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Choosing a Great Wine for Thanksgiving

Updated on April 28, 2015

A Season Worth Toasting!

What is the most delicious part of Thanksgiving?

Is it the juicy, fragrant turkey? The squashes and yams that are fall's best treats? The pumpkin pie and whipped cream? Or the wine?

For those who want to create an elegant meal full of textures and tastes, wine is the perfect addition. And it can also be a bit difficult to choose.

Check out some suggestions below for picking the perfect Thanksgiving wine!

Flickr Photo Credit  -   hzeller
Flickr Photo Credit - hzeller

Versatility and Plenitude

Do you serve the same wine for appetizers through dessert? Should you switch for different courses or provide a variety to accommodate for your guests' different palettes? Or, in the stress of dealing with your family and friends, should you just imbibe straight out of the bottle in the kitchen?

The last question is the easiest to answer: no!

Wine encourages us to take the time to sip and enjoy the scents, flavors, and textures that your Thanksgiving meal has to offer.

According to the New York Times's Eric Asimov, worrying about which wine to serve is completely ridiculous. Why? Because Thanksgiving is a wonderful combination of contrasts: you have the savory turkey and gravy, sweet squash and yams, tart cranberry sauce, garlic and herb-laced potatoes, and much more. With all of this variety, Asimov advises, "The wine selection task couldn't be simpler: versatility and plenitude."

Flickr Photo Credit  -  Dinner Series
Flickr Photo Credit - Dinner Series


A good way to choose your wines is to ask your guests to bring a bottle of their favorite.

If you have wine-loving friends and family, you will get a tremendous variety, from Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and White Zinfandel to organic wines and great bottles from local wineries. This certainly provides the "versatility" of which Asimov speaks.

This way, you and your guests can sample a variety of wines and possible find a new favorite.

Thanksgiving Wine Gifts

California Wine Trio Basket
California Wine Trio Basket

If you have a friend or family member who cannot join you for Thanksgiving, then send them a gift filled with delicious wines! A wine gift basket is a thoughtful way to help them celebrate with warm thoughts and good taste!

The basket shown here includes three bottles of California wine (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet), along with some delicious treats to share! Check out this great Thanksgiving basket and more at All About Gifts & Baskets.

Flickr Photo Credit  - Julie, Dave & Family
Flickr Photo Credit - Julie, Dave & Family

Selections for Every Budget

Another consideration is your budget, and in regards to wine, you're in luck.

While you can spend several hundred or thousand dollars on a single bottle of wine, there are many more varieties that you can find for under $20. While connoisseurs may scoff at the idea, there are actually very good wines to be had from your local grocery store. The 2008 McWilliam's Cabernet Sauvignon Hanwood Estate from Australia is available for just over $10. Here are some suggestions that you will find very tasty:

Pinot Grigio. This tends to be lighter and more fruity. For a more full-bodied wine, opt for Pinot Gris. Riesling is a dry, sweet aromatic wine. Great for the many textures and flavors of Thanksgiving. Gewürztraminer. This is very fragrant and ideal for the spicy and tart dishes, like cranberry sauces and chutneys. Gamay is fresh and light enough to drink with appetizers through the main meal. Zinfandel is fruity, a perfect companion to turkey. For dessert, try an ice wine. This is wine that is made from grapes that are frozen while still on the vine. These are typically more expensive; a bottle of Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2006, for example, costs between $50 and $90, while a bottle of Vermont Ice costs about $60. If this is too much for your budget, try Hogue Cellars Late Harvest White Riesling. This has nice citrus and apricot flavors that go perfectly with pie, apple crisp, cheesecakes, and white chocolate desserts. And it is only $10 for a bottle. Very yummy!Again, keep your budget in mind. The Kitchn, for example, recommends the 2008 Clos La Chance Hummingbird series, which is "refreshing, medium bodied with hints of guava on the nose and hints of spice on the palate." It has great peach and ruby grapefruit tones. And it's only $15.The point is that you do not have to spend a fortune; if you are going to be a guest at someone else's feast, you can easily afford to provide a great bottle that will look - and taste - more expensive than it is.

Flickr Photo Credit  -  CarbonNYC
Flickr Photo Credit - CarbonNYC

Final Word . . .

Eric Asimov gives one last piece of advice: "...the most important thing you can do is choose wines you really like. That way, if nobody else is happy, you will at least have pleased yourself."


Stop by and say "Hi!" - Do you have a favorite holiday wine?

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    • lewisgirl profile image

      lewisgirl 5 years ago

      I love wine and living in wine country, western New York, we have plenty of choices. I like the ice wines which are a little sweet, would make for a good desert wine.

    • squid-janices7 profile image

      squid-janices7 5 years ago

      You've shared some great wines for under $20 - love that! Also - those Thanksgiving wine charms are adorable and a must-have for my family parties because everyone drinks wine. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • kimmer1491 profile image

      Kim 5 years ago from Big Lake, MN

      I'm not a huge wine fan, but I do love Moscato - a bubbly combination of white wine and champagne. This goes very well with turkey dinner! After reading these tips, I may ask our Thanksgiving guests to bring along a bottle and we'll have a little wine tasting.