Thanksgiving poses a dilemma to the assiduous food and wine pairer. What wine pairs with turkey, ham, cranberry relish and sweet potatoes? Did we mention the pecan pie?
Given the wide assortment of dishes on the Thanksgiving table—to say nothing of the palates and predilections of the numerous guests—it’s impossible to pick one wine that fits all. Rather, go with an assortment of different wines and allow your guests to mix and match. I'm not big on breaking the budget for Thanksgiving wines, but there’s no reason to sacrifice quality.
They're perfect for Thanksgiving because they pair so well with a variety of dishes and can also be served as an aperitif. From Washington, the Treveri Cellars Gewürztraminer Demi-Sec Columbia Valley Sparkling Wine ($18, non-vintage) is an absolutely delicious wine, redolent with spice and lychee notes.
Sticking with this grape, but moving into still wines, the 2013 Dowsett Family Winery Gewürztraminer Celilo Vineyard Columbia Gorge ($22) is an aromatic tour de force with notes of lychee and rose petal with a lot of hang time on the finish. Please pass the gravy.
Another go-to Thanksgiving wine, the grape’s natural acidity helps it pair well with a variety of dishes. The 2012 For A Song Riesling Caliche Lake Vineyard Columbia Valley ($10) is a steal at this price. It brings notes of peach and orange blossom with medium sweet fruit flavors with well-balanced acidity. The Tempus Cellars 2013 Riesling Evergreen Vineyard Ancient Lakes ($18) is a perfect Thanksgiving wine with off-dry apricot, mineral, and floral flavors backed by lively acidity.
This stalwart Washington grape can have a place at the Thanksgiving table too. The 2013 Three Rivers Steel Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2013 ($14)—it's stainless steel fermented—brings notes of apple, melon and pear with a lightly viscous feel. Meanwhile the 2013 L’Ecole No 41 Chardonnay Columbia Valley ($20) is a spot on wine with notes of peach and pear, showing an exquisite sense of balance.
It’s best to leave big, oaky wines (think Cabernet Sauvignon) until after dinner. The acid in some of the Thanksgiving fare is probably going to make the wines seem too woody. Consider a variety like pinot noir. The 2012 Erath Pinot Noir Oregon ($19) is a good representation of this generous vintage in the state with a mixture of cranberry, pomegranate and plum aromas and flavors.
No matter what wines you pour this Thanksgiving remember this important rule: make sure to leave room for seconds.