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Thanksgiving wine suggestions

(article, Anu Karwa)

p(blue). Editor's note: Anu Karwa wrote the Culinate wine column, titled Swirl, from July 2009 through December 2010.

Over at Swirl’s wine headquarters, we drink a lot of wine during the Thanksgiving weekend. Not just during the meal, but over several days.  

We’ve taken pictures of the numbers of bottles we’ve gone through, and it’s a little embarrassing. But we know that the adults present treat the weekend as a vacation, the grandparents happily monitoring the six children wreaking havoc.  

If Thanksgiving dinner is as much of an excuse to overeat as it is to give thanks, Thanksgiving weekend is a reason to pull out the good bottles each of us wine-loving adults has been saving all year in hopes of impressing the other wine drinkers in the house — secretly hoping our choices are the ones most loved. 

[%image reference-image float=right width=400 caption="It's not easy to choose a wine that goes with all the flavors of Thanksgiving."]

As to the meal itself, choosing wine to go with the wide array of dishes traditionally served on this holiday can be challenging. Yams, turkey, cranberries, mashed potatoes, pies, and whatever greens manage to sneak their way in — with the exception of dry sparkling wine, no one wine will work perfectly with all of these dishes.  

Instead, choose a few food-friendly (that is, dry and not overly tannic, with good acidity) wines that are on the affordable side. Don’t be afraid of trying a bunch of different wines. Think of Thanksgiving as a testing ground for what you want to serve during the December holiday season. Check out the suggestions below: 

Biltmore Estate, Blanc de Blanc Brut Sparkling Wine NV (California): Made in the traditional Champagne method, this delightful sparkling wine can be drunk throughout the entire meal. An excellent value compared to most Champagne. Green apple and lemon flavors shine through. ($25)

Luigi Bosca, Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, 2009 (Argentina): An aromatic nose of honeysuckle and a touch of lemon; it’s fresh-tasting, but without the mouth-puckering acidity that characterizes so many Sauvignon Blancs on the market. ($21)

Veramonte, Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, 2009 (Casablanca Valley, Chile): Another crisp Sauvignon Blanc to try that doesn’t sear your mouth with tartness but instead has nice lemon and sweet grape flavors. I'd call it a “Best Buy.” ($9 to $11 online)

Cantina Terlano, Gewürztraminer, 2009 (Alto Adige, Italy): A delightful, medium-bodied white wine with a spicy finish and enough acidity to keep it fresh-tasting. Marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, anyone? Yes, a near-perfect pairing. And if you’re one of the adventurous ones who buck tradition, this wine is for you and your spicier dishes. ($25)

St. Michael-Eppan Lagrein, 2008 (Alto Adige, Italy): I’m having an Italian (wine) love affair currently, and Lagrein from Alto Adige makes for an irresistible lover. The smooth tannins and blackberry and earthy plum notes are backed by fine acidity. ($16)  

Rocca Sveva Valpolicella Ripasso, 2007 (Italy): The love affair continues with the Valpolicella Ripasso style of wine that has somehow managed to stay under the radar but is loved by foodies. Think tart, dried cherries; it shows just enough earthiness not to be dusty. Very easy to drink throughout the meal. ($21)

Quinta de Roriz, “Prazo de Roriz,” 2008 (Douro, Spain): You could drink this wine into the next day if you didn’t already have a headache. Not overly complex or opulent to take away from dinner, but supported by bright acidity that makes it infinitely drinkable. An excellent value. ($16)

Pali “Riviera” Pinot Noir, 2008 (Sonoma Coast, California): There are nearly zero Pinot Noirs from the U.S. I would recommend under $15, but this slightly heavier-than-normal Pinot gets an enthusiastic thumbs up for just a few dollars more. ($18 online)

King Estate Signature Pinot Gris Vin Glacé, 2007 (Oregon): A perfect way to end the evening. This dessert wine won't leave a cloyingly sweet taste in your mouth due to its refreshing acidity.

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