Mike Casey

Five Must-Have Wines for Turkey Day

Mike Casey
Five Must-Have Wines for Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is the crown jewel of food and wine holidays but can also be stressful with so many potluck items on one table paired with trying to satisfy wine novices and somm-wannabes alike. It’s enough to stress out even the best Martha Stewarts in us. But have no fear, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. We've pulled together five friendly, yet interesting selections that will partner well with just about anything that lands on your table.  While we chose specific labels, you can also replace with like-minded vintages from your local wine purveyor,

Disclaimer: There are no cabs on this list. What?!   

 Okay, maybe you stopped reading already and declared a Napa blog eschewing cabs for Thanksgiving is blasphemy - fair enough. Though it's not about discarding the holy grail varietal but more giving everyone interesting alternatives and more complimentary bedfellows with that plump white bird. 

That said, bring on your cabs, crack them all and pour away - it's meant to be a gluttonous holiday.  Though two critical pieces of advice for you leathery lovers... 1) Go easy on the tannins and try to find more rounded cabs which will pair better with turkey, and 2) drink the expensive bottles EARLY - waiting until everyone's palate is shot and trying to compensate for dry meat is no way to savor a $100+ Napa cab.  Crack it early and enjoy with some bold cheese or savory appetizers. 

With the disclaimer out of the way, let's get to the list...

1. SOMM PLEASER (and crowd stumper)

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Hello Long Meadow Ranch Pinot Noir Blanc.  No, not a typo or varietal bastardization but a wonderful press of the coveted pinot noir red grape with limited skin contact.  The result is a wolf in sheep's clothing - refreshing minerality and light body but the structure to stand up to stuffing and most foodstuffs. 

2. QUE SIRAH, SIRAH

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Thanksgiving is an interesting food pairing holiday, as the fare is heavy but not bovine. That said, the ideal wine pairing is something with substantial body but low tannins, lush fruit and silky mouthfeel.  "Thought you'd never ask!", said petite sirah.  Not the most top of mind but try this velvety violet varietal from Guthrie Family Vineyards and you just might fall in love. 

3. JAM ON IT (NOT)

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Zinfandel might be the second most contested varietal after chardonnay due to its often jammy palate and high alcohol composition.  However, it's a beautiful when artfully crafted as a medium body wine with balanced fruit.  We couldn't believe this was a zin when first sipping the Tres Sabores 2014 Rutherford vintage.  Similar to syrah, it's a great companion with turkey and stuffing. 

4. "S" for NEUTRAL

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This little known German varietal is an ideal break from bold reds and buttery chardonnays or ideal pairing with shellfish.  Either way, reach for a chilled bottle of Sylvaner and you won't be disappointed with its very clean palate and pretty neutral fruit profile.  

5. LIQUID GOLD

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Don't call it a dessert wine!  Okay, it is technically but not one of those syrupy late harvest versions.  This is the real deal "noble rot" botrytis wine produced by the iconic Far Niente winery.  Let's just say the nearly 90% fruit loss rate to produce this wine is much appreciated when it crosses your palate.  Enjoy by itself or with some blue cheese - heavenly experience either way. 

Hope you enjoy some or all of these beauties during your special feast with family and friends.

 Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!

-Mike Casey // The 29 Napa