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The Best Wines to Pair with Thanksgiving Dinner

by Hanna Brooks Olsen
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holiday wine pairings

Photo via Flickr

Bringing wine to a holiday or Thanksgiving dinner party can be…fraught, to say the least. You know it’s impolite to show up empty-handed (hence, the wine), but what if you make a poor selection? If you’re not especially versed in wine tasting and pairings, you might default to picking the bottle with the prettiest label, the most interesting description, or the most apt-seeming price-point. Whether you’re looking for a red wine Zinfandel from France or a sparkling wine with fruit flavors, wine doesn’t have to be so vexing. A little information goes a long way.

Rather than playing the which-wine guessing game as you stand among other frazzled shoppers, we asked Master Sommelier and author Richard Betts — who emphasizes that “wine is a grocery, not a luxury,” about the best wine pairings for your holiday gatherings — particularly Thanksgiving wine to help accompany the rich flavors of cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes (or sweet potatoes) and pumpkin pie at the Thanksgiving table.


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Here’s his definitive guide for Thanksgiving dinner wines to pair with your Thanksgiving feast:

2000 Kalin Cellars Semillon, California

Best white wine from America? Very likely. Semillon is not well known but it certainly deserves to be as it is a perfect partner to most food and ages into a thing of beauty.

2013 Bellus Scopello Frappato, Italy

Super fun alternative to pinot noir, Frappato is native to Sicily and is all about red fruits and fun. It’s also relatively unencumbered by tannin and oak which makes it a perfect table mate.

2012 RPM Wines Gamay Noir, California

Remember all of that Beaujolais that America used to drink at Thanksgiving?  It was for good reason as the grape, Gamay, is bright, crunchy and perfect with Turkey. This Gamay from California is a very serious step up in quality and focus while remaining everything great Gamay should be, delicious.

2013 Copain Tous Ensemble Pinot, California

You gotta have pinot noir, you just gotta and Wells Guthrie at Copain makes some of my very favorites including this super easy, extremely yummy version.  A few years back Wells made a big pivot in his winemaking and his style now prizes balance and grace which, whether you know it or not, is a style that will make it impossible for you to have just one glass.

For more straight-talk about wines ranging from Italian cabernet sauvignons to French sauvignon blancs, join Richard for his CreativeLive class, Become A Great Wine Taster, or check out his blog, My Essential Wine.


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Hanna Brooks Olsen

Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.