Thanksgiving—easiest of wine times.
Thanksgiving is enjoyed with people you know and love. Everyone expects a good time: hearty laughter amid hearty repast. You can’t go wrong. Buy anything and it will be fine.
Wine is wonderfully forgiving—occasion and people mean more than the pour. The experience will be good, even if you discover later some haughty wine critic believes your selection was wrong, so very wrong.
That understood, turkey-day strategies:
Start with nice, light, lower alcohol during appetizers. Sparkling is splendid–immediately fosters festive mood. White also is right. Riesling rules. Rosé is OK, too. If Aunt Mildred isn’t into real wine, have cheap, cold bottle of white zin on hand.
Pour a quality red for turkey gobbling. Let everyone know it is special. Pinot noir is default. Spend north of $30 to impress your wine snob friends/relatives, or go value (see recommendations). Show the bottle; the folks you strive to impress will get it. They also will want a second pour.
As the feast grows festive and Uncle George grows gregariously more garrulous, pop corks and unscrew screw caps on value wines (under $12). Light whites, full-bodied whites, rosés, light reds, heavy reds. Open them all if the party is large and palates eclectic.
Finishing flourish: Vintage Port. Madeira. Sauternes. Use small glasses; a little of these high-dollar dollops go a long way.
Recap: bubbly beginning, special when main meal starts, strong and memorable at the end; economy choices fill in the cracks. Enforce designated driver rules.
• Big House House White 2010. Citrus & honeysuckle; vibrant mouth; key lime, sherbet; distinctive white grape parade; unique, delicious. $10
• The Crusher Wilson Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008. Spice, black cherry, plum, blueberry, bacon; earthy, powerful, full body; excellent value. $14
• Daedalus Jezebel Pinot Noir 2009. Light color, body; nice nose; modest cherry, berry; tart, light oak, silky, soft tannin; Oregon value. $20
• Leacock’s Madeira Malmsey. Wonderfully rich, sweet dessert wine; honey finish. $26