Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It has yet to be successfully commercialized, and it centers around family and food. What could be better! The celebratory nature of the meal suggests that several bottles of wine will be consumed, but the varied nature of the foods on the table -- and the fact that many of the foods have some sweetness -- makes pairing a single wine challenging. Yet, whether reds, whites or even rosé, Rhone-style wines are good bets. The reds tend to be fruity and open-knit, while the whites tend to be rich and unoaked. All these characteristics are friendly with a Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, last year, we had four different major newspapers suggest Tablas Creek wines for Thanksgiving... and each of the four suggested a different wine!
To get a sense of some of the different options out there, I asked several members of the Tablas Creek team to share what they're pairing with their Thanksgiving feasts this year (whether Tablas Creek or otherwise). Here is what they shared:
Neil Collins, Executive Winemaker
I will be drinking a Domaine Weinbach Cuvee Theo Riesling. It is delicate yet has a lushness and balance that will be perfect for our thanksgiving table. Chances are high that there will also be some hard cider consumed!
Lauren Cross, Marketing Assistant
I'm starting with Vermentino because it is bright and fun and low in alcohol- a perfect socializing wine. Our Tablas Creek Vermentino is my mother's favorite and since she is the main chef of our Thanksgiving I like to make sure to keep her happy! With our meal I will serve our 2010 En Gobelet which is my favorite. I love to share this wine and tell the story of the dry-farmed en gobelet pruned vines this wine comes from. En Gobelet is such a nice complement to a wide variety of fruit with the bright Grenache flavors, earthy Mourvedre and depth of the Syrah and Tannat.
Darren Delmore, National Sales Manager
We're goin' country with a smoked Texan brisket and two magnums with enough fruit and spice to match it: 2013 Miraval Cotes de Provence Rosé and 2004 Two Hands "Deer in Headlights" Barossa Valley Shiraz.
Tyler Elwell, Cellar Master
I’m going to be having Whitcraft Winery 2013 Pinot Noir Santa Ynez Valley Pence Ranch Mt. Eden Clone. It’s young, fresh and acidic. With 12.2 alcohol and it’s light body it’ll complement the variety of fixins on the table.
Chelsea Franchi, Assistant Winemaker
If I had any of these bottles left, my choice for Thanksgiving dinner (or any special dinner, for that matter) would be the Ridge 2011 Monte Bello Chardonnay. With a gorgeous weight and fullness of texture, it is a wine that can certainly be enjoyed on its own before the feast, but drinking it without food seems like a shame. With the beautiful balance it carries itself with, it can certainly pair with turkey and stuffing - and anything else you may find on your table this Thanksgiving. After thinking about this wine, I believe I may have to resupply!
Levi Glenn, Viticulturist
Freisa - an indigenous variety to Piedmonte in Northern Italy, which according to Jancis Robinson is related to Nebbiolo. Aromatically it shows lighter red fruits, such as strawberry and raspberry. On the palate it exhibits more tannin than you would expect due to its light color. The acidity is medium to medium plus. A great accompaniment to a Thanksgiving meal, the acidity cuts through the richer sides, and its inherent juiciness will keep you coming back. Tip: chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to mellow the tannins and accentuate the fruit. A joyful wine for a joyous day.
Robert Haas, Founder
We're having oysters as hors d'oeuvres and traditional roasted turkey for the meal. I would like a dry minerally, chalky, citrusy white for the oysters, such as the Côtes de Tablas Blanc 2012. I prefer the 2012 for this use because the 2013 is more exuberant. I would like a dark rich earthy red wine to go with the turkey, so we're going with the 2003 Panoplie.
Sylvia Montague, Assistant Tasting Room Manager
I am breaking tradition this year and heading to the coast for some seafood and a great ocean view. I am sure there must have been some creatures from the sea served at that first Thanksgiving in the new world (and if not, there should have been!). I will bring along a bottle or two of our fabulous whites, Esprit de Tablas Blanc and/or Viognier, as they are outstanding with everything from crab, lobster, scallops and fish and stand up well to most manner of preparations.
John Morris, Tasting Room Manager
It the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I have no idea what wine we’re going to serve! I can tell you that I’ll be stopping on my way home tonight and making some decisions on the fly. Rather than a traditional Thanksgiving meal, we’ll be serving Thai food, so that changes the game considerably. If turkey and stuffing were going to be front and center, I’d be looking for lighter-bodied reds (think Pinot Noir and Grenache-based blends), Rosé, or full, savory whites, such as the spectacular 2012 Esprit de Tablas Blanc. If I was attending a large gathering, with the attendant danger of Aunt Martha spiking her wine with Fresca (or worse), I’d lean toward something a little easier on the wallet, like the 2013 Patelin de Tablas Blanc, which is really a superb wine at the price point.
As it is, I’ll be looking for off-dry whites for dinner, and maybe open an older Esprit de Beaucastel later in the evening. I’ll let you know which vintage next time.
Madeline VanLierop-Anderson, Lab Specialist
My 2014 Thanksgiving wine selection comes from Jura, France. Jura, a wine region located between Burgundy and Switzerland, is known for its distinct and unusual wines- this bottle certainly falls into a category of it’s own; Champ Divin 2013 Pinot Noir.
Like Tablas Creek, Champ Divin farms their vineyards by both organic and Biodynamic applications making this bottle a unique interest of mine. This Thursday evening I will enjoy this Pinot with a honey cured spiral cut ham with sides of thinly sliced potatoes gratin, fresh green bean casserole, apple cranberry stuffing and my homemade cranberry sauce.
As for a post meal beverage- I plan on opening a bottle of 2002 Delamotte Blanc de Blancs in undaunted faith that the San Francisco 49ers will “get stuffed” in feast- I mean Beast Mode by the reining NFL world champion Seattle Seahawks in their new critically acclaimed Levi stadium. Although my wine is often red, my colors are Green and Blue- GO HAWKS!
As for me?
I'm going to be having dinner at my dad's house, so it sounds like I'll be enjoying some Panoplie. Left to my own devices, I tend toward riesling and Beaujolais, and I try to pick the biggest bottle that I have available. It's a party, after all... and nothing says party like a 3-liter bottle of wine!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.