Winning Wines for Thanksgiving

by Robin Barr Sussman on November 9, 2022 in Food+Drink,

You have your grandma’s cornbread stuffing recipe, your mom’s roasted turkey and gravy lined up, and your uncle’s smoked ham coming for the big holiday feast. But what about the perfect wine – one that will please everyone including your picky aunt?

Here is our tip sheet for delighting your entire group!

 Light white wines and bubbles go with appetizers, cheeses, salads

J Vineyards Cuvee 20 brut

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It’s a special occasion, so greet your guests with a festive glass of bubbly and a savory bite. The Russian River Valley/Sonoma County sparkler with a crisp allure of crushed hazelnut, gingersnap and dried cranberry is a natural for the all-American feast ($38).

Montinore Estate Washington state ’20 pinot gris

Photo Cheryl Juettno

Refreshingly brisk but fruit-forward with ripe flavors, no wonder this pinot gris is an award-winner. The mid-palate is plush with flavors of lemon, tart green apple and citrus pith, while a cleansing acidity offers a quenching finish. For red, you can’t go wrong with its opulent pinot noir ($20).

Markham Oak Knoll District Napa Valley ’18 sauvignon blanc

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Expect a contrast of sleek and rich that exhilarates the palate with mouthwatering flavors of lemon curd and kaffir lime ($28). The venerable winery is renowned for its portfolio of exceptional merlot and other varietals.

Full bodied whites marry well with roasted turkey, buttery cornbread stuffing, salmon, roasted veggies, pasta

Raeburn Russian River Valley chardonnay ‘20

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This elegant chardonnay shows an array of complex fruit ranging from pear and Gravenstein apple to nectarine, complemented with toasted oak, vanilla, and hints of crème brûlée ($19.99). Raeburn also produces an excellent pinot noir and rosé.

Davis Estates ’20 First Responders ‘20 chardonnay

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Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and Davis Estates is giving back with a luscious chardonnay to honor the heroic firefighters who put their lives on the line during the devastating 2020 Glass Fire in Napa Valley. Fifty percent of proceeds are donated to local first responders ($50).

Perdernales Cellars Texas  ’21 viognier Reserve

Dry yet full bodied and opulent, this Texas viognier has notes of ripe pear, kiwi and Golden Delicious apple ($42).

Lighter reds and some pinks pair with pork, game birds, fruit relishes, seafood

RedThumb Natural Wines ’19 rosé

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This new brand is perfect for guests who stick to natural wines. What’s not to love about zero added chemicals or sugar, anyway? Fruity and crisp with a kiss of spice, the rosé is made with grenache grapes from Navarra, Spain ($18.99). It’s the life of the party!

Siduri ’20 Anderson Valley pinot noir

Velvety pinot noir is the favorite varietal for the Thanksgiving meal because it goes with everything. Siduri produces a range of site-specific styles for every palate using grapes from the West Coast. Its 2020 Anderson Valley pinot noir flaunts fall notes of spice, ginger and black current ($40).

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais

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With its official release from France Nov. 17, Beaujolais Noveau is a time honored tradition at the holiday table. Its fruity and frivolous quality is right on if you want to lighten things up with lower alcohol. Look for Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais at national retailers including Whole Foods, Total Wine, Costco and Trader Joe’s, and online at

Balletto ’21 rosé of pinot noir 

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Crafted from estate-grown pinot noir on sustainable vineyards in the Russian River Valley, Calif., this rosé is delicate and acidic, making for a refreshing daytime sipper ($25). Another delicious option is Teresa’s Unoaked Chardonnay ($25) – crisp and vibrant without heavy oak influence.

Castiglioni Chianti ‘19 DOCG

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Pairing superbly with full-flavored holiday dishes such as roasted bird and beef, here is your crowd pleaser. Crafted with sangiovese and small quantities of merlot, the bouquet is rich with fresh aromas and flavor notes of cherry, blackberry and wild strawberry ($15).  

Medium to robust reds pair with beef tenderloin, venison, mushroom dishes, cranberry

Domaine Serene ’18 Evanstad Reserve pinot noir Oregon

When it must be over the top for your group, uncork a magnum of award-winning Domaine Serene’s beautifully concentrated pinot noir with fragrances of dried cherry and dark chocolate, ripples of composed tannins and notes of cherry tobacco and allspice ($200/1.5 liter).

Dutcher Crossing ’17 Proprietor’s Reserve zinfandel

This boutique Dry Creek Valley winery produces an astounding eight styles of well-crafted zinfandel and other varietals worth exploring, but the most affordable zin in the portfolio is the vibrant Proprietor’s Reserve ($34).

Trapiche Medalla ’19 malbec

For those who prefer a more robust concentrated red with a nod to Old World style, this malbec from Argentina is smooth, affordable, and super easy to locate in a pinch ($20).

Biltmore Antler Hill ’18 zinfandel Sonoma County

America’s largest home, the estate of George and Edith Vanderbilt more than a century ago, sports a winery producing a huge portfolio of wine made from grapes grown in the best areas of the U.S. Its award-winning Antler Hill Rockpile zinfandel Sonoma County is graceful but intense with dark fruit and spice characteristics, complementing the Thanksgiving feast of flavors.

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Robin Barr Sussman ( is a freelance culinary, wine and travel writer who studied at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, Calif. As a chef for Sonoma County wineries, her specialty was food and wine pairing. Sussman is a columnist for Houston CityBook Magazine, Prime Living and Houston House & Home. Her work also appears in Texas Monthly, Fodor’s and Private Clubs Magazine.