Thanksgiving Wine

By now you have likely finalized your Thanksgiving dinner menu and compiled your grocery list.

Have you given enough thought to the most important component of the meal? More crucial than the turkey or stuffing or cranberry sauce?

Have you given enough thought to the Thanksgiving wine?!

Sometimes this can be tricky. You will want to select wines that appeal to a wide variety of palates and that pairs well with the range of dishes on your Thanksgiving table.

Pinot Noir

My “go-to” red wine for this type of situation is Pinot Noir. Usually a crowd favorite as a flavorful but not too heavy red wine, this varietal is a real chameleon when it comes to pairing with food.

Pinot Noir goes with just about anything.

Here are a few of my favorites. These should be available at your local wine store. I’ve even found them at our grocery store.

2012 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

2012 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir

This yummy wine is a blend of Pinot Noir grapes from a number of different locations (including the Bien Nacido Vineyard) in Santa Barbara County. The winemakers kept each vineyard’s wine separate for 6 months to let each develop their individual flavors before blending them into this gem.

The wine has notes of red berries and a hint of clove making it a great wine to go with both the tangy and sweet Thanksgiving dishes like cranberry sauce as well as the savory dishes like sweet potatoes and stuffing.

The 2012 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir retails for about $22 per bottle.

2012 Byron Pinot Noir

2012 Byron Pinot Noir

This is another great Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir. At $19 per bottle, it brings lots of great cherry flavor that is balanced by some minerality. In my opinion, this yin and yang of sweet and savory notes, along with the medium body, explain why Pinot Noir goes so well with all kinds of food.

While the 2012 Byron Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir won’t necessarily knock the socks off your family’s wine aficionado, it has a good, crowd pleasing flavor.

2011 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

2011 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Let’s say you got off easy this year and get to be a guest at someone else’s Thanksgiving table. In addition to your assigned dish for the pot-luck dinner, perhaps you want to bring a special bottle of wine that you hope (fingers crossed!) the hosts will open on the spot and share with you and the other guests.

The 2011 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($45 per bottle) would be a very good choice. You might remember that I told you about this wine as part of my Pinot-Palooza post.

Although climate challenges made 2011 a tough year for winemaking, Robert Parker of Wine Advocate awarded the Flowers Pinot Noir with a score of 91 points. This is what he had to say:

A model of total elegance and class, the 2011 Pinot Noir from Flowers is absolutely gorgeous. Savory herbs, crushed flowers, licorice, salt, orange peel, mint and plums are all woven together in the glass. Today, the 2011 is impeccably crafted and flat-out gorgeous. Although very much a medium-bodied wine, I would not at all be surprised to see the 2011 blossom with more time in bottle. This is an impressive effort. Unfortunately, the Sonoma Coast was the only 2011 Flowers Pinot I was able to taste, but based on this effort, 2011 is certainly shaping up well here. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2021.

Think about it. Savory herbs, orange peel, plum. Wouldn’t these complement Thanksgiving dinner’s variety of flavors very well?

Just be sure you are first in line to grab a bit of this wine before the bottle is empty!

White Wines

I’m not much of a fan of Chardonnay so I’m going to lead you in a different direction for the white wine to go with your white (and dark) meat turkey dinner.

Perhaps a little non-traditional, I think that these wines will bring an element of lightness and brightness to offset the inevitable turkey coma that we all feel at the end of our feast.

2012 Trefethen Dry Riesling

2012 Trefethen Dry Riesling

This is another wine I have mentioned in an earlier post.

I just love this wine. It is not too pricey ($20 per bottle) but brings a lot of flavor and body.

Some people have a bias against Riesling because they expect it to be sweet. This dry Riesling would change their mind.

It would be interesting to serve this wine to some of your white wine loving guests without telling them which varietal you were pouring. I’m guessing you would have some Riesling converts.

2011 Tatomer Vandenberg Riesling

2011 Tatomer Vandenberg Riesling

Another great Santa Barbara wine, the 2011 Tatomer Vandenberg Dry Riesling ($23 per bottle) is the wine that opened my eyes to the fabulousness of a dry Riesling.

Steven Tanzer of International Wine Cellar awarded this wine 91 points; Robert Parker gave it 89 points. Both mention the nice, medium body and great finish. Hints of honey and Meyer lemon would match well with a dish of candied yams or glazed carrots.


2013 Hendry Albariño

If you really want to go non-traditional, how about going with an Albariño (pronounced Alba-reen-yo)?

Similar to a Viognier, this wine (with roots in Spain) is an excellent food wine. Albariño has great body and high acidity which means it can stand up to hearty foods in a way that many white wines can not.

I’ve told you about our visit to Hendry Vineyards. I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for Hendry wines because our experience tasting with George Hendry was so memorable.

The 2013 Hendry Albariño ($20 per bottle) brings floral notes and a hint of Meyer lemon with plenty of body and finish. It is bright without being wimpy.

No one wants wimpy wine.

This Albariño would be a great first-course wine but I’d also love it with a savory starch dish like potatoes or stuffing.


With the wide range of flavors and textures in your meal, there is no single right answer to the Thanksgiving wine pairing question. Why not try something new this Thanksgiving?  Oh, and be sure to let me know what you choose!

In case you missed it, here is my Thanksgiving wine post from last year which includes some tips on choosing and serving the wine.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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  1. Mo… great post! My favorite food group on Thanksgiving or every other holiday for that matter is wine! Enjoy your week with your newest addition!

  2. great selections! I am going to have to do a little sampling. We like a chilled Vino Verde with Thanksgiving dinner – it is a little sparkly and light so it doesn’t overpower all the super rich food.
    Laura Ehlers recently posted…Suh Early…My Profile

  3. Sharing, Mo! Not sure if it’ll be applicable to my Canadian pals (as in how readily available these beauts are) but it’s hugely valuable to the American ones. You are a treasure of info. Thank you. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
    Kelly McKenzie recently posted…I Thought I Was Going To DieMy Profile

    • Thanks, Kelly! And thanks for sharing! I’m very behind on my reading but love, love, loved your “I Thought I Was Going To Die” post! Your public humiliation was worth it for that gem of a post!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Thanksgiving WineMy Profile

  4. Going to buy my wine and flowers today! I will look for the Flowers – sounds delicious – don’t you just love wine descriptions 🙂

  5. Perfect timing as I need to get wine to take to our shindig. How about non traditional since pies were taken care of, I am bringing chocolate cake for dessert.

  6. I just brought the turkey home, along with a few bottles of Pinot Noir! Thank goodness you approve! I’ve never seen the Flowers label, but I’m going to look for it and branch out a bit. The Pilgrims would want me to be adventurous.
    Leslie Anne recently posted…Comment on Going back to Tallahassee by PatsyMy Profile

  7. I love the Flowers wine! And definitely going to be drinking some pinot noir on Thursday.
    Kate recently posted…Vuelta a la realidadMy Profile

  8. I haven’t planned any of our Thanksgiving dinner but I know there will be wine!!!
    Kim recently posted…I’ve Been off Track but It’s Time to Turn Things Around!My Profile

  9. I will be drinking water with my Thanksgiving dinner, but a Bloody Mary or two that morning. 🙂 I thought of you on Saturday night, Mo. We were at a party where they were serving beer and wine, and I opted for wine. I asked for white, and the bartender rattled off a few choices about which I knew nothing. I ended up with a moscato, which was super sweet and not very enjoyable. I thought, “If only Mo were here. She would have set me straight.”
    Dana recently posted…Tequila and testiclesMy Profile

    • Dana, I’m so touched that you thought of me! I guess there is a time and place for moscato but I think it is one of those wines for which there is a really big difference between a good version and a terrible one. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Thanksgiving WineMy Profile

  10. i’ve had trefethen. i am eyeing that flowers bottle!
    catherine recently posted…Holman Ranch to the RescueMy Profile

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