Thanksgiving ... a time for celebrating food, family, friends -- and wine! No Thanksgiving meal would be complete without an appropriate wine to complement the food we are so grateful to have.
"It's all about matching wines with food," says Jerald O'Kennard of
Tastings.com and the Beverage Testing Institute.
For fans of white wines, O'Kennard recommends Rieslings from New York state. "New York State makes great Rieslings," he says, calling them "very dramatic," with a classic German Riesling profile.
O'Kennard's recommendations include
, which he calls a nice, super-dry recommendation from Finger Lakes, New York, which retails for about $14.95. Tastings.com describes its flavors of tangy apple, pear and citrus.
For more fruit character, he suggests Vintner's Select, Norbud Vineyard's
. Take one whiff of Glenora, and Tastings.com says you'll be overwhelmed with the dry Riesling's scents of grapefruit peel, melon and apple, while flavors of tart green apple, honeydew and grapefruit will tickle your taste buds. Glenora, also from Finger Lakes, retails for about $23.99.
For a selection available nationwide, O'Kennard says
Chateau Ste. Michelle
from the Indian Wells Vineyard in Washington State is a wonderful pick. "It's really a crowd-pleasing kind of style," he says. "It has a little bit of tang and citrus to its finish. It's a really nice wine that cuts through food." Chateau Ste. Michelle, Silver Medal Award winner of the World Wine Championships, retails for about $17.99 a bottle.
Rieslings' slightly spicy flavor pairs well with traditional Thanksgiving dishes, says Chris Engel,
Domaines and Estates area manager for Spec's Fine Wines in Texas. "The turkey will hold up to it because of the spice."
If you prefer chardonnay, Engel says, choose one that has gone through malolactic fermentation. "That creates a heavier chardonnay with more body, which then makes it more buttery and full of flavor to hold up to the dishes served on Thanksgiving."
Engel says to be sure to start your feast with roses, then whites and finally reds. "That's due to the bodies and components of the wines that you're drinking," he says. "You're going to overpower your taste buds if you go the other way around."
For a rose recommendation, Jerald says go with
, a zinfandel rose from California. The taste is dry, "not like a white zinfandel," he says. "It's a dry style like a French rose would be." Jerald says Pedroncelli pairs wonderfully with ham dishes. It is another Silver Medal Award winner of the World Wine Championships, and Tastings.com notes it as a "Best Buy" at only $10 a bottle.
If you're going to go with a rose, Engel says to choose a zinfandel rose, which will hold up against a holiday meal but is lighter than alcohol than a red zinfandel.
As for red zinfandels, O'Kennard chose three from California producers, all of which he says are highly rated by the Beverage Testing Institute. "Zinfandel is the classic American grape," says O'Kennard. "We can call it America's discovery for the wine world." These fruity wines are a bit high in alcohol -- 12% or 15% alcohol by volume in some cases -- but O'Kennard says they go well with candied yams, pumpkin pies and turkey with rich gravies.
red zinfandel from Cienega Valley is one choice, which Tastings.com says has, "a fruity, medium-full body of ripe black and red berries, spice and vanilla, and finishes with a long berry, cinnamon bark and black pepper fade." A gold medal winner of the World Wine Championships, Pietra Santa retails for about $18 a bottle.
O'Kennard also recommends
Old Vine's Renwood
from Amador County, Calif., which retails for about $16.95. A silver-medal winner of the World Wine Championships Award, Tastings.com notes the weighty, full-bodied palate of the wine, with aromas of briar fruit and cocoa.
Knotty Vines Estate's Rodney Strong
is another fine Red Zinfandel for the holiday, according to O'Kennard. This particular selection, from California's Sonoma County, boasts many awards, including the 2007 World Value Wine Challenge's Top 14 Red Wines Under $20 and the Gold Medal from the World Wine Championships. Tastings.com describes its aromas of melted milk chocolate, pistachio and berry pie. A sip of the wine can be equated to "red and dark berries, chocolate and spice flavors. Finishes with a long, tangy berry, pink peppercorn and orange marmalade fade," according to Tastings.com. Rodney Strong retails for about $20.
"A lot of people like to drink zinfandel at Thanksgiving and pair it with turkey because it's a full-bodied wine that goes with a heavier meat dish - which includes turkey," says Engel. "It used to be that people liked pinot noir because it's light and refreshing, but the turkey overpowers the pinot noir. Zinfandels have black cherry and pepper and spice, which also go very well with the side dishes you serve at Thanksgiving."
This Thanksgiving, eat up and enjoy -- but save some room! When making a toast to all that you are grateful for, the wine in your glass just might make your list.
Brittany joined TheStreet.com TV in November 2006 after completing a degree in Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers College. Previously, Brittany interned at the local ABC affiliate in New York City WABC-TV 7 where she helped research and produce On Your Side, a popular consumer advocacy segment.