The New York Cork Report Guide to Thanksgiving Wine
Thanksgiving wine columns. Editors demand them. Writers write them.
Of course, people read them. They must. These “Perfect Thanksgiving Wine” columns are ubiquitous.
We don’t like them here, though. We don’t think anyone should worry so much about wine pairings of any sort, for any meal. Wine pairing is often much more about avoiding bad pairings than it is finding the singular “perfect” wine for whatever is on your plate.
Barbera is getting a lot of attention this year in Thanksgiving columns. It’s a great pick — fruity, low-tannin and crunch with acidity. But is it t he “perfect Thanksgiving wine? I don’t think there’s any such thing. That’s too limiting. Too black-and-white.
When people ask me what they should drink, I always ask what types of wines they like. That’s the most important thing — even if I think Barbera is a good choice, if you don’t like it, why on earth would you drink it?
The fact is, if you read enough Thanksgiving wine columns, you’ll find you’re sure to find someone willing to say that most any wine from any region is “great with turkey.”
This year, I’ve asked the New York Cork Report team to share one New York wine that they will be serving at their Thanksgiving dinners. Not surprisingly, there are a few rieslings mentioned (I’ll be serving some too) but even among our like-minded group, diversty rules.
Red Tail Ridge Winery 2010 Blaufrankisch
Fresh, fruit, faintly floral and spicy, I’ve enjoyed drinking this wine with myriad foods over the past few months and it’s proven supremely versatile on the table. That’s important on Thanksgiving and I know this wine will play nicely with the various, fairly traditional, food we’ll serve. There will be pinot and riesling as well — but this is the wine I’m suggesting to anyone who will listen this year. – Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
Hermann J. Wiemer 2002 Dry Riesling
Jim Gaffigan mused that Thanksgiving is the strangest American holiday because we just do what we already do with regularity: we overeat. Given that starting point, it’s fair to wonder why there is such stress over which bottles of wine to serve. Isn’t consumption the point, not evaluation? But there’s no mistaking the magic of riesling with most Thanksgiving food, and I love one with a few years of bottle age. This is a special wine for a small family gathering, enjoying good company, comfort food, and a wine that strikes the ideal chord — somewhere between contemplation and background music. – Evan Dawson, Managing Editor
Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2007 Gewürztraminer
When I moved to Colorado two years ago, I didn’t completely sever ties with the Finger Lakes wine industry; I continued to subscribe to two wine clubs: Sheldrake Point and Heart & Hands. It certainly comes in handy this time of year. Lots of people talk about “aromatic white” production in the Finger Lakes but Gewürztraminer definitely plays second fiddle to Riesling. For my money, Sheldrake makes some of the best Gewürz in the region and I have it at practically every Thanksgiving. I’ve been sitting on a bottle of 2007 and it may be time to give that a go. We’ll see if it shows the age (or petrol) like some 2007 Rieslings. – Tom Mansell, Science Editor
Eve’s Cidery Autumn Gold
Perhaps I’ve just been drinking the Kool-Aid for too long now, but cider has truly gotten in my blood. The more I read about its role in American life, it’s as if Thanksgiving (both what it represents and the food it puts forth on the table in abundance) was meant to feature cider. Cider, much like riesling, can spawn the range from bone dry to unctuously sweet, and from totally still to fully sparkling. What this means other than a fireworks show on your palate, is a full arsenal to match the gravy, the yams, the stuffing and the beautiful bird. I’m going with Eve’s; their “Autumn’s Gold” is a blend of French, English and American apples, and is naturally sparkling with a touch of sweetness. Clocking in at 10% abv, it will dance beautifully with the food and make Thomas Jefferson proud. – David Flaherty, Cider Correspondent
Peconic Bay Winery 2010 Lowerre Family Estate Red
As you may have heard, now that my time with Peconic Bay Winery has come to a close, we’re moving to Sonoma county. The next chapter. To save on airfare for the four of us, we booked to fly on Thanksgiving Day. Sparked by my LinkedIn announcement that I was moving to Santa Rosa, I had a brief conversation with an old friend and colleague, a fellow I haven’t seen in over 10 years, now the Senior VP of a winery. He followed his offers for information, references and guidance with the question – so when do you get here? I told him we’re arriving Thanksgiving Day and spending the night in a hotel, and he said (and I was stunned), “…oh no you’re not. You’re coming here for dinner.” What are we drinking that night? I don’t know — does it really matter? In truth, I’m bringing the 2010 Peconic Bay Lowerre Family Estate (Red) that night, and I’ll toast looking both backwards and forwards, east and west. – Jim Silver, Business Editor
Heart & Hands Wine Company 2010 Patrician Verona Vineyard Riesling
One of the wines that will be on our Thanksgiving table this year is the 2010 Heart & Hands Patrician Verona Vineyard Riesling. Its slightly dry style and semi-tart flavors should contrast perfectly with the hearty, rich dishes that are part of our traditional Thanksgiving fare. And since Heart & Hands is one of my family’s favorite wineries to visit, there should be plenty of good memories to share along with the wine. – Lindsay Prichard, Finger Lakes Correspondent
Arrowhead Spring Vineyard 2010 Meritage
With a Thanksgiving turkey, many know-it-alls will tell you have you have to drink white wine. I disagree, especially if you’re like me and prefer the dark meat. I like a sturdy, complex, full-bodied red to cut through the richness and unctuousness of the dark meat with its tannins. The ripe fruit, oak and tannins of this local blend will pair well with our turkey in Western New York. – Michael Chelus, Niagara-Lake Erie Correspondent
Anthony Road 2011 Bellaria (Late Harvest Pinot Gris)
This holiday, a few key wine-loving family members will be out of town, but of those remaining I know a great dessert wine to finish off the evening will be appreciated more than any wine before or during dinner. Anthony Road Bellaria is a perfect fit. An extremely approachable choice will intrigue those not usually in love with this style and ensures this will pair well with rich holiday dessert options without worry of sugar overdose. – Kevin Welch, Finger Lakes Contributor
Fox Run Vineyards 2011 Chardonnay
There are a lot of people coming to dinner. It’s a crowd-pleaser. Easily quaffable. Goes with turkey. It won’t break the bank. And I always like to take a little bit of New York home to Texas. – Katie Myers, New York City Correspondent
Hermann J. Wiemer 2009 Dry Riesling (Magnum)
I’m supposed to be off the hook this year. Usually, I supply the vinous pipeline to the crowd. This year, I was told that there are only going to be twenty six people, the cooking is all in hand, other folks have pledged to bring wine, and they just want me to pick up some assorted fresh fruit for a snack basket. I’m not sure whether to feel relieved or jilted. I’m bringing a fruit basket alright. I have this big bottle of riesling that arrived too late for turkey day last year, and was not used for the other holidays. Maybe I’ll even share it. – Todd Trzaskos, North Country Correspondent
Peconic Bay Winery 2001 Oregon Hills Merlot
Wine is always a very important part of Thanksgiving for me and my family. There are usually bubbles and cider alongside red and white wine. Magnums often find their way onto our Thanksgiving table, too. It just seems right — a large bottle and a large bird. This year, I am going old school with this 2001 merlot to give folks the opportunity to taste something they can’t always get their hands on. To taste something older from Long Island is even better. My only regret about opening this on Thanksgiving is the fact that it’s not a magnum. — Michael Gorton, Long Island Correspondent
The Lenz Winery 2010 Merlot
One word that comes to mind when selecting a wine to bring to Thanksgiving with family is quantity. Supplying wine for a large Irish family means finding a wine at a price point that doesn’t cause one to cringe when popping copious corks at the table. This years’ bulk wine selection will be The Lenz Winery’s 2010 Merlot. At $18 a bottle it is dripping with ripe fruit and cradled by firm, balanced tannins. I’d like to think this wine is a crowd-pleaser sealed with a wine-geek’s approval. — Gibson Campbell, Beer Correspondent
Lieb Cellars 2009 Blanc de Blanc
I’m going to San Francisco for this holiday and I’m bringing New York State wine with me. Sadly, it doesn’t get frequent flier miles. It gives you a dry, crisp and eye-opening mouthful slicing through the richness of the meal and battles tryptophan — saving you from passing out face first in the sweet potato mash. With only a hint of yeast and more acid than the Haight’s seen since the late 1960s, this bad boy hits your palate like a super nova. Lemons, apricot tart with a moderated dollop of Crème Fraiche, and something that calls to mind Citron de Vigne from Fresh. Most importantly, the tiny beading and saline quality brings to mind a fall day on Peconic Bay anchoring me firmly in the North Fork regardless of my travels. I may go West Coast from time to time, but Biggie, my heart stays East. – Tracy Weiss, Roving Correspondent
Kontokosta Winery 2012 Sauvignon Blanc
Thanksgiving can be a challenge to many wine drinkers seeking the bottle that will complement a three-ring circus. True versatility is a feat. But we end up inviting the wines we enjoy — and there will be many. For the holiday weeks ahead, I will be contributing this wine to the table. Its subtly opulent fruit profile on the nose and palate make it delicious on its own while its minerality and acidity make it an equal partner at the most bountiful table. It is perfect simply as an opening act to whet the palate or a wonderful alternative for those who prefer something a little brighter with their Thanksgiving feast. — Katherine Jaeger, Long Island Correspondent