Thanksgiving has always been, and always will be, a food-centric holiday. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes; they are the stars of the show. But like every great lead actor needs an ensemble, production staff, audience, and more to truly shine, so too do those Thanksgiving  centerpieces.

The right wine, at the right time, can lift spirits, elevate dishes, and ease full bellies like no other drink. At every point of the Thanksgiving meal you can find the right wine to pair with what you are eating. Selecting the right wines, is a different challenge altogether, though. Lucky for you, Blue Lifestyle has a huge catalogue of wines reviewed and rated for your choosing pleasure.

Below are some recommended wines for pairing with your Thanksgiving meal, as well as before and after the main event, pulled straight off our review pages. I have aimed for quality and variety over quantity, while keeping price in mind.


Starters

This is the part of the meal where everyone is still arriving, mingling, watching football, or patiently awaiting the turkey to come out of the oven. Popular food choices for this part of the day include cheese and crackers, charcuterie, nachos and all-other-manners of chips and dip, as well as vegetable platters and pickles. The variety of foods can make choosing a wine both fun and full of indecision. You don’t want to assault everyone’s palate yet, so siding with some light options to open up the appetite is probably the best way to go. This is the part of the day when variety is your friend. Although we’re only recommending two different wines, think of the starter portion as a wide open field to experiment with.

Red

A Beaujolais might be your best bet for red wines with starter food. Earthy, light, and deliciously French to pronounce, you will impress any person not up to date on their wine geography, and satisfy any wino who thinks they know better. Best of all, most Beaujolais are extremely affordable, meaning you can open more than a couple to really get the holiday going.

The Blue Lifestyle recommendation:

2019 Louis Jadot Beaujolais, France – $13

Rich ruby color, spiced cherry nose, smooth and juicy with ripe cherry fruit and tangy acidity; fresh, balanced and totally charming. 91 Points.

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White

You are looking for a lot of the same characteristics in a white wine to pair with starters, as with a red wine; something light, something that pairs well with multiple options, that makes you feel alive and bubbly. Of course, having a glass of champagne, prosecco, cava or any other sparkling wine upon arrival should be standard. But as for a white wine that meets the starter requirements, an excellent Chardonnay can do wonders, especially when paired with popular soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert. And yes, you might get a couple of looks saying: Chardonnay, really? Again?…. but if it tastes good, all will be forgiven. And there are plenty of great chardonnays to choose from.

The Blue Lifestyle recommendation:

2019 Meiomi Chardonnay Monterey, Sonoma, Santa Barbara – $21

Soft, toasted nose, silky, fresh and juicy; a nice balance between smooth fruit and vanilla toasty oak, refined and elegant, long and charming. 92 points.

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The Meal

The meal is without a doubt the most important part of Thanksgiving. It is the star of the show, the reason people show up, put up, and shut up about whatever political inclinations, religious conversions, or financial discrepancies they may have, all for a big turkey and and a ladle of gravy. And that’s a beautiful thing, so the wine you choose needs to match that aura. It needs to stand up and say: I belong here, too! And it needs to say so without forgetting that it isn’t the star of the show. It’s a supporting role. There really is a lot of choice, but unlike the starter portion of the meal, you want to commit to a single bottle once the meal has started. One red and one white to rule them all.

Red

Whatever red wine you pair with the main meal has to have some body. It needs to be bold to stand in front of the the barrage of food; a bit of acidity to cut through everything. The wine has to surprise and refresh, it needs to reinvigorate the palate, after people have been knee-deep in starters, cocktails and other drinks. Still, you don’t want the wine to add to the tidal wave, to overwhelm. So here’s a curveball. Cabernet Franc, all the full-bodied excitement of Cabernet Sauvignon, but a bit lighter and a good match for the slight gaminess of turkey. Look for one from the Loire Valley or as we recommend, Sonoma County.

The Blue Lifestyle recommendation:

2016 Thumbprint Cellars Cabernet Franc Ramzzotti Alexander Valley – $65

Bright garnet color, smooth plum nose, silky and fresh with juicy plum and berry fruit, soft oak notes, elegant and long. 96 points.

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White

Some people don’t want red wine with their Thanksgiving meal, and that’s fine… disappointing, but fine. And being the good host you are, you wouldn’t disappoint them anyways. To be honest, a nice, dry white wine would do well to balance the richness in dishes like sweet potatoes, stuffing, and the like. A Pinot Gris (that’s the French version of Pinot Grigio) hits the mark, bringing ample flavor with a dry character that will keep your palate lively.

The Blue Lifestyle recommendation:

2017 Keeler Estate Vineyard Pinot Gris Barrel Aged Eola-Amity Hills – $24

Juicy and smooth with a definite toasty undertone, lush and tangy, round and balanced, complex, long and lush. Biodynamic. 93 points.

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After Dinner

This final stage of Thanksgiving should not be overlooked. A well chosen nightcap can be the difference between tossing and turning, shifting your bloated belly all night like a marooned whale and sleeping like a log struck by lightning. So why not finish this American holiday with a little help from north of the border. A Canadian Icewine can be the perfect dessert, whether enjoyed on its own or paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and slice of pie. The grapes are picked within hours after the first freeze of the year, having ripened throughout the summer and fall. It’s fitting: the last part of the harvest, for the last part of the harvest holiday.

The Blue Lifestyle recommendation:

2018 Inniskillin Niagara Riesling Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula, Canada – $80

Silky and bright with sweet apricot, pineapple, with a hint of botrytis; stunning, deep and long with finesse and depth. 97 points.

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So there you go, a selection of wines that will keep you going throughout this most unusual of Thanksgivings. Remember to drink and entertain responsibly. And….

Happy Thanksgiving!

By Aldo Moreno