Simple Hedonisms – Simple Suggestions For Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

It’s the time of the year when people often agonize over what canadian pharmacy discount code viagra to buy and serve over the Holidays, especially Thanksgiving, which tends to be poultry (gobble gobble) focused.

While I won’t go as elaborate as the article Jon Bonne’, (one of my favorite wine writers) published last week in Three wine strategies for Thanksgiving dinner’ , I will try to be creative and offer a mainstream and an adventurous suggestion.

Throughout the article I have created links, in the name of the varietal, to previous reviews.

The ADHD Version:

If you can’t read for more than thirty seconds: go Bubbles and Pinot Noir. Essentially a white and a red, that pair with, and please, almost everyone.

Where To Shop:

Do not go to your local large grocery store and stare at the massive aisles of wine, that for the most part really offer very little differentiation, despite appearances. If you are wanting to expand your wine knowledge and palate, its time you form a relationship with a local wine shop, that brings in a variety of domestic and

imported wines. The latter both to expand your horizons (Try a French or Australian chardonnay in comparison to California) as well as good values.

Its Thanksgiving, do buy local or American and at least partially support our economy.

Budget – Match it to Your Drinkers…. – er I Mean Guests

I try and match the wine expenditure to the crowd and its levels of wine interest and experience. I will never forget the Thanksgiving a ‘wine lover’ poured half a bottle of Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot (pricey and hard to come by) into his glass and swilled it down, saying ‘not too sweet’ – arrgh.

This can be hard to gauge for large crowds or a dinner party where you don’t know everyone. If its the family, and wine isn’t their thing, bring some good value bottles, but perhaps hold on to those most special bottles. Or smuggle one in and stash it to pour with your best friend or partner who loves wine as much as you do. Let Uncle Jimmy go to town on that $12 Malbec, while you drink the Arnot Roberts allocation.

If its a dinner soiree in San Francisco with strangers, err on the other side, with at least 1-2 good bottles, to make a good impression.

(1) Wine To Start, Mingling and Apertifs


White: A good Sauvignon Blanc is something that will please most. (Except those burly types who puff out their chest, and proclaim “real wine drinkers only drink red.” For them roll your eyes and pour them some Two Buck Chuck, and let them have at the Megapurple and wood chip derived concoction. (See the Jon Bonne’ cheap wine article in bottom section.)

Good value Sauvignon Blanc, widely distributed by larger producers like Rodney Strong and Dry Creek Vineyards can be readily found in a pinch and have been previously reviewed and recommended. A little pricier ($22), but more unique and Sancerre style is one of my favorite California Sauv Blancs – from Inspiration Vineyards in Santa Rosa.

Pink – I also recommend a good dry rosé. I have written repeatedly to dismiss the myth that Rosé is strictly a summer wine. This ‘pink’ wine, derived from red grapes, pairs well with food, or standalone, all year round.

Red – Its always good to have a red on hand as well, a decent domestic Pinot Noir should please many. If you want to be really safe, some people always drink Cabernet, the king of reds, no matter what you are serving or recommending.


Bubbles are almost a universal pairing wine; from salty potato chips from desert. Nothing is as festive or widely received. If someone in your house won’t drink bubbles, tell them Bah Humbug and hand them a Coors Light. Sparkling wine also can run the gamut of good value for $10, usually imported. For value sparkling, look for a good Cava from Spain. High quality Prosecco from Italy has emerged as a hot market this last year as well. There is a wide selection of $20-$60 mid priced Napa and Sonoma sparkling wineries, and then of course ‘true’ Champagne. Adjust your selection and budget based on the previous crowd suggestion.

Vinho Verde, Dry Gewurtzaminer, Gruner Veltliner, Grenache Blanc

(2) For the Main Course:

I actually like to allow guests, room permitting, to have 3 or 4 glasses at their setting. If a sparkling or a rosé was poured previously, its often fun to continue to pour these, and try them with food pairings. Let people sip and nibble and try a myriad of food and wine pairings.

White Wine:

Mainstream: Chardonnay is the Queen of California whites. Our classic California oaky, buttery Chardonnays

goes decently with Turkey, but a better match is a Chardonnay, that is leaner, less oaky/buttery, a trend many winemakers jumping on. One can even play with unoaked Chardonnay, although I’d suggest leaving a crisper wine like that for starters.

Adventurous: Go Rhone. Look for a Rhone white blend that contains 25%+Roussanne – a denser white varietal (sometimes referred to as a winter white.) This may also be blended with Marsanne, Viognier, and Grenache Blanc. The Roussanne (and the Marsanne) provide some mouthfeel, weight and density that will pair well with food. Avoid overly floral Viognier dominant blends, or overly acid Grenache Blanc based if you aren’t familiar with the wine.

Red Wine:


Some will argue Cabernet is a great Thanksgiving match – while it certainly does please the typical wine consumer, its generally better for roasted meats at Christmas, if turkey is your Thanksgiving meat, I’d recommend a Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir varies widely by region and producer. For mass appeal, most Russian River or Central coast bigger Pinots are a hit. For those who like their Pinot leaner, and higher in acid, steer to Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, Sonoma Coast, or Oregon. (Please note this is a general rule of thumb – each region has a full range of styles.)


Following the path Pinot Noir and softer reds, try a Grenache. This Rhone red, when left to express itself, is a pretty, soft, red wine. Avoid dark color, over oaked, or a high blend of Syrah added. Grenache is naturally a lighted red. I have many favorites including Holly’s Hill, David Girard, Bonny Doon, Philip Staley, Wind Gap, Tablas Creek, Mounts, Quivira, and more.

The most important thing – relax, have fun, and enjoy the moments with dear friends and family – these are after all also a part of ‘simple hedonisms’ – life is short and precious, enjoy it.


Related Articles:

Three wine strategies for Thanksgiving dinner (Jon Bonne’)

Pinot and Rhone-style whites for Thanksgiving dinner (Jon Bonne’)

The False Promise of Cheap Wine (Jon Bonne’)

Chardonnay regains respect – now to maintain it. (Jon Bonne’)

Wine Review: Rodney Strong Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc; suggested holiday pairings

Wine of the Week: Cartograph 2009 Floodgate Vineyard Gewürztraminer

Tasting Notes: Ortman 02 Series Grenache Rosé – Paso Robles

Seeing California Chardonnay in a New Light: #Chardonnay Day Greenhouse Tasting, Attendees Top Picks.

Wine of the Week, Winery of the Month – Tablas Creek 2010 Patelin de Tablas Blanc

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing for email updates, and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter.

3 Responses to “Simple Hedonisms – Simple Suggestions For Thanksgiving Wine Pairings”

Leave a Reply

Get Simple Hedonisms via Email

Your email is always secure and never distributed. (You will need to click an activation link via email to complete your subscription.)

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Wine on Instagram
Reaching over 8,000 Readers A Month!
Unique Monthly Readers (not hits), as reported by Bluehost Awstats
North Coast Tasting Rooms
Like Rhone Wines? Check out these North Coast Rhone Rangers locations. Click here to download the printable four page map.
Subscribe Via Google Reader/RSS
Follow Me on Pinterest
August 2017
« Dec    
Past Articles and Reviews
Cellar Tracker Tasting Notes - Last 50