Thanksgiving is here, and I can already taste turkey and gravy! Of course, turkey is never the only menu item. At my house, there are at least a dozen other offerings, from prime rib to sweet potatoes. Some would go well with white wine, while others with red. Some would go well with dry wines and some with some residual sugar. Around this time of year, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “If you only had one wine to drink for Thanksgiving, what would it be?” For me, I would recommend Alsace Gewurztraminer. It’s full bodied enough to pair well with richer dishes, yet light enough on its feet to go well with lighter fare. But, I’m only one person. There are many other wine professionals that have differing opinions. So, I asked some of the top wine professionals in California what they would recommend if they only had one wine for Thanksgiving. The results might surprise you! Here’s what they said…
Christopher Gaither, Sociale, San Francisco – Chenin Blanc from Vouvray or Montlouis. Sec-tender, and something with at least a couple years of age. The sweetness will work well with the sweet and savory accompaniments for dinner. The wine will have excellent acidity, and won’t overpower the taste buds. Easy drinking for a family gathering.
Gary Sullivan, Studio Restaurant at Montage, Laguna Beach – Ruche di Castagnole di Monferrato. Ripe red and blue fruits with a satin-like texture. Assertive flavor and weight… just what you need to wash down a second plate!
Tesh Diyal, The Kitchen, Sacramento – Amador Zinfandel. It is, in my humble opinion, the perfect pairing for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s starting to get cold outside and when you think of wine, you think of red wine. It’s comforting and has classic cranberry notes, making it a delicious wine to wash down all that turkey.
Rachel Macalasang, The Bazaar by Jose Andres, Beverly Hills – My grape of choice during Thanksgiving is Grenache. It’s my favorite grape varietal and has expressions of bright red fruit which is playful yet delivers complexity. Priorat from Spain or Chateau Neuf-du-Pape in France are my top picks for great expressions of Grenache.
Martin Sheehan-Stross, Michael Mina, San Francisco – Not a big cider guy, but I do like it to get the holidays started!
Jeff Birkemeier, Stave at the Inn at Spanish Bay, Monterey – I bring Bugey-Cerdon every year. I have a lot of folks in my family that only drink once a year, and they like to have some sugar. They find the bubbles to be a plus as well. Low alcohol, versatile and a great pair with the main course. It is hedonistic!
Joshua Plack, Martis Camp, Lake Tahoe – Top quality Red Burgundy. My customers enjoy wines of depth and prestige during the holidays. It pairs well with the traditional meal and offers a memorable experience.
So, there you have it. Regardless of what you decide, I wish you and your family a happy and memorable Thanksgiving! Cheers!
About the Expert: Reggie Narito, Master Sommelier
Reggie Narito is a Master Sommelier and wine educator for Young’s Market Company. As Vice President of Fine Wine for The Estates Group, Young’s fine wine division, Reggie offers more than 25 years of expertise for all channels, customers, and consumer markets. Reggie’s strong command of fine wine and advanced knowledge of the distribution industry provides a platform for him to lead educational wine seminars across the ten markets where Young’s operates.
Reggie has been featured in the popular wine documentary film SOMM, Esquire Network’s series Uncorked, and multiple media publications. Reggie is known for his big personality, colorful storytelling, and is sought after for his insight on fine wines from around the world.