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It’s that time of year when questions from my friends and readers shift from general queries regarding storing, buying and serving tips to requests for specific wines to buy. With Thanksgiving just a week away and Christmas around the corner, most people are looking for direction on the best wines for the occasion.

Thanksgiving, as with most holidays, brings specific challenges when it comes to selecting the right wine.

The first is the pressure to accommodate all guests’ beverage preferences, from the soda and tea drinkers to the beer and liquor fans who are likely to toast the holiday with a glass of wine.

My best advice:

Keep it simple. We sometimes enjoy adventure in our wine selections for a traditional holiday and menu such as Thanksgiving, but it’s best to stick to reliable white and red wines that are known as crowd pleasers. Choose wines that are food friendly and generally familiar. This is no time to serve something that calls for a pronunciation guide and geography lesson.

Save that treasured bottle for another time. This is not the time to delve into your wine cellar for your prized bottle of wine. Thanksgiving is generally the only time of year entire families get together, intermingling a gamut of tastes and preferences. Save your special bottles for times when you know each and every guest will truly appreciate them, and they won’t be overpowered by the seemingly limitless array of food offerings.

Wine doesn’t need to be stressful. While your culinary creations for the holiday may demand hours or even days of preparation, the wine will simply be ready when your guests arrive. Many retail stores have started offering specials, so there’s no need to wait until the last minute. Buy early so you can check this off your “to do” list and have one less errand nearing the Thanksgiving celebration.


  • 2014 Matchbook Chardonnay, California (about $13 retail)
  • 2013 Wild Horse Pinot Grigio, California (about $15 retail)
  • 2014 Force of Nature Red Blend, California (about $16 retail)
  • 2014 Hess Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $17 retail)
  • 2014 Bogle Essential Red, California (about $12 retail)


  • 2012 Alta Maria Santa Maria Pinot Noir, California (about $31 retail)
  • 2013 Keenan Merlot, California (about $33 retail)
  • 2013 Presqu’ile Chardonnay, California (about $34 retail)