#Brilliant Pairings: Giving Thanks With American Wines

by Robin Barr Sussman on November 19, 2018 in Food+Drink, Drink, Living Texas, Houston,
Thanksgiving cheers credit Kelsey Knight alt cover e1542639493907

A cheat sheet for procrastinators!

Thursday, November 22 is Thanksgiving, an American holiday started in 1621 by the Pilgrims at Plymouth with a feast to celebrate the harvest and to thank the Wampanoag Indians for teaching them how to farm. Most likely, their drink was hard cider, but today’s not-so-rustic-table calls for polished American wines. If you’ve been procrastinating, here’s a Clip & Go wine sheet that will please the entire house and pair with every dish, including the buttery green bean recipe below. Happy Turkey Day wine pairing!

Organic Bonterra Viognier. Courtesy photo

White wines go with turkey, stuffing, root veggies, appetizers and cheeses

Organic Bonterra Viognier, Mendocino County, Ca. 2016: Powerful aromas of fresh cut nectarines and white peaches weave with orange blossom and honeysuckle notes. No worries, it’s not sweet—expect overlaid notes of oak and vanilla. Bonterra’s Chardonnay is also a balanced choice. Buy it: HEB, Spec’s, Total Wine & More, KrogerAbout $11.99

Meiomi Coastal California Rosé: Definitely dry with vibrant acidity. The wine opens up to delicate aromas of orange peel, watermelon and hints of rose petal with a lush mouthfeel and cool minerality on the finish. Pairs with everything if you decide to serve just one wine. Buy it: Spec’s, Total Wines & More, HEB, Kroger. About $15

Meiomi Coastal California Rosé. Courtesy photo

Kenwood Vineyards Pinot Gris, Russian River Valley, Ca. 2016: The Sonoma Series wines are the most affordable in the portfolio and will enhance any meal. The Pinot Gris and Chardonnay pair with cheeses, pastas, salads, light meats and sides. Buy it: HEB, Spec’s, Total Wines & More. About $15

Cartograph Wines Green Ranch Riesling 2017: This small producer located in Healdsburg, Ca., crafts elegant wines that complement holiday meals or any special occasion. The bone-dry Riesling has honey, lemon curd and citrus-blossom aromas with lots of zing on the palate. Buy it: Spec’s, cartographwines.com. About $25

Benziger Family Chardonnay, Sonoma County 2015: Flavors of apple, pear and citrus engage the palate while hints of butter and meringue unfold. Pairs splendidly with roasted turkey, crab cakes and myriad sides. (Benziger also makes a lovely Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.) Buy it: Spec’s. About $13

Light to robust reds go with pork, ham, beef tenderloin, mushroom dishes, cranberry sauce

Ravenswood Zinfandel. Courtesy photo

Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi 2016: Bursting with blueberries, black plums and cocoa, this lush wine pairs with peppered turkey and beef, roasted beet salad and root veggies. If splurging, try the single vineyard Zinfandels. (For lower tier prices, look for Ravenswood Zinfandel.) Buy it: Total Wine & More, Kroger, HEB. About $18

Alexana Winery Dundee Hills Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, OR. 2016: Founded by Houstonian Dr. Madaiah Revana, the small winery crafts about 13 different Pinot Noirs in addition to Revana’s Red blend, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. The Dundee Hills Pinot Noir will wow your guests. Buy it: Spec’s, Houston Wine Merchants, alexanawinery.com. About $45

Photo courtesy Alexana Winery, Dundee Hills, Oregon

Bonterra Organic Vineyards Equinox Red, Ca. 2016: This easy-going red blend offers juicy red and black fruit with intriguing herb, spice and oak notes and a supple mouthfeel. Buy it: HEB, Spec’s, Total Wine & More, Kroger. About $15

Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas, Paso Robles, Ca., 2016: This take on a French Rhone blend features Syrah for smoky peppery notes and Grenache for bright fruit. Terrific with a substantial holiday feast. Also consider the stellar white blends. Buy it: Houston Wine Merchant, Spec’s. About $24

J Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sonoma County 2016: Silky and vibrant with cherry, cranberry, exotic spice and black tea notes. Marries well with assorted cheeses, fruit, turkey, roasted beets and savory stuffing. Buy it: Total Wine & More, Spec’s. About $19

The Brilliant Pairing

Green Beans Almondine from La Table, Houston

La Table Thanksgiving table. Photo courtesy La Table Restaurant, Houston


1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved

2 tablespoon butter

¼ cup sliced almonds

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Yield: 4-6 servings


Cook green beans in salted boiling water until tender, 3 minutes. Drain. Sauté sliced almonds in the butter over medium heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Add a pinch of nutmeg. Stir in the green beans and 1 tablespoon of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until warmed through, about 2 minutes.

Cover photo: Kelsey Knight

Robin Barr Sussman is a freelance culinary and travel writer who studied at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone California. As a chef for Sonoma County wineries, her specialty was food and wine pairing. Sussman’s work appears in Texas Monthly, Fodor’s, and Private Clubs Magazine.