Every Thanksgiving, my wife and I experience the same crisis. It has nothing to do with who we invite or which guest will sit next to whom, or even what size turkey to buy, but rather what wine to serve.
Yes, in our house, it’s a big deal, mainly because my spouse and I differ on the style of wine to serve during the annual feast. I take a modern approach to wine and food pairings while Cindy likes to take a more traditional approach when it comes to her selections.
In order to keep the peace in the family this year, we decided to employ the advice of a few “neutral” wine experts in Washington, DC, to play referee and keep our Thanksgiving Day wine choices stress free.
Jon Genderson, co-owns and operates Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, a third generation wine shop in northeast DC, near Union Station. He loves Rosé sparkling wines because they work wonders with Thanksgiving dinner, so he has selected the 2009 Mont Ferrant Brut Rosé from Cava, Spain to get the festivities started. This elegant Cava possesses fragrant cranberry and rhubarb aromas leading to creamy, intense, savory middle and a long clean finish. ($20)
Omar Hishmeh is the wine director/sommelier at Bistro Bis restaurant in Washington, DC. He knows everyone’s menu varies considerably on Thanksgiving, so he likes wines that pair well with fall seasonings and flavors. For example, he thinks that the 2008 Weingut Glatzer St. Laurent is reminiscent of an earthy, spicy Burgundy from a ripe vintage. On the nose, dark fruit spice and wet earth dominate. The palate shows a wonderful richness of fruit balanced with minerality and soft tannic structure. According to Omar, “This is a whole turkey dinner in a bottle.” ($20)
Ben Giliberti is the former wine writer for the Washington Post and current Director of Wine Education at Calvert Woodley Fine Wines and Spirits in DC. Paring wines with Thanksgiving doesn’t present a conundrum in Ben’s house, since their traditional white choice is Caymus Conundrum from California. The multi-grape blend (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Viognier and Semillon) is ideal because it harmonizes well with both the bird and the trimmings. He likes the juicy, honeysuckle and citrus fruit and noticeable sweetness on the finish that sends a big wake up call to the palate after every sip. ($18)
Ben is also a big fan of employing a good Beaujolais-Villages on Thanksgiving because it is a red wine that really captures the harvest. Because 2009 is the best Beaujolais vintage anyone can remember, Ben is going to open a 2009 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages this year, because, as Ben notes, “He (Duboeuf) is the King of Beaujolais and always will be, for me.” ($12)
Mark Wessels, is the managing director at MacArthur Beverages in Washington, DC. His palate usually tends towards old-world styles, but this Thanksgiving, Mark steps outside his traditional choices with two domestic selections, including the 2009 Girard Chardonnay from the Russian River region in Sonoma, California. This chardonnay has a nice body to go with the Thanksgiving meal, but it is not too oaky. It works very with the turkey as well as the trimmings. ($19)
Mark also thinks Pinot Noir is a versatile wine, and it is especially delicious when it’s from the terrific 2008 vintage in Willamette Valley, Oregon. The 2008 Holloran ‘LaChenaie’ Pinot Noir from the Eola-Amity Hills AVA is a well balance and stylish Pinot with medium dark cherry fruit and good balance, which means that this wine will work perfectly with the traditional turkey dinner. ($20)