Vine Lore * – Choosing a wine for your Thanksgiving dinner can be tricky. The many flavors, turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie make pairing this meal with the perfect wine seem almost impossible. Local experts in the wine biz, Vine Lore, provided us with the following handy guide to picking the right libation for the table, plus a couple of their favorite picks too.
Knowing a few basic principles will make choosing your wine a cinch.
* Choose a high-acid low-tannin wine (e.g. Pinot Noir)
* Stay away from super-dry wine
* White wines with a little residual sugar go well with the fruit, sugar and salt in the typical Thanksgiving meal (Riesling, Gruner)
* A wine with a nice amount of acidity and brightness will cleanse the palate between each bite (bubbles)
* While a buttery-oaky Chardonnay is a nice wine and goes well with Turkey alone…it is not the best choice for Thanksgiving. The herbs, savory gravy, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes will make this wine seem heavy
Below is a list of wines easily found in Utah Wine & Liquor stores. We have chosen wines from America to keep with the tradition of the day. Don’t forget you can track the DABC inventory online too.
Sparkling wine is a top choice for Thanksgiving, it is both celebratory and a nice palate cleanser. Each bite will be enhanced by every merry sip of bubbles.
Our American pick for a sparkling wine comes from New Mexico and is made in the Champagne Method. The Gruet family moved from France 25 years ago and found that the high-altitude and arid conditions of Albuquerque were ideal for growing grapes. Martha Stewart has a short video about Gruet as part of her series “Made in America” here:
“The blanc de noirs received one of my highest ratings. Even the non-vintage Brut was excellent… this is a winery that merits attention…” – Robert Parker
“If there is a better sparkling wine made in America or anywhere for that matter that delivers this kind of quality at that low a price. I haven’t tasted it.” – Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator
Gruet Brut NV
DABC Code: 905326
Best Buy ~ Wine Spectator
“Focused and richly styled, with spicy tropical fruit aromas and appealing green apple.”
Gruet Rosé NV
DABC Code: 908951
Best Buy ~ Wine Spectator
“Lovely, bright floral bouquet with hints of strawberry, raspberry and cherry.”
Pinot Noir is the quintessential go to wine for Thanksgiving. It is bright, fruity and low in tannin. It is not too much of this or too much of that, it’s just right and melds nicely with the typical Thanksgiving dinner. The Pinot Noir grape is thought to produce some of the finest wines in the world. Its tightly packed clusters make these grapes susceptible to disease and one of the more difficult varietals to grow. It thrives in cool climates.
Garnet Vineyards produces cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from estate vineyards in the acclaimed coastal regions of Carneros, Monterey and Sonoma Coast. They are a small group of family and friends that make sure every Garnet wine is firmly rooted in the cool-climate estate vineyards they own and farm.
Garnet Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012
Price: $12.99 ~ DABC : 470200
92 Points ~ #11 Best Buy of 2014
Garnet Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012
Price: $18.99 ~ DABC Code: 504200
Adelsheim Vineyards are one of Oregon’s founding wineries. On a beautiful June day in 1971 David and Ginny Adelshiem stood above an open field, looking out at Oregon’s north Willamette Valley. The field, rich with clay-loam soil, had a gentle southern exposure and was sheltered by the Chehalem Mountains. Purchasing their first 15 acres that day began their dream of growing some of the finest grapes in the Willamette Valley. Today the Adelsheim Vineyard estate has grown to 229 acres.
Adelsheim Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012
Price: $27.99 ~ DABC Code: 978987
True to their “house style”, this wine is elegantly textured with seamlessly integrated, silky polished tannins.
Willamette Valley Vineyards mission is in growing cool-climate varietals to create classic, elegant Oregon wines. Treasuring the environment they use sustainable practices in growing and vinifying their wine grapes. Stylistic emphasis is on true varietal fruit characters, with attentions to depth, richness of mouth feel and balance.
“This semi-sweet wine, opens with striking citrus aromatics of lemon and lime that flow into green apple and pear. The mouthfeel is lean and racy with bright acidity and finishes with exceptional crispness. This wine is a lovely example of varietal character.”
Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling 2013
DABC Code: 635765
89 Points ~ Best Buy Wine Enthusiast
Zocker Paragon Vineyards is an American winery that produces wines made exclusively from the white varietals of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling. The grapes are grown on the Niven family’s famed Paragon Vineyard in the Edna Valley on the Central Coast of California. The wines are made by veteran French winemaker Christian Roguenant, whose remarkable career has led him to make wine on five continents.
“Rich and round but with great acid structure, this wine is steely and has good minerality. It has a bit of an earthy characteristic, a note of white pepper, and flavors of ripe melon and fruit cocktail”.
Zocker Gruner Veltliner 2013
DABC Code: 918166
2012 ~ 90 Points Wine Enthusiast
Last, but not least, Port. Not from America, but a great accompaniment to pumpkin pie. The complex flavors and creamy richness of pumpkin pie pairs perfectly with the nutty, caramel flavors of Tawny Port. Ports are made by fortifying wine to an alcohol level of almost 20% by adding a neutral brandy that halts fermentation. The unfermented grape sugar creates a sweet wine. Ruby Ports are aged briefly in barrels before bottling which is why the are dark red in color. Tawny Ports are barrel aged longer which gives them their tawny-caramel color.
Both Dow’s and Graham’s Tawny Ports are exceptional and range in price from $14-$100. Price increases with the age of the Port.
Dow’s Tawny Port
DABC Code: 090198
Graham’s 10 year Tawny Port
DABC Code: 940570
Caffe Niche * – Tired of navigating midnight crowds Thanksgiving night, dazed from tryptophan, knowing you’re going home in the morning to a sink full of dirty dishes? Shoppers can include a special Black Friday brunch Caffe Niche on Friday, November 28 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Selections are a la carte from the newly retooled brunch menu. There are no reservations required — diners can just pop in whenever it suits, and there’s never much of a wait.
Awarded “Salt Lake’s Best Breakfast/Brunch” by Salt Lake magazine, Lappe’s focus is on offering healthier alternatives with amazing flavor. Highlights include his light Niche Breakfast Plate with two local free range eggs, avocado topped with extra virgin olive oil and black sea salt, sautéed spinach, and two slices of toast or dressed tomatoes; his hearty Breakfast Burrito with potatoes, scrambled local free range eggs, local cheese, pico de gallo and choice of pork chili verde or vegetarian red chili with black beans; and the popular Buttermilk Sour Cream Pancakes with wild blueberry sauce (pictured above).
“Our bartender Chris Bradshaw is having a blast with his ice freezer, hand-crafting cubes for his line-up of brunch-focused cocktails. We have such a great new selection…from Bellinis to Bloody Marys to more fun ones like a Harvey Wallbanger,” said Lappé. “Or you can opt for a lighter Campari Shandy or one of our newer drinks, a Sloe Screw (orange juice, Taaka vodka and sloe gin). They all pair very well with our brunch menu.” Wine selections are also available at brunch.
779 E Broadway, Salt Lake City, UT 84102
* Gastronomic SLC is a proud local partner of Vine Lore and Caffe Niche.
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.
I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. I ate all the pies.