Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude.
Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude. Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude.

The Thanksgiving meal is served at different times of the day.  It’s a blend of friends, extended family, cultures and gratitude. In those recipes certainly come the spices – to go with the sometimes spicy arguments over politics and family!

When selecting a wine for any meal, the first thought might be to pair with the dish – you know, the tired old wive’s tale: red wine with meat and white wine with fish — however the real secret to success is pairing with the spices that are in the dish.

The secret to pairing wines is the spices in the dish.

When choosing wines for this occasion, I like to think the Thanksgiving feast is a narrative performance that develops throughout the meal.

The Overture: sparkle and glitter with a refreshing Prosecco, Cava or sparkling wine from Burgundy or the Loire Valley in France – all priced at between $10-$20 per bottle and perfect with salted nuts, cold shrimp, prosciutto, salumi and olives.

Sides: vegetables, squash and greens become lively when paired with citrusy and herbaceous flavors. Choose a Sauvignon Blanc, a Gavi or Soave from Italy, a Chenin Blanc from the Loire or an un-oaked Chardonnay from Burgundy or California.

The Main Course and trimmings: often including contributions from many cultures and styles featuring sweet, caramelized and spicy blends (savory, bay, rosemary, thyme) that can be a challenge to pairing – I like a fruity, low-tannin red wine such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Dolcetto, Zinfandel, Cru Beaujolais or Beaujolais Noveau for reds. A fragrant white wine from Bordeaux, southern France or a Pinot Gris from Oregon is sure fire to work.

The Finale of the meal: a spicy, gingery, frothy thing that will be enhanced with a nutty, decadent richness such as a Passito, Sauternes, Palo Cortado or Amontillado Sherry or a Port will create a standing ovation with smiles of thankfulness and gratitude.

Herbaceous white and fruity red wines for Thanksgiving


  • Keep in mind that spiciness and fruitiness in wines are great combinations to pair with the variety of sweet and savory flavors.
  • Look for the value-priced wines, as this is a meal in which the wine will take a “character” role in the scene, allowing the meal to take the lead. Look for wines from Southwestern France, Spain, Italy and Chile.
  • Beaujolais Noveau 2015 arrivals just hit our marketplace last week. This is an inexpensive and quite perfect wine that will pair with all of the sweet and savory dishes on the menu. It’s a fresh wine just out of the fermenter, brimming with aromas of tropical fruit, cranberry, maraschino cherry – fruity, not sugary sweet.
  • An unexpected and festive idea are large format bottles of wine.  A magnum (1.5 litres) equals 2 regular bottles of wine and looks bountiful and beautiful on the table.  Wines in this size bottle from Italy and southern France are often in your favorite wine shop and very well priced between $25-$50.  Recommendation: Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo at about $20 for the Magnum. Another tip: Costco has some amazing deals on large format bottles this time of year.
  • Have some non-alcohol beverages, such as sparkling fruit drinks, available for children and those who would like an alternative.
  • Tip: For the Thanksgiving meal, serve red wines just slightly chilled – about five to six minutes in the refrigerator just before opening. This bit of chilling causes the fruit in the wine to taste brighter and is easier on the palate with a robust meal. For Beaujolais Noveau, go ahead and chill as you would a white wine. Find the value wines we’ve talked about here at your local wine shop, such as:

Du Vin Wine & Spirits, West Hollywood or a market that takes pride in its wine department.  This is a time to be thankful to have an educated wine purveyor be your guide. They get up in the morning just to be there for us…I’m just sayin’…

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