An American Favorite

Thanksgiving itself is an amalgamation of flavors; green beans, pumpkin pie, cranberries, sweet potatoes, dips, cheeses, breads and turkey.  It’s hard to stick with one wine varietal (not that it can’t be done).

In continuing our series on wines best served with Thanksgiving dinner, let’s talk Zinfandel. 

Why serve Zinfandel on T-day? 

Well, first and foremost it is an American varietal and truly fits in well with the traditions of the holiday.  Yes, Zinfandel’s roots do trace back to old Europe but America has really claimed this varietal as its own and produces it with unparalleled passion.  American Zinfandel is hearty, rich, spicy and jammed full of fruit flavors.

Zinfandel is a red wine more intense than say Pinot Noir (another great food-pairing wine), but Zinfandel will have a balancing effect on many of the traditional side dishes served with the Thanksgiving meal.  It is especially good for those of you looking for a wine with deeper flavors and heartier in taste.

And as far as turkey goes, it is a versatile meat, going well with many different types of wine.  But I do feel like Zinfandels are a perfect complement to the bird on Thanksgiving.  They have a round, balancing flavor lot’s of people can enjoy.  Zinfandel’s very berry nuances help mask some of the acidity occasional wine drinkers find slightly off-settling. 

So no matter how experienced or unexperienced your guests are with wine, a good Zinfandel can be enjoyed by many varying palettes.

As I explained in my last Thanksgiving wine post about Riesling, a lot of people have contacted me asking what wine to serve with their meal.  But more importantly an affordable wine to serve a crowd.  And yes there are great wines at affordable prices; you just have to look and ask lots of questions.  Shop somewhere with knowledgeable employees.  And if you are going to order wine over the internet it is often more cost effective to ship several bottles instead of just one, check your online retailer for prices.

So here are a few Zin’s I have found to be great values and all-around crowd pleasers.  Are there better one’s out there?  Of course, but these three offer great taste for exceptional value.

2005 Rosenblum Cellars Snows Lake Vineyard Zinfandel, Lake County, California  $20-35

This is my overall favorite Zinfandel of the three shown here.  The variance in price is due to its current price at Cost Plus for $19.99.  It’s a steal.  With its tempting bouquet of cherry and dried florals and it’s blackberry and earthy flavors, it is an impressive, elegant wine.  Definitely more pricey, but seems to be on sale in lots of places right now, it’s worth seeking out.  Robert Parker rated this wine 91 Points in the Wine Advocate, try to find it, it’s great.

2005 Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California $13-15

A wonderfully balanced wine, full-bodied with lingering clove on the nose, leading into great flavors of cherry, blackberry and plum.  The finish is long and elegant with a touch of ripe tannins dominating.

2006 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California $8-10

It’s the long, warm, summer days in Lodi that really give this wine its flavor.  For the price it’s difficult to find a better value.  This is a spicy, full of berry-flavors kind of wine.  Most noticeable are the cinnamon-clove spice on the nose and the black cherry and blueberry flavors in the mouth with a smooth and almost creamy finish.

All of these wines will work well with the dark meat and are soft enough to complement the white meat as well.  They will taste even better if you pour on the chestnut gravy and take a few bites of stuffing and sweet potatoes.  Enjoy.


One of my many Halloween candle holders, more spiders of course!

Post a Comment


  1. HoneyB 1

    Love your advice on wine AND the candle is awesome! I want one!

  2. Laura 2

    I really appreciate wine suggestions.
    Thank you…
    Maybe you might consider suggesting wines to give as gifts? Say…I was going to buy a case to have on hand of said “gift wine” and I didn’t want to have to live in a refrigerator box because I spent so much money….what would the noble pig suggest…one wonders.

  3. Ohhh. So getting the Gnarly Head. Thanks;)

  4. Ahhh – nothing like a great wine – I bet this is great!

  5. I’m going to look for these wines at my local wine shop. Everything I’ve been reading lately suggests having Pinto Noir with your Thanksgiving dinner. What is your take on that?

  6. Barbie with a T 6

    I was just wondering if Zinfandels come from “old vines” as per the label. I presume that means more mature vines? Or just late summer vines? I like the color especially for the holidays. Deep red wines are my favorites anyway.
    Thanks for the educating tips. Really you are a great source of information for me, and I appreciate your help in wine selections.

  7. I love Zinfindel. To me, it is so under rated and I am glad that you provided a wonderful post about it.

    I never thought to serve that at TG…but yes, I totally agree.


  8. Thanks for more great Thanksgiving wine tips! It’s always so interesting and educational to read your wine posts!!

  9. Thanks for the ever growing list of wines:D

  10. Louise 10

    When the vintners were required to put the area where the grapes were grown on their labels, I missed seeing “Napa” and “Sonoma” on everything. Now, I’m so proud to see Lodi, which had grown so many of those grapes previously labeled as Napa and Sonoma for years, being recognized on their own as a place for quality grapes and wines.

  11. Love the spiderweb candles! Love!

  12. Flea 12

    Love the candelabra. And thank you for the Zin labels. Mmm. We won’t have any with Thanksgiving dinner, but I’ll be looking for an opportunity to have one sometime. :)

  13. mmmm Gnarly Head. Haven’t had that for a while, I think it is time to get more. Unfortunately I can’t get it in the state of Pennsylvania. That is just sad.

  14. Cheryl 14

    We frequently add some Gnarly Head to our dinner hour. We’ve got teetotallers in attendance for the festivities, but after all have packed up and gone home…we’ll have some nuclear family thanks given…Old Vine Zin will be on the menu! ;)

  15. Tammy 15

    Great choices on the wine….we are so lucky to have such a great selection here in California.

  16. tipper 16

    Thanksgiving is almost here!! Love the candle holder.

  17. Dee 17

    I’m not sure I’ve had a Zinfandel before. Yes, i’m that much of a pleb :( I’m willing to ditch my Merlot for a taste though. Thanks for the tip.

  18. Teri 18

    This is embarrassing, but I don’t really drink wine much. Like I’ve said before, since moving to San Rafael area, I better start learning… you say the word “red” and Zinfandel, (I’m cringing because I know I’m being ignorant), is Zinfandel a cross between red and white? See, I said it… I don’t know a thing! But I did try a nice Red the other day. Because of your blog I’m learning.

  19. Teri 19

    maybe i’m thinking of White Zinfandel?

  20. Alisa 20

    You’re going to make my in-laws think I’m brilliant! Thanks, I do need all the help I can get.

  21. I feel a strong obligation to post a comment here today because I swear I posted one yesterday about the kitty litter cake, but somehow it got lost in the Internet Bermuda Triangle, so I’d feel terrible about not commenting on such a comment-worthy post.

    Of course you make a heck of a lot of comment worthy posts, so today we will hope this one survives.

    I’m wondering if I should buy the Zinfandel and Riesling myself (especically since Sir Pickypants doesn’t like too many other wines than Rieslings and I should make sure he has a bottle) or should I just tell my family (whom I always request to bring a bottle) to bring Zinfandel and Riesling.

  22. Loved the candlestick. I still marvel at the amount of Halloween stuff you have.

  23. Sandie 23

    Thanks for the heads up on the wines! I haven’t tried any of these, so now I have something new to shop for on our next trip to the booze emporium.

  24. I want to come over for Halloween. Your house is much more exciting than mine!

  25. Mike 25

    Good to hear other recommendations outside of the usual Thanksgiving=Pinot Noir. I always scramble with the wines…after all the effort I put into a Thanksgiving menu…so I’ll have to act on these recommendations early before my last minute forgetfulness sets in!

  26. Nice post Cathy. And I like the Zin recommendation. I especially think those of us that like sweet sides with our turkey such as cranberry sauce & pumpkin pie will really appreciate how well the Zin compliments the array of Thanksgiving flavors.

    Excited for Turkey day!

  27. Maureen 27

    Mmm…loves me some good zin. I think Rosenblum is my favorite! I also really enjoy the Klinkerbrick. I’ll have to revisit the Gnarlyhead, as it’s been many years since I’ve tried that one. Great post, and per usual, those 2 beautiful glasses filled with wine are making me yearn for wine o’clock!

  28. Maureen 28

    Oh, forgot to mention, that I make a cranberry zinfandel sauce to go with the bird on Thanksgiving. (It’s from Cooking Light.) When I first made it years ago, I realized how well zin really complemented the turkey dinner.

  29. Bunny 29

    Thank You! I will be looking for these wines for my dinner. This is so awesome that you’ve posted this!

  30. Woot! A wine that I can get up here AND have bought before – AND ENJOYED!!! Big fan of the gnarly head.

  31. Amber 31

    As I said last time…I so appreciate you helping me not look like an idiot with wine. I even get to throw out some impressive terms and then walk away with dignity. Hopefully no one asks me a question. This is sort of like the only thing I can do in Spanish is count money. When I count their paychecks back to them I always hope they do not start a conversation because I just look dumbfounded which I am. So if I am constantly on the move I’ll be safe.

  32. Ha! I read the title and immediately thought…$2 buck chuck :)

  33. Pam 33

    I am excited to try those wines. I love a good Zinfandel.

  34. KathyB. 34

    Thanks Cathy, every time you post about wine, my Hubby comes home with some of your suggestions to add to our ‘wine cellar’. I must say, you have great taste, maybe that’s why you’re the one starting a vinyard and winery !

  35. Believe it or not, I’ve actually had Gnarly Head Zin. And I actually liked it. A lot. Ahhh…there IS life after Chardonnay!

  36. We’ve been drinking Zin with turkey for years, but I can’t get my father in law to try it. He’s stuck in the merlot camp. Period. I tried the Gnarly Head recently, and it is very nice. That’s saying quite a bit, as red is not something I enjoy as much as white. I love your wine posts.

  37. Liz C. 37

    We have actually had the Gnarly Head wine and love it. I’ll have to try the other two as well. I always love your wine suggestions!


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