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Thanksgiving is one of the holidays for which I usually spend a great deal of time selecting the wines. The holiday offers a plethora of food choices, which makes wine selection the ultimate challenge. It has to please everyone and fit with everything at a traditional turkey dinner.

This year I am embracing an idea I was given many years ago by a fellow wine writer: After 25 years of attempting to be the hero at the family Thanksgiving dinner with the perfect pairing, he finally got smart and started leaving the choice to the guests.

This Thanksgiving I’m offering my family and friends an opportunity to appease their palates on their own. Rather than selecting the wines for each guest before the meal, I will place several different wines on the table, each a good pairing option in different styles and colors. And let my guests try the wines based on their preference, with the opportunity to explore different foods and flavors.

If you worry that certain wines will be emptied first, buy several backup bottles but have fun and make it casual declaring the first bottle emptied to be the best pairing of the meal. Also, don’t be concerned with passing a bottle around the table. Since most of us already pass around the food casually on Thanksgiving, why not pass the wine?

With this idea in mind, I have selected wines that are confirmed matches with the array of flavors from turkey and cranberry sauce to sweet potatoes.

Dry white wines with refreshing acidity — sauvignon blanc, dry Riesling, pinot gris, chardonnay, chenin blanc, viognier and albarino — are ideal to pair with almost any menu item.

Off-dry wines such as Gewurztraminer and Off Dry Riesling as good options as well. But avoid wines with cloying sweetness.

For a Thanksgiving food friendly red, pick one low in tannins to not overwhelm the array of flavors. Pinot noir, gamay and merlot are good bets.


  • 2015 Cline Viognier, California (about $14 retail)
  • 2015 Charles and Charles Riesling, Washington (about $15 retail)
  • 20115 Louis Jadot Beaujolais Village Gamay, France (about $16 retail)


  • 2015¬†Stoller Dundee Hills Chardonnay, Oregon (about $22 retail)
  • 2013 Hugel Gewurztraminer, France (about $29 retail)
  • 2015 Anne Amie Cuvee A Pinot Noir, Oregon (about $25 retail)