Best Thanksgiving Wines — a Bottle for Every Table (and Course)

These Worthy Wines Will Make it Feel like a True Holiday

BY // 11.12.19

In San Luis Obispo County, very near the Pacific Ocean, lies a vineyard by the name of Spanish Springs. From it, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir emanate, some bottled under the label Oceano Wines. I recently tasted the 2017 Oceano Wines Chardonnay, and it is an intriguing pour.

It will be on my holiday table this year, because I want to offer my guests something to enjoy with their smoked turkey. It’s the opening selection in this year’s Thanksgiving Wine List.

Serve this with turkey, or chicken, but do open a bottle of it on Thanksgiving. (Courtesy Oceano Wines)

The first things you’ll pick up on when tasting this Chardonnay are the bracing floral and citrus notes. Swirl your glass and breathe them in. I served it at around 54 degrees Fahrenheit  — as a reminder, don’t make the mistake of serving your white wines too cold — and the aromas were pronounced and pleasant.

This Chardonnay has remarkable acidity. It is crisp and bracing, and your guests will appreciate it in their glasses. You can find it for around $38 at your favorite merchant, or direct from the winery by clicking here.

You won’t want to start your festivities with the Chardonnay, however. To welcome your guests (and for you to sip while you cook), let’s go with some sparkling wines. Up first, the 2018 Lambrusco Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbara “Premium Vecchia Modena” DOC.

If you’ve never had this wine, or have the wrong idea about Lambrusco, I urge you to get a bottle, chill it, and open it while you are making your pies, pouring yourself a glass to sample. This is quality Lambrusco, refreshing and wonderfully (mildly) effervescent.

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When your guests arrive, pour them some. It’s $16 a bottle.

This next selection will be for your more, shall we say, standard guests, the ones who drink the same four or five wines (mostly) and hardly ever deign to leave their lane. Serve them the Taittinger Brut Millesime 2012 ($119).

It’s from a great Champagne house, it’s a medium-bodied wine that will pair well with your fare, and it’s an elegant blending of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The finish will wow, with refinement.

You have one Chardonnay, the Oceano, and you deserve another for Thanksgiving. It’s made by a fine gentleman named David Ramey, and I find myself going back to this bottle again and again. It’s the 2016 Fort Ross-Seaview Chardonnay from Ramey Wine Cellars ($42).

The grapes that produced this wine hail from the Martinelli Charles Ranch — lots of sandstone and slate — and whole-cluster pressing is used here. The cool-climate vineyard produces low yield and small berries, resulting in a rich, refined Chardonnay. I want to taste this with turkey and sweet potatoes.

On to a red wine, and it’s a Pinot Noir, from Inman Family Wines. The 2016 Olivet Grange Vineyard Pinot Noir is a wine you’ll not soon forget, and neither will your Thanksgiving guests. There were 200 cases made, and the grapes come from an excellent spot of land in the Russian River Valley.

The Olivet Grange Vineyard — situated at the intersection of Olivet and Piner roads — is 10.45 acres on which 6.6 acres of Pinot Noir and 0.7 acres of Pinot Gris are planted. Watch the video below for a look at the vineyard:

Kathleen Inman farms the plot organically, and this vintage is full of quality. You’ll taste cherry and a slightly spicy strawberry; the garnet color is appealing, and your guests that prefer a red wine or white will adore this one. It sells for around $73.

Finally, dessert, which you will most definitely serve on Thanksgiving. Whether it’s pumpkin pie, apple pie, or my favorite, pecan pie, I want you to try the 2016 Thistle Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Medlock Ames. It’s $40, and you can buy it directly from the source. The AVA is Alexander Valley, and I had the pleasure of tasting this bottle during a recent trip to Napa and Sonoma.

This dessert pour is 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc, and it’s aged for 14 months in 100 percent neutral French oak. Honeysuckle, lemon, a tantalizing note of nutmeg . . . those are all here, and the winemakers let the fruit hang long enough for botrytis cinerea to develop.

The result? A glass of wine that will end your meal on a rich and sweet note.

Here’s to Thanksgiving, and no matter what you cook on the 28th, eat and drink with those you love.

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