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[Photo: A Thanksgiving table decadently set / Credit: AlphaTangoBravo]

Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Beaujolais Nouveau are often the wines suggested for pairing with a traditional Thanksgiving feast. These are good suggestions, both for their comfort level in pairing with a wide variety of foods and the value that these wines usually present. I have enjoyed many meals accompanied by these wines, both from the United States and from across the world, but this year I wanted to provide a few more wide-ranging and possibly less well-known suggestions. Conscious of the general economy and the expenses that seem to explode for families at this time of the year, I am restricting my suggestions to wines under $20 that will provide value as well as interest and new experience.

A good rule of thumb is to feature both reds and whites, as it helps to match the variety of dishes sure to fill your table as well as help match the varied tastes of your guests.  This year, I offer you two whites, one red, one rosé and a sparkling to consider. These wines come from South Africa, Argentina and the United States and offer a variety of flavor profiles, yet are all what I would consider young wines that may be purchased at a value.

From the United States, I recommend the Gruet Blanc de Noirs from New Mexico. This is a wonderfully consistent sparkling wine in the champagne method with a lot of berry flavors. This is a wine that can open a dinner, paired with charcuterie or simple appetizers or by itself, yet it has touches of yeast and lemon that would make it pair well with a lighter dessert as well. You can find it online or in most liquor stores for the $15 to $18 range.

From Argentina I picked both a rosé and a white. The rosé is an interesting Crios de Susana Balbo Rose of Malbec. This beautiful rose-colored wine will pair wonderfully with any spicy or ham elements in your dinner as well as being an excellent alternative to those guests whose experience and past tastes may have limited them to White Zin and the like. It has a strong berry and cherry component, but one with enough crispness and a touch of cranberry to offset the sweet. This is a nice value, usually available well under $15.

The white is a Michel Torino Cuma Torrontes. Torrontes is an aromatic grape that comes across strongly floral much like a muscat but with a nice acidic bite and a refreshing finish. There are definite peach notes as well as touches of rose and flowers, but also just enough lemon flavor and acid to really balance. This wine will be great with your fresh vegetables and turkey and is a great value that can usually be found between $15 and $20.

South Africa provided two wines as well, both from the Badenhurst vineyards. The white, Secateurs Chenin Blanc is a refreshing mountain slope wine with high minerality and aromas and flavors of honey and orange. Dry but still full-bodied, this wine will pair well with goat cheese or creamy mashed potatoes and vegetable casseroles. Also from Secateurs is the Red Blend, a mix of Shiraz, Cinsault, Cab Sauv and Grenache. This is a very aromatic blend with lots of spice and dark red berry flavor, but with medium tannins and a nice finish. Aged just over a year in oak, it provides complexity, but still enough freshness to enjoy with full flavored foods, such as a sausage stuffing. Both Secatuer wines are commonly available in the $15-$20 range. 

While putting this list together I wanted to keep in mind a few of the traditional dishes that grace my family's table. These are common dishes that I imagine a frequent Thanksgiving guests across the country and I think that these can help to inform the choice for wines. The dishes that I think of for my family's Thanksgiving feast are garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole with ham and onions, sausage stuffing, and candied yams. Turkey and ham are both present, but preparations year to year vary, depending on who is cooking and what cookbook they most recently read.

Keep in mind other beverages that often go well with the dinner, for the non-alcoholic pick a sparkling or spiced apple cider and there is always someone who just wants beer. I usually pick a nice light wheat beer like Hoegaarden and something a little heavier, lately a scotch ale like Old Chub from Oscar Blues. Above all, provide a selection—don't try and pair just to the main course—and explore new wineries and regions. There are a lot of great flavors out there to find, usually at a reasonable price.


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