It’s Time To Start Planning

I’ve been getting lots of emails asking which wines are best to serve with Thanksgiving dinner.  The big question seems to resonate in finding a wine or wines that pair easily with a variety of unique aromas, flavors, textures and tastes.  Folks this year also want inexpensive choices.  With the economy in the tank and the need to serve a crowd, dollars spent have become an important sentiment in regards to wine consumption.

Many have asked to recommend a wine to carry them through appetizers and continue to please all through dessert.  Wow, that’s a hard one, but I’ll think about it.  It’s not an impossible request.

And some want to change wines with every course, accenting varying components of their meal.  I applaud you for this.

Pairing wines with food is definitely a matter of personal preference, however, I do feel there are some that go well with most traditional Thanksgiving fare.  Wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Riesling and Gewurztraminer are wonderful choices for those of you who prefer white wine varietals.  For red-lovers, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Syrah/Shiraz are your best bet.

For Thanksgiving, you want a wine with a light-medium body.  They will be less complex and lower in tannic structure, allowing the wine to better suit the many flavors this meal has to offer.

Over the next few weeks I will be on the lookout for wines I feel are worthy of your holiday celebration.

Today, I want to start with Riesling (REEZ-ling).  Overall, Riesling is made very dry or fairly sweet.  It is an excellent wine to serve if any of your dishes have a bit of spice in them.

Riesling is a very unassuming white wine, recently becoming very hip and fresh among wine-drinkers.  It’s the rage and it rocks.  You should try it, if you haven’t already.

There’s also a famous saying among wine-trade insiders, “When it comes to wine, folks talk dry, but they drink sweet.”  It seems as if lots of people love a wine with a bit of residual sugar in it.  Who knew?  Okay, I’ll admit I did.

When drinking Riesling, consider it as one of the most transparent of wine varietals and in a sense pure.  Tannins and oak nuances are not there to mask its sweetness as in some of your other favorite varietal wines.

Riesling is vinified in a range of sweetness levels, some of which can be very vibrant with food pairings.

The American style of Riesling is a bit different from the German style spatlese (shpayt-layz-eh) version.  A good spatlese will cut right through the mouth-coating consistency of a cream sauce.  While the American style will drink a bit more sweet and can be much CHEAPER than the imported styles.

I have found when faced with a group of varying palates and a large holiday meal with many flavors, the American style Riesling pleases a wider audience. 

Let’s take a look at a couple of American style Rieslings I have found to be favorites among wine enthusiasts.  You will be also find these choices to be very easy on the pocketbook.

2007 Snoqualmie Winemaker’s Select Riesling Columbia Valley, Washington $8

Very crisp.  Very refreshing.  Overwhelming pear and peaches on the nose.  A textured palate with a lovely finish of delicate honey.  If you can find this, get it.  It’s flying off the shelves.

2007 Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley, Washington $8

Intense aromas of melon and pear.  Light floral flavors surrounded with subtle touches of apricot.  This is a huge seller for Chateau Ste Michelle and should be very easy to find. 

Add these wines to your Thanksgiving shopping list, I know you will enjoy them.

What do you like serve as a your go-to Thanksgiving beverage?


The spiders have emerged.  These fuzzy but fearsome arachnids are about three feet long from leg to leg.  They are quite large and threaten to pounce on all who dare to walk under them.  Yes, we can blame these on Martha too.

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  1. HoneyB 1

    I wrote these down and I am going to look for them today! If I can’t find them here, I am going to order online…I found the 2007 Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling on sale on Calvery Woodley website, the only downfall – the shipping is as much as the wine!!

  2. Wow, who recommended two wines we serve quite frequently here in our home. They are locally ( O.K., state wide ) produced and readily available in all our supermarkets. Plus, when we serve these wines they are well liked and the bottles are empty when our company leaves ! Have you considered Pasek’s Cranberry Wine ? We give this wine as gifts for Christmas and serve it on Thanksgiving, It goes so very well with what is traditionally served at a Thanksgiving meal, and again, there is never any left in the bottles when the company leaves. We have served this wine to people who usually do not drink at all, never…and they do drink this cranberry wine, and enjoy it ! Thanks for the wine advice and tips !

  3. Barbie with a T 3

    To be honest, I have never been introduced to Riesling wines before, and from you description, I think I will try this before Thanksgiving and see if we like it. If it passes our taste test, I would like to change things up and serve it for Thanksgiving this year. I have always served Concha Y Toro, an Argentine wine with our Thanksgiving bird, but this year I think we will try something different.
    I have a daughter who is deathly afraid of spiders…she would freak out at that huge black thing above the window! I love it.

  4. Last year Martha Stewart suggested serving Woodchuck Cider Ale (I believe that was the name) with Thanksgiving dinner. It’s made from Granny Smith apples and has this very crisp and clean flavor to it. I like it because it’s somewhat dry. It goes so well with turkey and everything else you fix. I’m planning on buying it to go with Thanksgiving dinner this year.

  5. Flea 5

    We’ll be teetotalling at Thanksgiving, as we’ll be celebrating with family elsewhere. Christmas, too. *sigh* But we’re throwing a Christmas party with friends just so we can make our homemade eggnog.

    Thanks for the education this morning!

  6. Bunny 6

    I love it when you talk wine! I’m copying these names down so I can have them for our Thanksgiving dinner!!

  7. I haven’t experimented much with Rieslings. I think I’ll check out that Chateau st. Michelle to see what I think. Love the giant spider :)

  8. Great wines you have recommended. Thanks! I like a reisling with TG dinner but I have not tried these. Will give them a go if I can find them way over here!

  9. Ah yes, the time is creeping closer. Yikes. I may end up with 19 people this year and it’s freaking me out.

    I take the easy way out with wine at T-day. I just make everyone else bring a bottle. ;-)

    I do loves me my Riesling. It’s one of the few wines my husband will drink too.

  10. Great suggestions. Ste. Michelle is one of my favorites;) I am such an expert, you know.

  11. Riesling was my daughters choice on Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the Gewurztraminer…both excellent choices!!!

  12. I was thinking of serving a Riesling or a Gewurstraminer at Thanksgiving–I have bought some of both and they are definitely on the sweeter side. I also have some demi-sec that is quite sweet–maybe too sweet for Thanksgiving?

    Thank you for all your info.–it’s extremely helpful!!

  13. Maureen 13

    The Chateau St Michele is the riesling that was my “first” wine. My college roommate and I bought it by the case!

    The photo of the glass of wine by the pool looks very enticing!

  14. Thank you for the great information!! I read an article a few weeks ago which was promoting dry rose as the quintessential turkey pairing. What are your thoughts on that?

    Also: thank you for your pronunciation guide, or I would have been embarrassing myself looking for a SPAT-leeze.

  15. Frightening spider — eek !

    I’ve never grown a taste for wine. Can you recommend a good cider instead ?

    Maybe that makes me a heathen, but I’m a NICE heathen :)

  16. Marjie 16

    Since 2 of my Thanksgiving guests are recovering alcoholics, I don’t serve wine. And since I don’t have much taste for wine or adult beverages, preferring sweets, it doesn’t hurt my feelings!

  17. Biz 17

    Thanks for the wine lesson! It is so easy to stick with the same thing, i.e. Santa Marghareta (sp?) Pinot Grigio, etc.

    I’ll have to give Reislings a try!

  18. Teri 18

    Since I’ve moved to San Rafael this summer and live so close to Napa, everyone speaks “Wine” here. I’ve never really been much of a wine connoisseur. Thanks to your blog I have learned a lot. I am going to take your recommendations! Thanks!

    Aren’t you afraid after Halloween to pick up your spider decorations, that you might pick up a real one by mistake? I did that once when we put up that fake web stuff… now we don’t put that up anymore! No. More. Spiders….creepy.

  19. Alisa 19

    Thanks to you, I’m going to impress the in-laws this year! They are wine snobs (but very sweet anyway!) and will be so happy that I’m serving them good wine this year.

  20. ELRA 20

    I love riesling, my all time fave is the one from Alsace. I’d love to the American riesling one day!

  21. Kyddryn 21

    How sad is it that my go-to beverage for any occasion is…water?

    I have a wine rack, and it is inhabited (and not just by dust critters or giant spiders) but we aren’t much of a drinking family. I grew up drinking wine with meals, but now? Not so much.

    I really DO prefer dry to sweet, though.

    I look forward to reading more, as my knowledge on the subject is just about limited to “I like the label.” and which glass is for which wine.

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  22. Tanya 22

    Riesling is hands down my favorite type of wine. I’m such a lightweight that even after one glass of wine I’m buzzed, but I don’t feel like that after a glass of Riesling.

  23. Thank you for the Riesling recommendations. Mr. Clairol loves Riesling and I never know what to buy. You always give good wino advice. Wine…I meant wine.

  24. Cheryl 24

    Oh, the trauma of having teetotallers in the Thanksgiving group!

    (My husband and I typically make up for lost time after the guests have left, the kids are bedded down, and the dishwasher running…)

    So fun to see the Snoqualmie riesling on your feature! (My inlaws used to live in Prosser, WA, and she worked the tasting room at Hogue…pre-twins we had a memorable wine tasting tour, and Snoqualmie was one of our stops!)

    Happy memories. :)

  25. Amber 25

    My sister and my step mom have a great wine palate. I just know if I like it or not. I may bring these to their house and throw a few of your sentences around and then just walk away and let them wonder how the hell I know what I am talking about. Thanks for the fun.
    And thanks for the knowledge, it helps alot since I haven’t a clue and I do like to bring a bottle when invited to a function. You are quite impressive, pumps and a/c and now wine talk.
    Till tomorrow…

  26. Lo 26

    When we opt for white wine at the Thanksgiving table, we do usually opt for a Riesling… though I don’t mind a nice Syrah or Zinfandel with my cranberries either. So, we usually offer up both.

    ON TOPIC: I discovered a great Washington Riesling over the weekend — Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl 2007 Riesling. Its quite delicious, fruity, with some nice minerals on the finish.

  27. Well, I have to say that on the years we do the large Thanksgiving dinners with dh’s grandma as host, at least half the people would probably think serving wine was a little weird, maybe a little snooty. The same half would be the ones drinking too much wine and getting plastered though, LOL. Iced tea and water and sometimes lemonade or some kind of kid friendly beverage is what is usually served with Thanksgiving dinner. I think punch is usually reserved for the Christmas party. However, I would love to try wine this year, particularly if we have a smaller gathering.

    I dragged dh to Wyldewood Cellars this weekend. They’re the folks who produce that elderberry wine I was telling you about. We tried three more wines: a (too) sweet blackberry, an award winning elderberry (nice balance between dry and sweet with noticeable tannins and oak whatchacallems), and an award winning elderflower (my favorite). We had a bottle of the sand plum the other night and I really love this one too. I’m thinking maybe the elderflower would be nice with Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll have to see what the folks at the winery recommend when I go back.

  28. I work in the wine industry and usually celebrate the holidays with food & wine people. We start with sparkling wine – nothing like bubbles for festivity! Light, dry rosés also work well with turkey – “pink” is in this year, so there are lots of nice Napa Valley rosés in the marketplace. Happy experimenting everyone!

  29. I think I have the Ste Michelle on my counter at home. Now if I could only remember to open it!

  30. Sandie 30

    Hey there, if anyone is interested in a great white wine from (of all places) Kansas, the Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery puts out a tasty (and reasonably priced) white that’s perfect for Thanksgiving and holiday entertaining. It’s called Oktoberfest—and it’s definitely worth looking into! And no, I’m not affiliated with that winery in any way…although I do purchase their products from time to time ;-)

  31. Erin 31

    That big spider is FREAKY! :)

  32. Here comes the spider…
    Such nice wine information! In fact this last weekend I was allready looking arround for wine. It’s hard to chose…

  33. I would name the spider Fred. We have a jumping spider named Fuzzy who has lived on our back porch for three years. No ice storm of poison can kill Fuzzy!

  34. Mrs. L 34

    Gotta love that Martha. And is it okay to admit I talk dry and drink dry too?

  35. I have been enjoying your Halloween things. That big spider looks perfect. For the first time I noticed that Fleet Farm had an entire Halloween section because I’ve been reading your blog.

  36. pam 36

    The Chateau Ste Michelle has always been one of my favorites!

  37. HoneyB 37

    I’m back! I found the Chateau St. Michelle – more than $8 here (closer to $13) but on the web it was going to cost almost more than the wine was just for shipping! The Snoqualmie was not to be found. I’m really disappointed in that because the description sounds like one I know would have appealed to Grumpy.

  38. I refuse to believe it’s time to plan for Thanksgiving already. Nope. Not listening.

    By the way, you won the earrings give-a-way on my blog! Congrats! :)

  39. Dee 39

    Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately there’s no such thing as cheap wine in Malaysia. The government imposes a hefty Sin Tax, would you believe.

    Hope you have a better, a great, day today.

  40. Thanks for doing some research for us wine pairing challenged peeps!

  41. Shirley 41

    Riesling is always one of my favorites, but I’ve found the sweetness and crispness can vary greatly. Our Dutch friend who visited in the spring taught me that if you want an even sweeter riesling, you should get one that says auslese. Those are guaranteed sweet. I like them, but sometimes those are even too sweet for me. I would love to try these, but wonder if they are here on the east coast. The photos are great BTW.

  42. Jane 42

    Thank you very much for the excellent suggestions for Thanksgiving wines. I’m going to give them a try long before T-day, though. I appreciate that you can inform without sounding like a wine-snob, as so many others do. Keep it up, I’m learning a lot.

  43. I find this whole conversation very funny because my dad (a serious wine connaisseur, 8K bottle cellar) always argues with me over what to serve “the wine won’t compete with all those flavors…” he says. Last year he served unfiltered Newton. I’ll go with your pick.

  44. Katie 44

    I just saw both of these at the store today. The Chateau Ste Michelle is one we’ve enjoyed before, so now I need to grab the Snoqualmie.

  45. Erinn 45

    Lovely list!
    I have not always been a Reisling fan until wine tasting this weekend. Had a fantastic one at Letitia. I’m a convert.

  46. Erin 46

    I know that there is a proper wine for every occasion, every meal and so on but I just love my wine and I drink whatever I am in the mood for at that time regardless of what I am eating. I just found it too complicated to pair wines with the proper diner. I am going to try these out though, this may change my mind in the end.

  47. Tammy 47

    That is one freaky spider.
    Can’t wait for more wine lessons!!

  48. Marlene 48

    Those are some nice suggestions…It has been suggested in my house that I get Richard Childress Scuppernong Wine…come quick and beat them all up for me.

    I like the septors! I need one of those to banish the fools in my house.


  49. That spider is super creepy. I would avoid your house at Halloween, at all cost (unless you were making those shrimp skewers…) ;)

  50. The Kung Fu Girl Riesling is pretty good too! I like it a lot, plus it’s fun to ask for. :-)

  51. jhonny 51

    How are the bags were candies, chocolates and peanuts come in called?


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