So forget all that stuff about proper pairings and $50 bottles of 94-point wine. Thanksgiving is not about wine snobbery, but about having a good time and sharing food and wine and memories with your family and friends.
This year’s suggestions are after the jump:
• Those grocery store pinot noirs that don’t taste like pinot noir. Most of the year, they drive me crazy because so many are made with as little pinot as the law allows. But for Thanksgiving, where a soft, fruity red wine is ideal, they work because they’re not traditional pinot. Mark West ($10, purchased) is always reliable, but also consider Steelhead ($15, sample) and Pennywise ($13, sample).
• Go Gascon, a region of France that produces quality cheap white blends made with grapes most of us have never heard of. These wines come in two styles: I prefer the Domaine du Tariquet ($10, purchased) and Domaine Artigaux ($10, purchased) approach, with a distinctive white grape-iness. But more citrusy wines like Domaine Guillaman ($10, sample) and Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum ($11, purchased) are equally fine values.
• Break out the bubbly. Sometimes, even as much as I love sparkling wine, I’m surprised by how much quality bubbly is out there, and especially from places not associated with it. Las Perdices ($18, sample) is an Argentine wine sort of French in style, with some yeast and caramel. Graham Beck Brut Rose ($20, sample) from South Africa is fresh, crisp, and very lively, with lots of berries.
• Regional wine -- and not just because this is the end of DrinkLocalWine’s Regional Wine Week. Rather, because (as my pal Richard Leahy notes), Thanksgiving has been about local food for almost 400 years – so why not local wine? Wagner Riesling Select ($13, sample), from New York’s Finger Lakes, manages the difficult feat of being sweet and wine-like. And don’t worry if you can’t find the Wagner in your area; just try something local.
More about Thanksgiving wine:
• Thanksgiving wine 2011
• Expensive wine 44: Patricia Green Yamhill County Pinot Noir 2010
• Wine review: Anne Amie Cuvee A Amrita 2011
• Wine of the week: Robert Hall Rhone de Robles 2011