Thanksgiving is the most unique meal of the year for most Americans.
It’s usually the biggest dinner party, with dishes cooked maybe once a year, often by many different people. It could also be the only day in the year that all the different family and friend groups blend together.
It’s no wonder we spend a lot of time thinking about how to pull it off. I created our annual Thanksgiving wine tasting a week ago. It highlighted the kind of nimble and energetic wines that would go well with this unusual meal.
I wanted to continue that conversation by suggesting another dozen bottles, six whites plus six reds. These would be great for the holiday table. But don’t think of them as merely Thanksgiving wines. They are so versatile and delicious that they are worth every day.
It turns out that the characteristics that make a wine suitable for Thanksgiving are usually great qualities to look for in wines.
Acidity is the key characteristic of a Thanksgiving wine, as I mentioned in the previous piece. It gives the wine energy, lift, and vitality. It’s what makes a wine refreshing and it helps to keep you going through a long day full of heavy foods.
Did I mention that these bottles can be purchased for as low as $25? That’s our upward limit for the Thanksgiving wine tasting because we imagine many will have big gatherings, requiring a lot of wine at reasonable costs. I’ve stuck with those parameters for these recommendations as well.
However, price and acidity are not the only qualities worth looking out for in wine. Wines that are rich, powerful and clearly tannic have their place, as well as wines made from expensive, highly-regarded bottles.
You need to plan carefully for these wines, especially if it is rare, well aged, or has personal significance. These bottles are less versatile then the ones I recommend. They need to be carefully considered about what foods and gatherings will allow them to perform at their best.
We don’t open these types of bottles at Thanksgiving and most other nights. Whether at the hodgepodge feast of the holiday or the improvised nature of a Tuesday night meal, lively, refreshing wines — that’s the acidity — enhance the occasion.
If your Thanksgiving dinner is for six, you can easily pull out the special bottles to match each course. For pastiche buffets that are common at holiday gatherings, you should stick to the more limber wines.
All 12 bottles were found in New York retail stores. Each fits the holiday criteria I’ve outlined. They are lively in acidity, generally 11 to 13.5% alcohol, and not too tannic nor oaky. These are the ingredients in no particular order.
Markus Altenburger Burgenland Joiser Reben Grüner Veltliner 2020 $21
Here’s a grüner veltliner not only with the herbal and citrus aromas and flavors typical of the variety but with a vibrant texture that seems to cleanse the mouth, readying it for the next bite or sip. This wine can be refreshed and rejuvenated, which is exactly what you need after a heavy meal. Markus Altenburger farms biodynamically and does as little in the cellar as he can, a fact that’s clear from the hazy opacity of the wine. Regardless, it’s delicious. (Schatzi Wines, Milan, N.Y.)
Ponce Manchuela Bobal La Casilla 2018 $23
The bobal grape has been neglected over the centuries. Bobal is a grape that is mainly grown in eastern Spain, Manchuela. It has been largely used to make cheap bulk red wines made by cooperatives. Juan Antonio Ponce and other serious producers have recently demonstrated that bobal can be made into great wines. They have access to old grapevines. La Casilla is a bobal-grown limestone wine that is elegant, light, and deeply mineral. It has stony red fruit flavors, but it goes down easily. (T. Edward Wines, New York)
Cruse Wine CompanyNorth Coast Monkey jacket Red Blend 2018 $25
Michael Cruse makes wine in a warehouse off Highway 101 in Sonoma County near Petaluma, Calif. Like Broc Cellars, another start-up with a production facility that belies wine’s pastoral myth, Mr. Cruse seeks out less exalted grapes that are farmed conscientiously and treats them gently in the winery. Monkey Jacket is mostly valdiguié blended with carignan, petite sirah and tannat, among others. It’s bright and lively with focused flavors of earthy red fruits and flowers.
Nanclares y Prieto Rías Baixas Dandelión Albariño 2020 $25
Alberto Nanclares and Silvia Prieto make a series of organically farmed albariños that are among the best examples of the variety. Dandelión is an excellent introduction to their line, pure, fresh, deep, textured and mineral, with floral, herbal and fruit flavors. It’s the sort of wine that always seems to hold a little back, which keeps you moving toward that next sip in an effort to unravel its full dimension. (José Pastor Selections/Llaurador Wines, Fairfax, Calif.)
Anne and Sylvain Lootard Domaine des 13 Lunes Vin de Savoie Apremont 2020 $19
I wrote in July that Savoie whites were as refreshing and refreshing as summer breezes. It turns out that those breezes are quite nice at Thanksgiving. This Apremont, made of biodynamically farmed jacquère grapes, is fresh, lively and low in alcohol at 11 percent, the sort of wine that invites another sip because it feels so good in the mouth. (Wine Traditions Falls Church, Va.
Domaine Cornu Camus Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits 2019 $24
Burgundy is now the world’s most exalted wine region, and you rarely find good bottles in this price range. But here’s a great example, from a little-known producer and an often overlooked terroir. The Hautes-Côtes de Nuits, in the hills to the west of the more famous and prestigious Côtes de Nuits vineyards, was historically a source of inexpensive reds, partly because the grapes were more difficult to ripen there. Climate change has made it easier to ripen grapes and improved the quality of wine. This bottle is The aroma is fruity and earthy but also refreshing and focused. (Petit Pois/Sussex Wine Merchant Moorestown, N.J.
Southold Farm and Cellar Texas High Plains “Don’t Forget to Soar” White Wine Blend 2020 $21
I’ve been following Southold from their years on the North Fork of Long Island through their move to Texas. Regan Meador and Carey Meador are unwavering in their search for original wines that reflect the place they came from and their unique aesthetic. This blend of roussanne and grüner veltliner, grown on the High Plains of Texas, is bright and vibrant, with intense earthy, herbal and citrus flavors that are neither complex nor complicated. It’s a true thirst quencher.
Beurer Württemberg Riesling Trocken 2020 $25
Jochen Beurer is an excellent producer of both whites and reds in the Württemberg region of southwestern Germany. This entry-level wine is dry and savory, almost salty, tangy, and delicious. It’s broader and less fragile than a Mosel riesling yet not at all heavy or overbearing. It’s a terrific wine for Thanksgiving, and if you manage to find Beurer’s trollinger, a light red, it will be, too. (Vom Boden, Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Paul Cherrier Sancerre 2019 $25
Wine snobs tend to sneer at Sancerre because it’s so effortlessly popular, but Sancerre and other sauvignon blancs are the sort of crowd-pleasers that can be just right for the Thanksgiving table. Many sauvignon blancs are poor quality. But the best ones, such as this bottle, are excellent: pure, aromatic, resonant and crisp, earthy or mineral. (Avant Garde Wine & Spirits, New York)
Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Granges 2020 $21
Bernard Baudry is one the most reliable and respected Chinon producers. Les Granges, the introductory bottle, is made from young cabernet Franc vines. It’s organically farmed and is intended for early drinking. It’s lively, juicy and earthy, and easy to enjoy. It would go well with dark meats and earthy tuber dishes. The Baudry single-vineyard cuvées, like La Croix Boissée and Les Grézeaux, reward aging and are among the best expressions of Chinon. It would be difficult to find a better choice if you have an intimate Thanksgiving dinner and happen upon a 10- or fifteen-year-old bottle. (Louis/Dressner selections, New York).
The Whole Shebang California Fourteenth Cuvée NV $16
This red blend is an excellent value from Bedrock Wine Company. It makes a wide range unmanipulated wines from old California wineries. The variety of groups includes zinfandel (carignan), syrah (syrah), and petite sirah. Vintages are also mixed, which is a nice tactic. It is a lively, easy-going wine that is both delicious and versatile. Many inexpensive California red wines are overpriced with oak flavorings and other enhancements that mimic the characteristics of higher-end wines. This is not the case. It makes you think about how wonderful these humble wines could taste if other producers allowed them to preserve their authenticity.
Raúl Pérez Bierzo Ultreia Saint Jacques 2018 $23
It’s always interesting to compare mencías grown in Bierzo in western Spain, with those grown in Ribeira Sacra, a little farther west in Galicia. It’s especially interesting when they are made by Raúl Pérez, a master of mencía who makes wine in both places. Ultreia Saint Jacques is his entry-level Bierzo. Grown mostly on clay soils, it’s fruitier and a little heavier than the more racy Ribeira Sacras, grown on slate soils. It’s juicy, spicy and balanced, with a touch of creaminess. (Skurnik Wines, New York)
Source: NY Times