Category Archives: Wine for Holidays

Thanksgiving 2015 Wine Recommendations

Thanksgiving dinner may be steeped in family and cultural tradition, but one of the things you can switch up to make your dinner even more special is the wine. I am going to make some suggestions that will help make your Thanksgiving even more memorable than it already is.

In this blog I am going to recommend different types of wine so no matter where you live you can ask your local wine expert for specific brand and winery suggestions. I will also share a few of my own favorite Thanksgiving wines.

Old standbys are great, but let’s shake things up a little bit. After all, wine is a journey and an evolutionary process for the palate. We’ll start with white wines and then move on to the reds.

Pinot Blanc
At its best this wine can make a strong statement — it can be complex and spicy with fruit and citrus flavors. Oregon Pinot Blanc is my preference for this wine and it looks stunning in a glass!

Semillon wines are dry yet complex wines with flavor from both pears and figs. These wines also exhibit very mild nuances of honey. When well made this wine is very interesting and will be a fantastic compliment to your Thanksgiving dinner. A Washington State Semillon wine is your best bet.

Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc is a very versatile grape that is crisp and acidic, yet smooth with a fuller body. This wine is slightly spicy and has a hint of honey with slight fruitiness. This can be a very special and excellent wine exhibiting many different styles. Chenin Blanc is an exceptional dinner choice. I recommend Chenin Blanc wines from Washington State.

Viognier is a very dry, delicate wine with floral aromas and apricot overtones. The Viognier wines produced in Walla Walla, Washington are my choice for a perfect Thanksgiving Day wine.

In the spirit of keeping things simple, that’s enough for white wine suggestions. Let’s move on to red wines and rosé recommendations.

Rosé wine is light bodied with faint aroma and flavor of strawberry and raspberry. I recommend a dry rosé from France, Sonoma, or Oregon. These are some of the best food wines and will perfectly compliment your dinner! I particularly love the Rosé Balletto Vineyards and winery, as well as the delicious Rosé of Pinot Noir from Adelsheim Vineyards.

Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir simply must be a consideration. At its best, Pinot Noir will be smooth and full of flavor exhibiting nuances of raspberries, as well as undertones of vegetation and chocolate. I recommend an Oregon Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley as the fruit from this region has a bit more acidity. Acidity in wine is the flavor enhancing component that brings out the flavor in food.

Cabernet Franc
Spicier than its cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc has traditionally been used as blending wine. It is now gaining popularity as its own stand-alone wine type or varietal. Cabernet Franc is a velvety medium- to full-bodied wine with very nice balance. It’s a delicious choice for your dinner.

This is a light-bodied red wine from France that has very little tannin and is low in alcohol content. It is a fruity red wine with berry overtones. Better quality Beaujolais wines will have a little more body and texture and are terrific when married with food.

The Grenache grape is famous for use as a blending grape in both France and Spain. Grenache is full-bodied with berry flavors. It lends itself well to nice full reds or rosés that produce fruity or berry-like flavor. I love the Grenache from Skinner Vineyards in the Sierra Foothills of California.

Whichever wine you choose, both red and white wine benefit from aeration. When red wines are made they have a certain amount of tannin. This is a result of the fruit of the grape being in contact with stems, seeds, and grape skins. Tannin is that dry, tactile sensation you feel in your mouth when you taste the wine. Time combined with oxygen helps to “settle” a wine. I don’t know about you but when I have family and friends over and I open a bottle of wine the time is “now.” This is where an aerator is essential — open, oxygenate, and make a perfect pour.

Aerating white wine allows the wine to warm a bit after being chilled which helps improve the bouquet and enhance the wine’s flavor.

An aerator I recommend and sell on the WineGuyMike website, is the TRIbella aerator. It’s an exceptional aerator and also delivers an impressive triple stream pour.

I hope this list of wine recommendations is helpful to you! Click here to view specific 2015 Thanksgiving wine recommendations and profiles.

May your Thanksgiving be just a little more special with these wine suggestions!

From my table to yours,


It’s Thanksgiving – Celebrate with Affordable Wines

Well it’s that time of year again! There is no better time than Thanksgiving to enjoy wine and an indulgent meal with family and friends. But which wine is best? Especially when you’re searching for affordable wines? Here is some information to help you decide on an excellent wine to complement your holiday meal.

Think of wine as a three part act – fruit, alcohol, and acid.  Some grape varietals are naturally higher in acid than others and when made in a balanced style can complement food in an amazing way.

Acidity is the component of wine that brings out flavor in food.  Steak sauce is a good example – it’s the vinegar in the sauce that highlights and exposes the flavor of a particular cut of beef.

Pinot Gris and Chenin Blanc are examples of great wines to pair with food. They have a great fruit style and naturally elevated acidity.  When it comes to red wines, hold your glass up to the light. If you can see through the wine, it generally will have the right amount of body and texture to accompany your meal.

Now let’s talk on gravy. Is yours heavy, light, brown, or white?

If a gravy is creamy, white, and heavy, you will want a wine that has a little more acid as it will work well with a heavier style sauce – a great example is a Chenin Blanc.

If your gravy is light to medium texture, a wine with a richer fruit profile and balanced acidity will be just right –a un-oaked Chardonnay will likely be very nice.

If your gravy is light or thin, a nice creamy wine such as a blend, Grenache, Chardonnay, and Marsanne, from the Languedoc Roussillon region of France would be perfect.

When it comes to red wines, Pinot Noir, Sicilian Frapato, and lighter bodied Italian red wines are perfect to go with your Thanksgiving meal.

And what about Vegetarian Thanksgiving meals? Vegetarian meals for Thanksgiving are no longer an alternative afterthought, so we need some good wine options here, too. Perfect white wine companions are wines that display nuances of fruit, mineral, and a bit of savory elements. Riesling, dry or a little off dry, Pinot Blanc, or perhaps a Muscadet from the Loire region of France are terrific options.  Once again, light to medium body red wines will also do well with your vegetarian dishes.

Now here’s a common dilemma. What do you do if your guest brings a bottle of red wine that is full-bodied and you realize it may not be a good option to complement your Thanksgiving dinner?  As mentioned earlier, wine is a three part act and here is a fun way to work in different wines during the day.

For example, on Thanksgiving I really like to enjoy three wines: one that I sip on when I’m cooking; one to drink and share with my guests while visiting and waiting for dinner; and another specifically chosen to serve with my dinner.  The “while I’m waiting for dinner” wine may be a very special red wine that is bigger on fruit and alcohol than I would prefer to serve with roast turkey. This wine might be something like a beautiful Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG.  This wine can be heavier than the wine I will actually serve with dinner, so this can be a good option for when to serve a wine brought by a guest that is not necessarily a good fit to accompany the meal itself.

Open the attached PDF file for a list of exceptional, affordable wines for Thanksgiving. Do note that while I normally recommend wines in the $12 – $15 per bottle range, due to the special occasion of Thanksgiving, some of the wines on this list will sell for up to $25. I know you’ll find a wine on this list that is perfect for your holiday gathering!

Please remember how blessed we all are this Thanksgiving to be with our friends and family as our loved ones are by far the most important part of this day. The food and wine – while wonderful – are simply delectable “side dishes” on this very special day.

From my table to yours,