Picking a wine for Thanksgiving can be a daunting task because the myriad of flavors found on the typical holiday table can make a pairing difficult.
As red wines grow in popularity, we have discovered that more people are serving red wine with Thanksgiving’s complex meal.
When our wine-tasting group compared five white and five red wines with a meal of turkey, dressing, gravy and cranberry sauce, our experts opined that the reds outperformed the whites.
Still, for those who prefer a white wine, we recommend picking a fruity, floral wine that almost tastes sweet to compete with all those flavors from turkey to sweet potatoes to cranberry sauce.
Gewurztraminer is often called the “turkey wine” because it goes so well with this meal. Another popular choice is a Riesling, which like gewurztraminer, can be dry yet feel fruity sweet.
Here are the results:
2006 Covey Run gewurztraminer. $8.99. We discovered a delightful aroma of cooked cling peaches, white pepper and floral notes. In the mouth, the fruit and acids were well balanced, with a hint of oil. The finish was clean. This wine was our favorite with the food. The wine withstood competing tastes and was not as sweet as the others.
2006 Columbia Winery Cellarmaster’s Riesling. $13.99. We found scents of caramelized peaches in light syrup with mandarin oranges, apricots and lychee nuts. This wine was slightly effervescent on the tongue, with apricot flavors and a clean finish. Ranking second in our tasting, its fruit and perfume “rocked” with the multi-flavored meal, our tasters agreed.
2006 Hayman & Hill Interchange. $14.99. White peaches, white pepper, spice, citrus rind and minerals filled the aroma. Good acids made you want another sip-mouth watering. Made from chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, muscat, malvasia bianca, semillon and gewurztraminer, it was too astringent for some tasters with the food, with the wine losing its fruit.
2005 Vinum Cellars CNW chenin blanc. $11.99. This wine has a bouquet of limes, lemons, sour apples and a soapy scent. Zesty, then dry in the mouth – bone dry – it had hints of apple peel. The food made the taste watery and slightly bitter.
2006 Hook and Ladder gewurztraminer. $13.99. Lemon curd, canned Mandarin oranges and lychees filled the nose. The wine had a flat palate with lemon flavors. Sweetness of the fruit was out of balance with acidity. It was not a great match with the food. The wine was too tart with too much alcohol.
2006 Aquinas Napa Valley pinot noir. $10.99. We found aromas of sweet red fruit, marmalade and bacon fat. On the palate, we found red berries with smoky bacon notes and nice tannins. Tied for first in our tasting, the Aquinas had a mouthwatering taste that cleansed the tongue after each bite. A good match with the food.
2004 Bridlewood Central Coast syrah. $13.99. Dark, baked cherries dominated the nose, with musky notes. We found black pepper on the attack, then cherry fruit on the finish. This wine tied for first in our tasting. The food made the wine softer, more subtle. The food improved the wine but not vice versa.
2006 Hillinger Small Hill Red. $16.99. The bouquet suggested raspberries, cranberries, cherries, green wood and tea leaves. In the mouth, we found flavors of coffee, cranberries and cherries with a nice texture. The food overpowered the wine.
2006 Mark West California pinot noir. $13.99. We smelled scents of cherries, cherry stems, gum and oil, followed by strawberry tastes with tea leaves and mouthwatering acidity. The food brought out bitterness in the wine.
2005 DeLoach pinot noir. $13.99. This aroma had darker fruits with cranberries and over-ripe raspberries. In the mouth, we tasted root-earth flavors plus ginseng. The wine was a bit disjointed in the mouth. The food made the wine more green and earthy tasting.
Also on the wine shelves
Non-vintage champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee. $56. Aromas of green apples, pears and toast. Rich and round in the mouth, the wine tasted older and luscious.
2003 Grgich Hills Napa merlot. $38. Aromas of cherries, cooked plums and blackberries plus spice and sweet cedar. The wine had a soft-velvety texture with plenty of black fruit that had a very long finish for a merlot.
2004 Joseph Faiveley Bourgogne Rouge. $17. This bright and fresh French pinot noir is ready to drink now, with bright cherries and mild tannins. Rich, ripe fruit on the finish.
2002 Trinchero Napa Reserve Lewelling cabernet sauvignon. $50. Complex, intense aromas of black currants, dark fruit and dried herbs. Lush and elegant in the mouth, with dark fruit and a hint of chocolate, followed by a long finish.
2005 Mia’s Playground chardonnay. $16. Aromas of Red Delicious apples, herbs and kitchen spices. On the palate, tropical fruit, apples and oak, with lemon on the finish.
2000 J. Schram. $90. This California sparkling was made from 80 percent chardonnay and 20 percent pinot noir. Aromas of apple peel, pineapples and ripe melon. These flavors followed in the mouth, along with bright citrus fruit. The texture was remarkably creamy, yet crisp on the finish.
2003 Jordan Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon. $49.99. Blended with merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot, this wine had an intense aroma of dark fruit. It was rich and chewy in the mouth, with a soft finish.
2005 Buena Vista Ramal Vineyard chardonnay. $32. Aromas of apples, ripe pears, lemon rinds, macadamia nuts, vanilla beans and minerals. Rich and round in the mouth, it would go well with seared scallops.
2005 Chateau Souverain Alexander Valley merlot. $19. Aromas of blueberries, plums and cassis. Lively fruit in the mouth, with a long, lush finish with a hint of spice.
2005 Olivier Leflaive Chablis Les Deux Rives. $20. A delightful French chardonnay for this price, with green apples, wet stone and chalk flavors, followed by a crisp finish.
2006 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre. $24.50. Clean-smelling bouquet of citrus fruit and herbs. Dry, sophisticated and well balanced in the mouth, with lime peel on the finish.
Frank Sutherland’s and his daughter Kate Sutherland’s wine-tasting group consists of representatives from the five wine distributors in Nashville, Tenn., a wine collector, a sommelier and food columnist Thayer Wine.
> Any beer, wine or spirit available in Arizona, but not on the shelves at your liquor or grocery store, can be special ordered. See store for details.
MORE FOR THANKSGIVING
For more tips and recipes for Thanksgiving, go to our online Thanksgiving Guide.
By Frank Sutherland, Kate Sutherland