The 30 Best Wines for Thanksgiving, the Holidays, and Beyond
OK, team, it’s go-time. Thanksgiving is almost here. Then there are the winter holidays. Is your wine rack ready? Even if you’re not celebrating quite like normal, you might want to be ready. And we’re going to wager that you’ve put a dent in your stash over the past few weeks (for no particular reason … ) and it might need a little bit of a restock.
Happily for you all, our panel of experts for Kitchn Essentials, Bar Edition went deep on all the best adult beverages. Here are 30 of our favorite bottles of wine to drink at home, including budget buys, bigger splurges, bubbles, and bottles you can buy while grabbing groceries.
Most Reliable Grocery Store White Wine: Broadbent Vinho Verde
Shipped to the U.S. in refrigerated containers to ensure its green apple and honeydew melon flavors are as fresh and its spritziness is as vibrant as they are in Portugal, Vinho Verde is sort of like the flavored seltzer of the wine world. “Its crisp simplicity is part of what makes it so refreshing — and its low alcohol makes it perfect for an at-home happy hour,” says wine consultant Diane McMartin.
Buy: Broadbent Vinho Verde, $9.99 for 750ml at Drizly
Most Reliable Grocery Store Red Wine: Bodegas Borsao Garnacha
Sunny Spain is the place to go for value in red wine, and this stuff has been reliably great vintage after vintage. It’s the kind of hearty, honest, fruity red — with flavors of black cherry, plums, and a hint of violet, and enough tannin to stand up to a burger — that isn’t earth-shattering, but you’d always be glad to find in your wine rack at the end of a long day.
Buy: Bodegas Borsao Garnacha, $8.99 for 750ml at Wine.com
Fancy Grocery Store Wine: Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon
From 1,000- to 1,600-foot elevation vineyards on Napa’s Mount Veeder, this wine has big tannins; dark, plummy fruit flavors; that brambly, black-currant character reminiscent of berry picking; and loads of dark chocolate and vanilla from toasty oak. This would make an impressive gift — and no one would ever know it was once in the same cart as laundry detergent and granola bars.
Buy: Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon, $55 for 750ml at Mount Veeder Winery
Wine to Order Online: Josh Cellars Red Blend
If you’re adding wine to your order of hand sanitizer and the watercolor kit you’re sure you’ll use one of these weekends, Josh is a solid choice to add to your cart. It’s a soft, easy-drinking red blend that has a ripe fruit character and plush texture that is like the wine equivalent of a cozy throw blanket.
Buy: Josh Cellars Red Blend, $17.95 for 750ml at Drizly
Chardonnay Under $20: Domaine du Coing St. Fiacre Aurore Chardonnay
Chardonnay from the outskirts of France’s Muscadet region has a refreshing lightness, and because it’s not the region’s signature varietal, it tends to be very affordable. “A great backdrop to simple weeknight dishes like sheet pan chicken and root veggies, or pasta with mushrooms and whatever else you dig out of the produce drawer, with flavors of slightly underripe pear and Meyer lemon. This is also a great bath wine, accompanied by Epsom salts and a juicy novel,” Diane suggests.
Buy: Domaine du Coing St. Fiacre Aurore Chardonnay, $14.99 for 750ml at Rio Hill Wine & Beer
Cabernet Sauvignon Under $30: Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon
The name of this winery is almost too on the nose, because this really is a textbook Napa cab. From prime sites in Napa and its more prestigious Oakville subregion, it’s rich and smooth, with flavors of black cherry, currant, and clove, and tannins that are firm but won’t suck your mouth dry. Year after year, it’s an amazing value that makes a lot of other Napa Valley wineries look like they’re overcharging.
Buy: Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon, $29.99 for 750ml at Total Wine
Pinot Grigio Under $20: Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio Dolomiti
The best pinot grigio comes from Trentino Alto-Adige, a beautiful area of Northern Italy. Its proximity to the Alps gives the region strong Sound of Music vibes, and the wines are as fresh and pure as the mountain air. Pinot grigio has an undeserved reputation for being boring, but good PG is anything but. Take our budget pick, for example: Tiefenbrunner’s PG is weighty without being cloying, with flavors of ripe apples and pears that make it a wonderful white all year.
Buy: Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio Dolomiti, $15.99 for 750ml at Wine.com
Pinot Noir Under $20: Prisma Pinot Noir
Finding a great pinot noir for less than $20 is tough, as pinot is a finicky, expensive-to-grow grape. But Prisma has managed to turn out a perfect cool-climate Chilean pinot noir, with tangy cranberry and rhubarb flavors and just a hint of earthiness. It’s hand-harvested, sustainably-farmed, and the perfect accompaniment to a cheese and charcuterie plate that might have been a sophisticated appetizer in the Before Times, but, now, is dinner.
Buy: Prisma Pinot Noir, $16.99 for 750ml at Drizly
Sauvignon Blanc Under $20: Edna Valley Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
California sauvignon blanc — when it’s done well — is the wine equivalent of someone who jogs on the beach every morning and has a rustic-chic house filled with really expensive scented candles. “Lemony crisp, this sauvignon blanc has none of the overwhelming grapefruit punch of New Zealand SB, and would be perfect with a weeknight fish or shrimp dish,” Diane says.
Buy: Edna Valley Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, $10.49 for 750ml at Total Wine
Red at Trader Joe’s: Laurent Dublanc Côtes du Rhône
If you’re looking for a reliable house red wine that you can pick up at TJ’s, look no further. This is exactly what you want in a good, cheap red: clean (no weird, overly funky, “off” flavors or aromas), tastes like the place/grapes it’s made from, and isn’t trying to taste more expensive than it is by using a bunch of fake oak or tricks to make it look darker.
Related: The 10 Best Fall Wines from Trader Joe’s, According to a TikTok Sommelier
Rosé at Target: Bieler Père et Fils Sabine Rosé Wine
Provençe is where it’s at for that super-pale rosé style, but Aix-en-Provençe, the subregion where this wine is from, has higher elevation vineyard sites that make for more complex wines. A dash of the white grape Rolle in the blend gives a touch of snappy acidity. For something a little sweeter and more summery, go with the crisp and strawberry-scented Yes Way Rosé, which has a loyal following of Target shoppers.
Buy: Bieler Père et Fils Sabine Rosé Wine, $11.99 at Target
White at Aldi: Villanella Pinot Grigio
Villanella won’t blow you away with complexity, but it’s clean and refreshing, with subtle flavors of pear and melon and a dry, crisp finish. It’s also from Valdigue, the area of Italy that comprises Trentino-Alto-Adige and the Veneto, which is where most good pinot grigio comes from. A consistent winner.
Read more: Villanella Pinot Grigio
Bubbly at Costco: Kirkland Signature Champagne
Forget saving Champagne for special occasions. Can’t we all use more bubbles on the daily now? In true Costco spirit, what’s in the bottle matters more than what’s on the bottle with their Kirkland bubbly. Somehow only 20 bucks, it’s Authentic True Champagne (from France) and the pop of the cork is just as happy-making as bottles vastly more expensive. “I love it with fried chicken,” Dana McMahan says, but you should toast literally anything you find good in 2021 with this bottle of bright, tasty goodness.
Related: The Splurgy Costco Find I Always Buy for Myself Whenever It’s in Stock
All-Purpose White: Weingut Berger Grüner Veltliner
Grüner veltliner is the perfect everyday white, and this one from Berger is even better, because you get a liter instead of the standard 750ml. Refreshing, but not too tart, with flavors of crunchy pear and honeycrisp apple, it goes with almost anything. It’s just what you want in your refrigerator for a glass of white while you’re cooking, a quick pan sauce, or, if it’s been lingering for a few too many days, a white wine spritzer.
Buy: Weingut Berger Grüner Veltliner, $17.99 for 1L at Drizly
All-Purpose Red: Marcel Lapierre Raisins Gaulois
This winery is known for its Beaujolais, but this bottle is its answer to a house red. An unpretentious Gamay that’s fresh, exuberantly fruity, and best served a little cool, it goes with everything from roast chicken to steak to pad Thai. From certified organic vineyards in the “cru” area of Morgon in Beaujolais, it’s what to serve when you want to seem like you’re sophisticated and Know About Wine, but don’t want to seem like you’re trying too hard.
Buy: Marcel Lapierre Raisins Gaulois, $21.99 for 750ml at Wine.com
Boxed Red: La Vieille Ferme Red
The Perrin family are French winemaking royalty; they make everything from Chateau de Beaucastel (one of Chateauneuf-du-Pape’s most famous wineries) to Chateau Miraval, the rosé brand Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie founded. And they make Vieille Ferme, one of the most reliable labels available in grocery stores. A blend of carignan, grenache, cinsault, and syrah, it’s a solid, medium-bodied red with no icky fake oak, some nice ripe cherry flavors, and soft tannins.
Buy: La Vieille Ferme Red, $24.99 for 3L at Total Wine
Boxed White: Bota Box Chardonnay
Boxed chardonnays usually falter when winemakers try to make them taste more expensive than they are, with enough buttery character and vanilla from oak to make you feel like you’ve wandered into a Yankee Candle store. But if you let a simple wine just be what it is, well, what’s wrong with that? This chardonnay doesn’t have the richness or level of oak spice of more expensive California chardonnays, but what it does have tastes real, and it’ll stay tasting fresh for weeks.
Buy: Bota Box Chardonnay, $24.63 for 3L at Drizly
Date-Night Red: Domaine du Gour de Chaule Gigondas Cuvée Tradition
If you’re still living that socially distanced life, it can be hard to carve out time with your significant other. And even if you’re not, the idea of spending a night cuddled on the couch with a bellyful of great food and wine is never not a winner. For your next date night at home, get some fancy takeout or pull out a more involved recipe, and open up this grenache-based blend from France’s Rhone Valley. It’s rich enough to feel fancy, with flavors of sun-ripened strawberries and a hint of resinous herbs, but not so heavy that you’re limited to a roast when it comes to food pairing.
Buy: Domaine du Gour de Chaule Gigondas Cuvée Tradition, $29.99 for 750ml at Wine.com
Fancy White: Domaine Huet Le Mont Vouvray Sec
This is not your grandma’s blandly sweet Vouvray. This chenin blanc, from famed producer Huet and one of the most prized vineyard sites in Vouvray, smells like those fancy pears that come swaddled in styrofoam and gold foil, expensive herbal tea that calls itself tisane, and a touch of waxy church candle. When you taste it, an electric spark of acidity will jolt you right down to your toes. Whew!
Buy: Domaine Huet Le Mont Vouvray Sec, $41.99 for 750ml at K&L Wine Merchants
Bubbly: J Vineyards Cuvée 20
J’s Cuvée 20 is like Champagne’s more fun younger cousin, with aromas of toasted almonds and ginger, and flavors of ripe golden delicious apples and juicy pears. The texture of the bubbles is creamy and frothy and just a delight to drink. Pop one the next time you plan a decadent at-home brunch and want to have a very happy morning.
Buy: J Vineyards Cuvée 20, $33.99 for 750ml at Wine.com
Non-Alcoholic Wine: Navarro Pinot Noir Grape Juice
This is not actually non-alcoholic wine — it’s just grape juice. But it’s grape juice made from high-quality wine grapes. Navarro makes delicious pinot noir in California, and they also sell juice from pinot noir and gewürztraminer grapes that come in real wine bottles with corks and everything. Because this is juice, not wine, it’s pretty sweet, but you can really tell it’s pinot noir; it’s got kind of an Ocean Spray cranberry cocktail vibe, but better.
Wine for Pizza Night: Colosi Nero d’Avola
From Salina, an island in the volcanic Aeolian archipelago, this is a deliciously easy-drinking take on Sicily’s nero d’Avola grape. With flavors of ripe cherry and blackberry, a hint of dried fruit, and a tangy, mouthwatering finish, nero d’Avola is often compared to syrah, but it doesn’t have syrah’s meaty heft or huge tannins, making it perfect for almost any kind of pizza you might be having — even if that pizza came frozen in a box.
Buy: Colosi Nero d’Avola, $12.99 for 750ml at Wine.com
Wine for Steak Night: White Rock Claret
If ever there was a wine made for an expensive ribeye, it’s this naturally farmed blend of cabernet, merlot, cab franc, and petit verdot. The flavors of blueberry and blackberry, the hint of black tea aroma, the little bit of cocoa powder on the finish. Don’t even bother making a fancy sauce — this wine is the sauce.
Buy: White Rock Claret, $58.99 for 750ml at Wine.com
Wine for Sushi: Alberto Nanclares “Dandelion” Albariño
Often wines grown in coastal regions, like Spain’s albariño, are described as tasting briny and “of the seaside,” and that’s especially true of this wine. For a bracing accompaniment to sushi, at once lemony fresh and almost salty, there’s nothing better. Made from biodynamically grown grapes near the historic village famous for albariño, Cambados, it’s refreshing but surprisingly weighty — perfect for a night of splurging on sushi.
Buy: Alberto Nanclares “Dandelion” Albariño, $26 for 750ml at Vivino
Couch Wine: Bisson Ciliegiolo
Technically a light red wine, Bisson’s ciliegiolo, from steep vineyards along Italy’s Ligurian coastline, is marketed as a rosé in the U.S. It’s best chilled but not ice cold, and tastes of tart cherries and wild raspberries. The color is absolutely beautiful — a clear, perfect red that’s like holding a ripe raspberry up to the light. Pair this with salty snacks, comfy clothes, and a night snuggled on the couch doing absolutely nothing.
Buy: Bisson Ciliegiolo, $19.99 for 750ml at Heights Chateau
Wine for Discussing Politics: Montenidoli Vernaccia
We couldn’t help ourselves: We had to pick an orange wine. Because, well, you get it. This wine has more of a deep honey color and flavors of almonds, resinous herbs, and orchard fruits, with more heft and a bit of tannin. It might even be complex and interesting enough to keep you from biting all your nails off while you wait for the midterm results.
Buy: Montenidoli Vernaccia, $24.99 for 750ml at Drizly
Wine to Have with Dessert: Quinta de la Rosa Lot 601 Ruby Port
Port seems to call to mind one of two extremes: the super-expensive vintage wines meant to be cellared for decades, or the cheap, overly sweet stuff. This ruby port from Quinta de la Rosa is a great combination of affordable and delicious. Reminiscent of raspberry jam, it’s smooth, luscious, and sweet, but not cloyingly so, and is great on its own or with dark chocolate.
Buy: Quinta de la Rosa Lot 601 Ruby Port, $18.99 for 500ml at Wine.com
Best Way to Spend $100: Champagne Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas François
With more than 10 years of bottle age (2006 is the current vintage available of this wine), Cuvée Nicolas is a rare example of a prestige bottling from a famous Champagne house that has the substance to back up its high price. Made with fruit highly ranked in Champagne’s “echelle des crus” system, it’s at the age where it’s beginning to develop complex aromas of honey and tea, and has kind of a burnished, marmalade flavor to it.
Buy: Champagne Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas François, $99.99 for 750ml at K&L Wine Merchants
Canned Wine: Vina Maitia Aupa Pipeño
This is a modern take on an old-school style of Chilean red. Meant to be drunk chilled, it’s full of bright cranberry and raspberry fruit, and it’s dangerously drinkable. While some wines end up tasting a bit chemical-y and off when they’re canned, Aupa tastes just as great out of these cute turquoise cans as it does from a traditional bottle. Perfect for taking on a fall picnic or to your next socially distanced hangout.
Buy: Vina Maitia Aupa Pipeño, $21 for four cans at Grand Cata
Wine Subscription: The Quarterly Wine Club
Missing the occasional tasting room visit? Feeling too antsy to commit to an entire bottle? Vinebox club members get nine wines, by the glass, every three months. And they’re always surprising, interesting, and satisfying. The company also has fun wine Advent calendars, featuring 12 different samples.
Buy: The Quarterly Wine Club, $79