Selecting wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner can be a difficult task.
There’s the turkey, of course. But dark meat or white?
And then there are so many sides with so many flavors: roasted root vegetables, savory stuffing, green bean casserole with bacon, tart cranberry sauce, rich and sweet yams, rich and creamy gravy, buttery herbed garlic mashed potatoes, spicy and sweet pumpkin or apple or pecan pie – or all three.
Some swear by sparkling wine or a light, crisp and fruity rosé for Thanksgiving dinner. But, really, there are no rigid rules for choosing wine for this holiday feast.
Sparkling wines – versatile, bubbly, acidic – are a good choice to cut through the richness of the holiday dinner. So is a bright, dry riesling or silky gewurztraminer with hints of grapefruit or exotic fruit such as lychee.
If you prefer red wine, consider pinot noir – low in tannins, high in acidity, with brightness from notes of tart berries or cherries. Other options: grenache, zinfandel and sangiovese.
In general, whether you select white or red or both, you’ll likely want to avoid heavy, complex wines, opting instead for livelier and lighter varietals.
Here are local wine pairings to consider for Thanksgiving dinner.
Owner Craig Leuthold recommends grenache for a red and gewurztraminer for a white. Maryhill, which officially opened its new Spokane tasting room in Kendall Yards on Saturday, has 2014 vintages of both.
The grenache ($36) is “lower in tannins,” Leuthold said. “It is a very fruity type of a wine, but it’s dry and fairly light in style. I consider it a nice alternative to a pinot noir for people who want a little more richness.” Grenache is slightly bolder and offers a little more body than pinot noir, but Leuthold said, “it won’t overwhelm the food.” (He also recommends pinot noir, of course, calling it “the quintessential holiday red.”)
The gewurztraminer ($14), he said, “has got a little spiciness to it, a little bit of citrus undertones. It’s very high in acid, so it pairs well with food. It really provides a nice contrast to the richness of the dressing and the gravy and things like that. For me, it’s a traditional white wine for turkey and Thanksgiving.”
Look for Maryhill’s crisp and vibrantly pink rosé of sangiovese ($16), which adds a pop of color to the dinner table as well as aromas of strawberry, peach, watermelon and honeycrisp apple.
Founded in 1999 and opened in 2001 in Goldendale, Maryhill is one of the largest wineries in Washington state, producing about 80,000 cases annually. To celebrate its new Spokane location, Maryhill is running a holiday wine sale through Nov. 26. Its newly built tasting room encompasses 5,000 square feet and offers 180-degree views of downtown Spokane and the Spokane River. 1303 W. Summit Parkway, Suite 100. (509) 773-1976. maryhillwinery.com.
Patricia Butterfield, who owns this new winery with her husband, Phillip, agrees selecting wine for Thanksgiving is “always tricky, not only because turkey isn’t an easy pairing, but because the dishes we serve at Thanksgiving represent each families’ most revered culinary traditions. In other words, Thanksgiving is a bingo card of flavors.” To go with that medley, she suggests the 2016 Harvest Moon, Winescape’s gewurztraminer ($16), which starts with notes of honeydew, key lime, mandarin and allspice. Expect ripe peach and citrus, too. “The wine is crisp with a bit of residual sugar,” Patricia Butterfield said. “It’s a good complement to the savory and sweet combo that we all look forward to.”
As for red, she recommends the 2014 Red Mountain syrah ($26). “The 2014 vintage was especially warm, resulting in an intensely colored and full-bodied wine,” she said, noting this wine offers aromas of white pepper with “while the palate is a thick bramble of ripe red and blue fruit. We love this syrah with pork and, of course, at any barbecue” – Thanksgiving dinner, too. 6011 E. 32nd Ave. (509) 994-0382.
This new Coeur d’Alene winery, owned by Shelly and Scott Crawford – he’s a chiropractor; she’s the winemaker – is located in the Resort Plaza Shops in downtown. Decor is modern rustic chic, with plenty of wood accents, elegant tans and beiges, and a fly-fishing theme. Jason Clarke, the general manager, recommends the 2016 rosé of pinot noir ($18), produced in the traditional French style with notes of grapefruit, honey dew and red raspberries. And, for red, he recommends the 2015 merlot ($35), finished on French oak, with soft tannins, hints of cherry, spice and plum, and a smooth finish. Castaway also makes a pinot noir ($38), aged 18 months in French oak, with notes of cherry, rose and black currant. 210 Sherman Ave., Suite 161, Coeur d’Alene. (208) 819-1296. castawaycellars.com.
Robert Karl Cellars
For white, owner Rebecca Gunselman recommends the 2016 sauvignon blanc ($18), which she describes as “crisp and lively with notes of lemongrass and cinnamon.”
For red, she said, “Our Claret is a sure bet.” Robert Karl is just releasing its 2014 claret ($22). The Bordeaux-style red blend is one of Robert Karl’s most popular wines. It’s made up of 47 percent cabernet sauvignon, 15 percent merlot, 15 percent cabernet franc, 15 percent malbec and 8 percent petite verdot. Gunselman describes it as “an easygoing red with rich and generous notes of black cherry, cedar and espresso on the nose. In the mouth, this wine is solidly built with blackberry, rosebud and cassis overtones, laced with cream, with a dash of mocha on the finish of silky tannins,” she said. It’s perfect for this Thanksgiving, but would also “age beautifully for five to seven years,” said Gunselman, who owns the boutique winery with her husband, physician Joe Gunselman. 115 W. Pacific Ave. (509) 363-1353. www.robertkarl.com.
Terra Blanca Winery
Daryl Baker, the tasting room and wine club manager at this Benton City-based winery and estate vineyard, recommends the 2016 Arch Terrace rosé ($18). It “pairs wonderfully with turkey, ham and all your Thanksgiving fixings,” he said. In fact, it’s the wine he’s served at his own Thanksgiving table for the past several years. This rosé is 66 percent sangiovese and 34 percent cabernet franc. All of the grapes are estate grown, and the wine is produced at the family-owned winery on Red Mountain. In addition to Thanksgiving dinner, this crisp and lively rose pairs well with fresh fruit and cheese. “It has a ton of strawberry and raspberry notes on the nose as well as on the palate and a nice bright acidity with just a hint of residual sugar,” Baker said. 926 W. Sprague Ave. (509) 340-9140. terrablanca.com.
Owner and winemaker Joe Forest suggests two wines “that work great with Thanksgiving dinner.” And, he’s running a special on both in November.
The 2015 Evergreen Vineyard riesling ($18) is crisp and bright with just a hint of residual sugar. Inspired by rieslings from Germany’s Mosel region, Forest treated this wine to a long, cold fermentation. It offers notes of apricot and white peach as well as a distinctive minerality.
The 2014 Art den Hoed Vineyards grenache ($28) uses grapes from two separate vineyard blocks to bring complexity to the wine. It was aged 17 months on French oak and offers mineral tones as well as brightness and, Forest said, “beautiful acidity.” Expect notes of black raspberry as well as undertones of herbaceousness and sandalwood.
Tempus is offering a package deal with one bottle of each wine for $40. 8 N. Post St., Suite 8. (509) 270-0298. www.tempuscellars.com.
Cougar Crest Estate Winery
Rosemary Brasch, the Spokane tasting room manager, suggests the 2016 Albarino ($24), a “fragrant” white with “floral, citrus and tamarind aromas” and a bit of zing. Its minerality and acidity help it stand up to food, which is one of the reasons Brasch recommends it. “It’ll hold up to turkey and dressing,” she said.
So will the award-winning 2011 Anniversary Cuvee ($40), made up of 64 percent merlot, 23 percent petit verdot and 13 percent malbec. “It opens with aromas of sweet spices as well as plums and cherries followed by luscious flavors of dark chocolate,” Brasch said. “Extensive aging gives this wine balance, layering of flavors and a long finish.” 8 N. Post St., Suite 6. (509) 241-3850 cougarcrestwinery.com.
Helix by Reininger
Kristopher James, manager of the Spokane tasting room for this Walla Walla-based winery, recommends the 2014 Helix SoRho ($42), a southern Rhone blend of cinsault, mourvedre and grenache. “I personally love this wine as a littler red that has a pinot noir ability to pair nicely across a broad spectrum of foods and flavors,” he said, adding it’s “perfect for Thanksgiving in that sense.” 824 W. Sprague Ave. (509) 242-3190. www.helixwine.com.