Presenting the “break up edition” in which you ditch your standbys for something new.
If you’re among the many who are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, it’s likely your holiday table is a mix of dishes, people and personalities. So, why not serve up a mix of wines, too?
“Thanksgiving is the time to play,” says sommelier Carrie Lyn Strong, founder of Strong Wine Consulting in the Pennsylvania/New York/New Jersey area. “I buy a case of wine and get more creative than the everyday wine selections, so it’s a family gathering and a wine tasting all in one!”
It might be a gamble to go out on a limb with experimental varieties regions, but you can’t win if you don’t play. Here’s a mixed case of reds, whites and rosé (because, yes, it is still rosé season, people!) that will find a happy place at your table.
Lagar da Condesa Albarino 2021, Rias Baixas. This value-priced white from northeastern Spain punches above its weight. Round and creamy, full-bodied expression. Glycerol, herbal and savory, then gives over to apple and lime fruits. Break up with Chardonnay for this one.
Russiz Superiore Pinot Grigio 2022, Collio DOC. Forget everything you think you know about PG and grab a bottle of this Pinot with personality. From the venerated Felluga family in northeast Italy, this full-bodied white (actually has a pink tinge to it) is a winner winner with turkey dinner. Savory herbs and deep yellow fruits are accompanied by a nice acid streak. Slightly bitter nut skin pleasantly lingers on the long finish. Surprising and satisfying.
Susana Balbo “Signature” Brioso White Blend 2022, Valle de Uco, Mendoza. A fuller-bodied and rich blend from a pioneer in Mendoza known for her Torrontes. This has a Sauvignon Blanc vibe, with a lime-y nose and white florals, but is creamier than other Southern Hemisphere versions. Tropical fruited, fresh unripe pineapple, green apple and melon. Move over, Sauvy-B.
Tank Garage Winery “Flowershop White” 2021, El Dorado County. This white blend is made from Rhone varieties (44% Roussanne, 24% Marsanne, 14% Viognier and then 11% Chardonnay and 7% Grenache Blanc). It’s full, rich and round with tart yellow plums and cherries and apples. Fleshy but not flabby. Break up with Viognier and take this out instead: groovy psychedelic label will give you good vibes, too.
Brendel “Chorus Cuvee,” 2021, Napa. Here’s a fun wine you can date instead of your usual Beaujolais. This is a light and happy field blend that’s very floral and bursting with red fruits such as raspberry and cherry. The wine-drinking millennials will like it and so will Auntie, and everyone in between.
Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco del Fondatone, Sorbara DOC, Emilia-Romagna. You know it’s a party when the Lambrusco comes out. But this is a seriously delicious food wine—slightly fizzy with crunchy red fruits such as pomegranate, currant and cranberry. Dry fermented. Buh-bye trendy pét-nat, because this venerated producer proves old school is cool.
Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir “Goldrock Estate” 2019, Sonoma. Ripe red-black fruits are in play along with earthy notes you’d expect from a Pinot and more acidity than you’d anticipate. This moves from primary to secondary fruit, ending on a creamy caramel-Medjool date note. There’s some dark chocolate here with a little menthol. I love Burgundian Pinots, but also will not turn my back on an exciting, modern interpretation from a well-regarded flying winemaker.
Pedernales Cellars “Valhalla” 2019, Texas High Plains. So named for the home of Viking dods, this Sangiovese-driven (58%) blend also includes Dolcetto, Touriga Nacional and Petit Sirah. On the nose, stewed strawberry and garden vegetables, then opens up onto the palate as a smooth and sensory flavor experience—soy, umami and caramel taking the leads. Pleasurable and sleek, if you don’t have this with the turkey, save it for roast duck.
ROSES [Sorry, Provence, but you were a summer fling.]
Chateau d’Aqueria Tavel Rosé 2022, Cru des Cotes du Rhone. Produced by a venerated name in the Rhône and made from the traditional grapes—Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and some Clairette—this is a shimmery, bright cranberry-colored rosé hitting all the high notes with cranberry and pomegranate fruit. More structured than your summer quaffs, this is flavorful and has a bit of a bitter herbal finish that lends interest in your mouth and the earthier root-vegetable dishes.
Chene Bleu Le Rosé 2022, Vaucluse IGP. Also hailing from the Rhône, still a structured style, but on the lighter side, is this Grenache Noir-driven (88%) blend from 60+ year-old vines and younger vines of Mouvedere and Grenache Blanc, on site of a medieval former monastery. Well, that’s a lot of history in the glass! This is a medium- to full-bodied rosé that appears lighter pink in the glass, but packs power on the palate. Red raspberry, plump late-summer strawberries and currants jump out of the glass, with a savory garden note. A mineral backbone keeps it all in check.
Conde Valdemar Rosado 2022, Rioja. A medium-bodied, structured rosé with tropical tones of grapefruit, melon and guava. Easy drinking and food friendly, not only with the roasted bird, but with sweeter sides such as sweet potato, candied cranberry sauce.
Ramon Bilbao Lalomba Finca Lalinda 2021, Rioja. More of an orange-hued wine, this full-bodied Garnacha-driven wine favors a savory profile over fruit with an herbal profile. This earthy austerity makes it friendly with most dishes on the holiday table, but particularly roasted vegetables.