Forget About the Turkey – Thanksgiving is All About the Wine

thanksgiving wine pairings

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Don’t know which wine to select for Thanksgiving dinner? Our local experts share their go-to pairings so there’s nothing to “wine” about come turkey day.

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Brut Champagne Blend & Zinfandel

Cory Checket – Owner, Battello

Thanksgiving presents a very interesting challenge from a pairing point of view, as the variety of foods at a traditional Thanksgiving table vary wildly across the flavor spectrum…For this reason, I always recommend (and drink) multiple wines at the Thanksgiving table, often times simultaneously. For the first course, I always suggest a nice champagne. Champagne naturally pairs with any and all foods and is also a great celebratory beverage. I will be drinking the Vilmart & Cie Grand Cellier Premier Cru Brut. You could pick that up at any boutique wine shop for under $70.

For the main course, I would not argue with anything from a semi-sweet Riesling from Germany to an earthy, light Pinot Noir from Burgundy, France. Personally, I will be enjoying a Zinfandel from the good ol’ US of A, specifically the Mauritson Rockpile “Cemetery Vineyard” Zinfandel from Sonoma County. The highly concentrated fruit of this Zinfandel is magic with cranberry sauce and the higher alcohol content assures that my family and I will laugh hard and late throughout the evening.

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Valtellina Superiore Grumello

Mike Lykens – General Manager & Sommelier, Brick Farm Tavern

The wine I will be having this Thanksgiving is Arpepe “Rocca de Piro” Grumello, Valtellina Superior.  It is a beautiful expression of Nebbiolo coming from Northern Italy in the Alps. It has a wonderful balance of earthy minerality, ripe red fruit, and a structure that makes it an absolutely beautiful wine with all of the rich food my wife and I will be consuming.

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Beaujolais Fleurie

Carl Rohrbach – DWS, Elements

For Thanksgiving this year, I will be enjoying Jean Dutraive (Grand’Cour) 2014 Fleurie, “Le Clos,” Cuvée Vieilles Vignes, a 100% Gamay wine from Beaujolais in France.

The wine is bright, fresh, delicious, and perhaps, the perfect wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. Beaujolais has a negative image in many wine consumers minds and that’s a crying shame. This wine has beautiful bright red fruits (think cranberries), flowers, subtle spice and gorgeous earthy flavors to go along with low tannins, alcohol, and a mouthwatering acidity. The structure and complexity of this old vine Fleurie is unmatched even by some red Burgundy producers.

This is a wine that won’t overpower your Thanksgiving meal, but rather take a back seat to the flavors on the table, while at the same time providing refreshment that most reds will lack.

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Rose

Bruce Lefebvre – Chef/Owner, Frog and the Peach

I like Gueissard Bandol Rose because it is refreshing and light, yet it has the backbone to go with everything from Hors d’ Oeuvres and the sides, to the turkey.

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Chardonnay & Rosso della Valle

Violetta & Sergio Neri – Owners, Hopewell Valley Vineyards 

Our HVV Chardonnay Estate Grown is a medium-bodied, oak-aged Chardonnay that boasts flavors of pear, apple, and vanilla. It’s an excellent complement to rich sauces or chicken that might be at your turkey dinner. It has a smooth finish and should be served chilled.

Our HVV Rosso della Valle Estate Grown is a medium-bodied red wine with a pleasantly long finish. Our vinter’s blend embodies sweet aromas of raisin, raspberry, and plum. It’s best when enjoyed with cheese, roasted chicken, lamb, grilled food, and pasta.

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Mas Conscience Rouge

Stephnie Beaudry – General Manager, Princeton Corkscrew Wine Shop

Obviously, my job every Thanksgiving is to choose the wine for our family dinner. Luckily, this year’s decision for our red was made back in February, when I had the opportunity to taste Domaine du Mas Conscience’s Cuvée Cieux at their estate in the Languedoc region of France. I immediately fell in love with this 100% Cinsault, a varietal sometimes called ‘the Pinot Noir of the South,’ because of the elegance and versatility it can exhibit. This wine is gorgeous, and its lush red berry fruit and silky tannins will pair perfectly with roasted turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and the rest of our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The 2013 Domaine du Mas Conscience Cuvée Cieux is $18, and only available at the Princeton Corkscrew Wine Shop, which is open on Thanksgiving Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Chardonnay

Michaela Gravelle – General Manager, ONE 53

By the time family dinner is over, I’ve moved on to bourbon! But in considering wine pairings for Thanksgiving, it’s an American holiday so let’s focus on American wines.  If you like the dark meat, try a cabernet sauvignon.  We like the Hoopes, “The Mutt” and Liparita.  For the white meat lovers, a nice pinot noir works well. Try Failla or for a lower price point, Planet Oregon.  For white wine lovers you can’t go wrong with a nice chardonnay.  Right now we are enjoying the Hoopes Chardonnay.  All for sale at retail pricing at ONE 53.  The “rules” don’t always apply.  Bottom line – drink what you enjoy.  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!