Once we’re all gathered around the table, laughing and joking and talking about what we’re thankful for, we’re reminded why Thanksgiving is such a meaningful holiday. But let’s face it, there’s a lot of prep and planning that goes into this festive meal, no matter how big or small your celebration.
Luckily, the wine will be one of the easiest components of the Thanksgiving menu, as Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays for serving all your favorite bottles. With so many different flavors and textures on the table, from savory stuffing to roasted turkey to sweet-tart cranberry sauce and more, there are no hard and fast rules for pairings — it’s really anything goes.
Sonoma County, with its numerous appellations and grape varieties, is an ideal place to find great wines for the table. Here’s just a snapshot of Sonoma varieties to try this Thanksgiving.
With its long history in the United States, Zinfandel is often referred to as America’s heritage grape. Many vineyards of old vines dot the West Coast winemaking landscape, and Sonoma is home to many of these historic plantings. Zinfandel as a variety is known for its bright red fruits, plummy tones, as well as lots of delectable spices. It’s a full-bodied wine that can stand up to hearty proteins, but the fruit-forward style is a match for cranberry sauce and sweeter vegetables such as butternut squash or sweet potato casserole.
Wines to Try:Dry Creek Vineyard Historic Blocks Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, $55 Seghesio Family Vineyards Old Vines Zinfandel, Sonoma County, $40
Cabernet Sauvignon is another tried-and-true red wine favorite for the Thanksgiving meal, with its dark berry fruit flavors and savory qualities. In Sonoma County, Cabernet shows all this and more. The terroir and diurnal shifts in the growing season produce wines with great minerality and elegance. Try it with herbed stuffing or dry-brined turkey.
Wines to Try:A. Rafanelli Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley Aperture Cellars Oliver Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, $150
This pink wine is not just for the warm summer months. Rosé, often with notable fruit aromas and flavors, and lively acidity, will surprise everyone with its versatility this Thanksgiving. See how it works with lighter proteins such as turkey, as well as hard-to-pair vegetables such as roasted Brussels sprouts or green bean casserole.
Wines to Try:Benziger Family Vineyards North Coast Rosé, North Coast AVA, $26 Alma de Cattleya Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, $20
As one of the signature grapes of Sonoma County, Chardonnay comes in a myriad of styles, from creamy and rich to crisp and lean, and all types have a place on the Thanksgiving dinner table. Try a rich Chardonnay with buttery mashed potatoes or a mineral-driven Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast with herbed stuffing.
Wines to Try:Chalk Hill Founder’s Block Chardonnay, Chalk Hill AVA, $100 Ledson ‘Dutton Ranch’ Russian River Valley Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, $58
Pinot Noir is to red wine in Sonoma County as Chardonnay is to white wine. The grape especially thrives in cool-climate sites on the Sonoma Coast, but beautiful, terroir-driven Pinot Noirs can be found throughout Sonoma County. For the Thanksgiving meal, Pinot is an especially popular choice as its light body works with roast turkey, roasted vegetables, and so much more, and its fruit and spice character pair across a range of Thanksgiving dishes.
Wines to Try:Landmark Hop Kiln Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $40 Hirsch Vineyards San Andreas Fault Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $60
Sparkling wine is the MVP of Thanksgiving dinner. Serve it as an aperitif when guests arrive, then keep it flowing throughout the meal. If your turkey is deep-fried, sparkling wine is an ideal match. It also provides contrasting texture to soup or those that like a heavy pour of gravy over everything.
Wines to Try:J. Vineyards Blanc de Blancs, Russian River Valley, $80 Inman Family Wines Blanc de Blancs, Russian River Valley, $73
Everyone knows turkey and side dishes are only half the story when it comes to a Thanksgiving feast. Dessert equally takes center stage this time of year — and you’ll want a wine for all those pumpkin pies, pecan pies, or whatever else fills the pie crust.
Wines to Try:Chateau St. Jean Belle Terre Vineyard Late Harvest Riesling, Alexander Valley, $60 Anaba White Aero Port, Sonoma Valley, $36