hued, light-bodied wine won't overpower anything on your Thanksgiving menu, but it will deliver bright notes of dusty red fruits, ripe raspberry, cocoa, and vanilla. Try their straight Tempranillo, too. This wine is great with light appetizers, and it is a spot-on selection for those seeking a light, fruity, low-tannin red.
The Main Course
- MacMurray Ranch, Pinot Noir, Central Coast, CA, 2012, $16 - Pinot Noir paired with turkey is absolute perfection. It's a classic. The textures complement each other, the flavors marry cohesively, and the wine's body and acidity encourage repeat bites. This ripe vintage, laced with silky tannins, delivers a rich mouth-feel with notes of pomegranates, cola, sour cherries, and green tea. The slightly savory and smoky notes pair exceptionally well with the Spatchcocked Grilled Turkey.
- Alamos, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 2013, $10 - Thanksgiving cuisine summons cooking techniques, such as roasting, braising, or grilling. These heavier preparations require a wine that can stand up to the more intense flavors that follow. Malbec is a perfect fit. Alamos is made by one of Argentina's iconic producers, Catena, so this wine is a lesson in value. Medium in body with a lush finish, this Malbec boasts notes of blackberry jam, cocoa, and baking spices. I love this particular red with grilled vegetables, and the herbal influence in the Roasted Sweet Potato Slices with Cilantro Pesto really enhances the wine.
- Famille Perrin, Côtes du Rhône, France, 2011, $13 - I find so many values within the region of Côtes du Rhône in France. The wines are usually a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, and can vary from fresh and fruity to herbaceous and earthy. I never get bored here. This bold wine is a crazy value. With notes of cracked pepper, dried herbs, baking spices, and raspberry jam, this savory blend complements any smoked, braised, or grilled meats or vegetables.
→ What About White Wine? Almost all white wines and rosés go well with Thanksgiving cuisine. Everything from crisp and racy Sauvignon Blanc to sweet Riesling, or even a toasty Chardonnay. I really enjoy pairing a buttery stuffing or grilled turkey with a lightly oaked Chardonnay, and one of our most memorable Thanksgiving dinners was paired entirely with rosés.
A Sweet Finish
- G. Chevalier, Sauternes, 2010, $13 - This bottling is a second label for a renowned dessert wine house in Bordeaux. Sauternes, a sweet, French dessert wine made of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, pairs beautifully with baked seasonal fruits and pies. Golden straw in color and sweet on the palate, this bright dessert wine is crisp and tastes of apricot, lemon curd, and honeyed grapefruit. Sauternes is a go-to when pairing wine with fruit, cheese, and tarts. You will soon understand why Sauternes is an apple tart's soulmate.
- Warre's, "Warrior", Porto, Portugal, NV, $22 - Port is a fortified wine and is classically paired with chocolate, nuts, and cheeses. Warre's "Warrior" was one of my first encounters with port, and I still enjoy revisiting it. This ruby style port is rich on the palate and is exceptional alongside Pumpkin Slab Pie or Maple Pecan Pie Bars. You'll get notes of orange peel, clove, molasses, and stewed plums, with a rich, sweet finish.
→ Want to Bring or Serve Something Unique This Thanksgiving? Shop for a dessert wine. Wine with the dessert course is an oft-overlooked component of the dining experience. Offering coffee is a given, but serving a great dessert wine is a moving experience. A good rule on matching dessert wine with treats is to pair the color of the wine with the intensity of the dessert. For example, pair grilled peaches with a light Moscato, or chocolate soufflé with dark, rich Port or Sherry. An added bonus of dessert wine? Stored in the refrigerator, it usually retains its initial freshness up to 3 weeks.
(Image credits: Leela Cyd)