Sommelier Andrew Stover of OYA, SEI and SAX restaurants, and new venture Vino50, shares his expert advice on choosing wines for your holiday table.
Gobble, gobble! Choosing wine for Thanksgiving means trying to pair a wide variety of flavors. Salty, sweet, creamy, herby…it’s a real Smörgåsbord of flavors.
I usually recommend going with your personal preference, but know that this is not the time for buttery, creamy California Chardonnay or big and rich Cabernet Sauvignons.
Typically, brut sparkling wine is the best overall pairing for a wide variety of flavors but if bubbly isn’t your gig, the following wines tend to pair best with the flavors found on the Thanksgiving table.
- Riesling with a hint of sweetness: look for Washington State, New York or Michigan wines.
- Gewurztraminer: look for Oregon, Washington or New York wines.
- Albarino: look for Virginia or California wines.
- Viognier: Virginia makes some of the best Viognier in America!
- Pinot Noir: look for Oregon and California wines.
- Zinfandel: look for California wines.
- Syrah: look for Washington, Idaho and Arizona wines.
- Rosé: look for drier and less fruitier styles.
Here are some fun and interesting American wine picks that will be right at home on the Thanksgiving table:
- Tedeschi Vineyards “Hula O Maui” Sparkling Pineapple, Maui, Hawaii ($24.99). An amazing dry, Champagne-like pineapple sparkling wine that works especially well with ham laced with pineapple as well as fruitier dishes on the Thanksgiving table. I personally love this bubbly with prosciutto!
- Breaux Vineyards Viognier, Loudoun County, Virginia ($23.99). An alternative to Chardonnay with notes of white flower, honeysuckle and tropical fruit, plus passion fruit and mango on the finish, smooth and luscious. The fruity notes in the wine pair well with fruitier flavors found in Thanksgiving dishes.
- Casa Larga ‘Vineyard Hill’ Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York ($9.99). If you like your Riesling a little on the sweeter side, this one is for you-fresh and floral, notes of rose petal, lime zest, white peach and grapefruit, luscious texture with a semi-sweet finish. Riesling works well with sweet potatoes, ham, turkey and anything with a slightly sweet edge.
- Amity Vineyards Organic/Sulfite Free Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($19.99). Pinot Noir is often a pretty versatile wine and pairs nicely with dark meat Turkey with herb stuffing but also works with ham, lamb or beef. Bright cherry notes with slight earth undertones. Very juicy and easy to drink. Plus this wine is not only organic but sulfite free for those that are sensitive to sulphur.
- Sawtooth Syrah, Snake River Valley, Idaho ($15.99). Rich and brooding aromas of chocolate, cedar, dark plums, hint of earth. An explosion of black cherry and chocolate in the mouth, rich and velvety finish. The peppery notes in the wine pair well with herb stuffing and while not an overly heavy wine, Syrah will please any big Cabernet lover.
You can find these wines at Whole Foods in Arlington, Cleveland Park Wines, Zola Wine & Kitchen, The Wine Cabinet, Fenwick Market, and even at Little Washington Winery Tasting Roomin Washington, VA. I consider Thanksgiving a truly American holiday and therefore only American wines should find a seat at the dinner table.
A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Andrew Stover is known for his promotion of local and regional wines in his restaurant wine programs. Stover’s work has been recognized with the coveted Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and consecutive nominations for Wine and Beverage Program of the Year from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.
Stover travels in his quest to find the perfect U.S. vintages. Vino50 is both a wine brand and wholesale portfolio that celebrates American winemaking at its best, with a focus on eclectic and unknown American wine regions.