Food, Los AngelesThe Best American Wines for Thanksgiving

thanksgiving wines

Bird, check. Veggies, check. This year’s “It” pie, check. Wine … Marijke?

Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year or being a gracious guest, you may find yourself staring blankly at a wall of wines, trying to decide which (affordable) bottle will be most delicious with a turkey dinner. Well, stare no more. I’ve enlisted my dear friend and sommelier Marijke van Niekerk @lawinegal to provide her top recommendations for Thanksgiving.

The theme is “classic gourmet” with a deep Southern twist, based on the menu I curated from the growing stack of Bon Appétit magazines under my coffee table and a borderline obsessive recipe-search habit. Marijke has decided on an all-American wine selection because, “Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to explore the United States’ fantastic, world-class wines.” Very well, then! Here’s the lineup:


Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Marijke says: “I’d choose an off-dry Riesling to complement the spice in the dish and to wake up the palate in style. The Rieslings from the Finger Lakes in upstate New York are a perfect choice for this; they’re delicate, spicy and deliciously complex (and great value).”

Try Red Newt Cellars 2011 Circle Riesling (Finger Lakes), approximately $12.99, or Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars Semi Dry Riesling 2012, $14.99.

Entrée & Sides

Herb-Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Sauce
Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Fennel
Classic Green Bean Casserole (from scratch)
Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

Marijke says: “I’d move west to Napa and pick a rich chardonnay … The mineral notes in the wine will be enhanced by the bold seasoning of the dish, while the wine’s long, balanced finish is big enough to support the rich turkey. If a red is preferred, a medium-bodied pinot noir … will complement the dish delicately.”

Try Cakebread Cellars 2011 or 2012 Chardonnay, approximately $40; Trefethen Family 2012 Pinot Noir, $45; or the 2010 Robert Mondavi Winery Pinot Noir, about $20.

Bruléed Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie (this year’s “It” pie)
Apple Pie with Spiced Apple-Caramel Sauce

Marijke says: “I’d move south and go with a decadent, late harvest treat from Paso Robles. You can’t go wrong with the intense, honeyed flavor of the 2011 J. Lohr Late Harvest White Riesling, approximately $25, to highlight the many layers of flavor of the bruléed bourbon-maple pumpkin pie and the deep caramel of the apple pie. If a red is preferred, the bold Adelaida “The Don” Port 2008, approximately $35, is a delicious choice. Notice how the ripe, dark fruit flavors complement the rich fruit of the dessert …”

There you have it! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go finish my chardonnay and give thanks for sommeliers like Marijke. Happy Thanksgiving!

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