The Best American Wines for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the ultimate American holiday: food, drinks, football, family. We’ll be stuffing our faces with turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie, and whatever else you enjoy. So let’s enjoy some delicious American wine for our American holiday!

Tons of flavors hit our palates on Thanksgiving–how do we find the perfect wine to match? Well, our best bets are versatile wines that can go with anything. And let’s face it, most of us aren’t seasoned sommeliers or wine snobs, we just want something yummy and crowd-pleasing. So here are a few options. 

Pinot Noir

First up is a classic Thanksgiving wine–the versatile and safe Pinot Noir that’s light enough and will please the red-wine crowd. A few of my favorites include:

Flowers 2021 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. From the website: “A beautiful mix of red and blue fruit on the nose unfolds with distinctive layers of violets, spice notes, and the fresh, haunting quality of an evergreen forest. Hints of blueberries join a burst of cherry on the palate, grounded and brightened in equal measure by fine-grained tannins and deliciously juicy acidity.” 

I was lucky enough to try this pinot at a party with some appetizers and it did not disappoint! The various vintages earned 90-94 points from reviewers, and you can find it for $50 on wine.com

Schug Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Winemaker notes: “This 100% Pinot Noir cuvée reflects the cool and windy microclimate of the Sonoma Coast AVA. The climate and terroir here provide ideal conditions for low yields (equating to more flavor intensity) and longer hangtimes (allowing Pinot Noir grapes to reach maturity while retaining their natural acidity and preserving the bright flavors of red cherries and raspberries). Schug ensures the elegant expression in this Pinot Noir by aging in large neutral oak casks, stainless steel, and older French oak barrels to keep new oak flavors to a minimum.”

I just picked up a bottle of Schug at Costco for under $20, so if you’re planning a Costco run before Thanksgiving, you can add it to your list!

Archery Summit Dundee Hills 2021 Pinot Noir. Winemaker Notes: The 2021 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir touts all the hallmarks of Archery Summit’s storied appellation. It begins with brambleberry, ripe rainier cherry, blackberry blossoms, cocoa powder, and spice on the nose. The palate is just as lively, with fresh, juicy red fruit backed by graceful tannins and acid. Finishing with spiced oak and a mouth-coating minerality, this wine is a case study in the magic of the Dundee Hills. 

This wine earned 94-97 points from the experts and is available for $50 on wine.com

 

 

Viognier: A Fresh, Versatile White

Another versatile wine, Viognier pairs nicely with turkey but also with richer dishes. While it originated in southern France, Viognier is successfully grown and made in California, Oregon, and Washington, among other U.S. regions.  Here are two potential options for your Thanksgiving table:

K Vintners Art Den Hoed Viognier 2022. Winemaker’s Note: “Crushed diamonds set the stage for this dazzling Northern Rhone noble varietal. Exotic comes to mind. Peach, wildflowers, orange blossom, apricot pit. Mouth-filling in the most delightful way.”

Jeb Dunnuck gave it 94 points and said, “A brilliant expression of the variety, the 2022 Viognier Art Den Hoed Vineyard has tight, almost reductive aromatics of tart apricots, bananas, and salted citrus. It’s pure, medium to full-bodied, has a gorgeous texture, and outstanding length. Coming all from a site in the Yakima Valley and aged in equal parts concrete and used barrels, it will have 2-4 years of prime drinking. It’s one of the finest Viognier outside of Condrieu.” 

You can snag a bottle on wine.com for $24. 

Miner Family Paso Robles Viognier 2020. A beautiful Viognier, as noted by experts who gave it 90-91 points: “Very light in the glass, this begins with tight aromas of apple, pear and jasmine on the clean, expressive nose. The palate is tightly wound, with a stony minerality that wraps around the dried apple flavors” and “Peach, pineapple and mango flavors are generous and expressive, showing an appealing note of apple peel that lingers on the finish, with a floral thread.” 

You can find a bottle for about $20. 

 

Dry Riesling: Refreshing and Palate-Cleansing

Riesling often gets a bad rap, but there are some really nice dry Rieslings that complement just about any food. Plus it’s light and palate-cleansing, it can stand up to flavors without overpowering anything. One thing about Riesling is that there’s a wide range; a way to deal with that is check the back label. It will tell you where the wine is on the spectrum of dry to sweet. Here are a few dry Rieslings for Thanksgiving. 

Suhru Dry Riesling. New York has become a big player in the Riesling world, leading with the Finger Lakes and Long Island. Suhru makes a bright, dry Riesling with “wonderful tangerine aromas and zippy aromatics with hints of limoncello abounding from the glass. The tangerine flows onto the palate with some sweet lemon flavors. Hints of white peach are present with a delicate balance of sweetness and acidity defining and balancing the long finish.”

Trefethen Dry Riesling. Winemaker Notes: “Trefethen Dry Riesling shows vibrant aromas of stone fruit and lemon zest are layered with notes of jasmine and wildflowers. Fresh on the palate, flavors of grapefruit, lime and other citrus lead to a clean and bright finish.” Trefethen earned 90-93 points, and you can find it on wine.com for $26. 

Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling. For a budget-friendly option, consider Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling, available for about $11. Winemaker Notes: “Sourced from the finest vineyards in the Columbia Valley, Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling offers delightful, sweet citrus aromas and crisp acidity. With beautiful freshness and bright fruit qualities, this Dry Riesling is ideal for any occasion.”

Gamay for the Red Crowd

The easy drinking and versatile Gamay is another quintessential Thanksgiving wine, though it can be hard to find an American bottle. Gamay traditionally comes from France’s Beaujolais, but there are some lovely bottles to be found in the U.S. Here are some with some beautiful fruit flavor to enjoy with your turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

Evening Land Seven Springs Gamay Noir 2021. Winemaker Notes: “Contrary to the riper, more dark-fruited expression from last year, the 2021 vintage of Gamay is vibrant, high-toned, and incredibly bright. In the glass, the wine’s beautiful purple core fans out to a magenta-hued rim, leading to lifted aromas of black cherry, red fruit, and peony. On the palate, crunchy flavors of cranberry, hard red candies, ample white pepper, rose petal, and hints of dried herbs lead to a brisk and punchy finish. Think of it like Beaujolais meets cool-climate, New World fruit in the best way possible. Serve chilled.”

Evening Land, from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, earned 92 points. Wine Enthusiast described it as having “surprisingly muscular tannins” and “packed with aromas and flavors of dark plums, red cherries, beeswax, pencil shavings and cinnamon spice. Acidity is nice, with a tiny spritz on the tongue.”

Samsara 2022 Nolan Vineyard Gamay. From Wine Enthusiast: “Light colored in the glass, this bottling is earthy and tarry on the nose, offering cranberry as the fruit aroma. The texture is tantalizing, framing the earthy, snappy flavors of wild raspberry and pomegranate.” From Santa Barbara County, this Gamay got 91 points and can be found for $44 on Wine Searcher

Scar of the Sea 2021 Topotero Vineyard Gamay. From Wine Enthusiast: “Quite hazy in the glass, this bottling is sharp on the nose with plum-skin and snappy currant aromas, as loamy soil and cracked pepper scents add nuance. While the mouthfeel is full and broad, the flavors are zippy and spicy, offering smashed plums and fresh, peppery herbs.” Find it on Wine Searcher for $38. 

 

Chardonnay: Safe and Delicious

Chardonnay is always a safe bet even if you might get some side-eye from a wine snob. But seriously, it’s easy to drink, familiar, and pretty flexible. 

Simi California Chardonnay 2021. Another of my Costco staples, it’s a great value for the price (usually under $15) and widely available. Winemaker Notes: “The hue of this wine is pale gold—a color that dramatically sets the stage for what is to come. This wine features flavors of apple, pear, and stone fruits with hints of citrus and tropical notes. Toasted sweet oak, vanilla cream, and baking spice complement a rich, round mouthfeel with balanced acidity and a touch of minerality on the finish.”

Ramey Russian River Chardonnay 2021. If you’re going a little fancier, Ramey Russian River Chardonnay is a great choice. From the winemaker: “Coming from special vineyard sites, Ramey Chardonnay show great depth of flavor, length of finish, aromatic complexity, and a fine balance between richness and delicacy. Typically, the climate is cool and the soil vigor low, producing graceful yet vibrant wines. The perfect dichotomy of fruit and acid exemplifies the Russian River Valley. The crisp mouthfeel is nurtured in cool sites with low vigor soils such as Goldridge Loam.”

This Chardonnay eared 94-95 points from the experts. Find it on wine.com for $50.