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What to Drink This Thanksgiving: The Do's and Don'ts

Fri, Dec 02, 22  |  food & wine pairing blog

The holidays are fast approaching, so we interviewed our in-store wine experts for some essential information on the do’s and don’ts of selecting wines for your Thanksgiving feast. Our Certified Sommeliers, Chris Miller, Lisa Schock, and industry veterans Ambrose Havey, Harry Brigham, Tim Reylek share their secrets for the best wine, gift giving, and family recipes etc. to make your Turkey Day something to remember!  Many of the recommended varietals are listed below this short interview. 


What is your go to varietal for Thanksgiving? And in three words or less, why?

Lisa: Nebbiolo and Pinot Gris. Versatile, nuanced and delicious.

Chris: Riesling. Refreshing, ethereal, compelling.

Ambrose: Cotes du Rhone reds. Layered, spicy & rich. Chateauneuf du Pape is my favorite!

Tim: An unoaked or super-balanced Chardonnay (with lots of zip), Sauvignon Blanc or Rose.   Bright, side dish-friendly, palate-cleansing. 


And if you were to drink something more off-the-beaten-path?

Chris: A Riesling or a Pinot Gris from New Zealand, Oregon or Alsace. Delicious. 

Lisa: An elegant, bright, red like a Chinon or a Etna Rosso.

Harry: The distinctive, Cesca Vincent Cabaler Blanco. Completely unexpected. A complex, versatile white Rioja that’s so, so tasty. Or a Red Rioja.

Ambrose: A more complex white with body and flavor, like a Rousanne or well-made more complex CA chardonnay.

Tim: Champagne or a cremant from France, blanc or rose! It goes with so many foods, why save it for just a celebration?


What would you avoid drinking with the feast?

Chris: Beaujolais Nouveau (get a cru Beaujolais instead)

Lisa: White wines that are too light (eg. Vhino Verde)

Tim:  High alcohol reds, because they would overpower the turkey.

Ambrose: Heavily oaked chardonnay, too rich and overpowering.


What about a cocktail or aperitif to start off the festivities?

Chris: Sherry fino or Bourbon drink.

Lisa: A Rye Manhattan.

Harry: A classic cocktail, like The Sidecar.

Tim: Something unique, like a white port & tonic with a rosemary garnish.


And what would you drink after dinner?

Chris: Single malt scotch or superior blend.

Lisa: An ice wine. Lush honeyed sweetness, tempered with searing acidity…the perfect dessert! Or a wonderful Amaro for an stomach-smoothing finish. 

Tim: A Mr Black coffee martini with freshly brewed espresso. Yum!

Ambrose: A Sauternes from Bordeaux, the perfect way to end any meal.


Say you’re a guest at someone’s Thanksgiving feast, what wine would you bring to thank them for all their efforts? Why?

Chris: Rosé champagne or a Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Lisa: Black Button Bourbon Cream. Made with farm fresh NY state milk & boasting other-worldly caramel & vanilla flavors…heavenly.

Harry: A Spiced Spirit. It makes the perfect Hot Toddy to cap off the dinner and soothe your stomach.

Ambrose: Champagne! Or a nice after dinner Port to sip.


Do you have any not-so-secret family recipes, traditions, or tips to share?

Chris: No, they are secret for a reason!

Lisa: Every year we go to my mom’s and she makes her life-changing sausage stuffing. 

Ambrose: If you’re a guest- make sure to tell your host of any allergies – trust me.

Tim: Always remember to acknowledge the things you are most grateful for!

Many of the varietals mentioned are available at a wide variety of price points (see below). With such a breadth of tasty wines to choose from, perhaps you will be inspired to do your own tasting. If so, do let us know which wines YOU like best. You can comment right back here on our blog, on Facebook or in the store.  We are excited to hear your opinions!

– Lisa Schock

By Timothy Reylek

Tags: thanksgiving blog