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These Wines Will Elevate Thanksgiving Dinner

Barrels of wine at Domaine Barraud, Maconnais, Burgundy, France. Credit: Sue Style

Barrels of wine at Domaine Barraud, Maconnais, Burgundy, France. Credit: Sue Style

With such a blizzard of flavors on offer at the Thanksgiving table and so many different tastes to cater to among family and friends, a creative approach to wine selection is required. You need wines that are not too fancy price-wise, nor too hulking taste-wise, with enough interest and originality to make them a bit of a talking point.

Here is a totally Eurocentric selection of wines that I’ve found especially convincing on my travels this year. They’re the kind that will not be too bossy or overpowering with a bland meat like turkey, but with enough character to look all those trimmings squarely in the eye. It’s a good idea to provide both white and red wines, to cover all tastes. Or you could be very brave and go for just one delicious sparkling wine that will take you seamlessly through the meal from appetizer to dessert.

Check Wine Searcher for your nearest stockists.

White wines

Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile, F. E. Trimbach, Ribeauvillé, Alsace, France

Cuvee Frederic Emile by Trimbach. Credit: Sue Style

Cuvee Frederic Emile by Trimbach. Credit: Sue Style

Iconic is an overworked word, but Riesling Frédéric Emile for once merits the moniker. A deep golden wine with fugitive elderflower-linden blossom aromas, always a little lean (true to the house style) but with the suggestion of gorgeous curves to come, it’s a perfect match for white meats, rich sauces and sweet-spicy pumpkin flavors.

Crémant d’Alsace Grand Millésime 2009, René Muré, Rouffach, Alsace, France

Alsace is producing some fine Crémants these days, the best of which are a far better bet than regular, non-vintage Champagne and at a fraction of the price. This vintage Crémant, from a blend of Chardonnay and Riesling, is redolent with orangey-peach aromas and would take you gracefully through the meal from start to finish.

Pouilly Fuissé En Buland, Domaine Barraud, Vergisson, France

The Mâconnais region of southern Burgundy offers some fine drinking at distinctly non-Burgundian prices. This one, from 78-year-old Chardonnay vines growing beneath the landmark Rock of Solutré, is crisp and elegant with just a suspicion of oak so as not to be overpowering.

El Quintà Garnatxa Blanca, Barbara Forés, Terra Alta, Catalonia, Spain

Seventy percent of the total world plantation of white Garnatxa is found in the Terra Alta region of Catalonia, where it performs to perfection. This elegant, lightly oaked one from 50- 60-year-old vines has a fresh, expressive minerality that would work wonders with a parade of rich dishes.

Yvorne Grand Cru, Collection Chandra Kurt, Bolle et Cie, Morges, Switzerland

Chasselas Chandra Kurt Selection by Bolle. Credit: Sue Style

Chasselas Chandra Kurt Selection by Bolle. Credit: Sue Style

In Switzerland’s canton Vaud, on the steep, sun-baked terraces that plunge down to Lake Geneva, they do wonders with Chasselas, scorned by most of the world as a rather uninteresting table grape. Zurich-based wine writer and consultant Chandra Kurt has worked with the Bolle winery to make this prize-winning wine with firm structure and citrusy-honeyed tones, fine with this seasonal menu.

Red wines

Tschuppen Spätburgunder, Hanspeter Ziereisen, Efringen-Kirchen, Baden, Germany

A self-taught winemaker, Hanspeter Ziereisen swept the board at a recent international Pinot Noir taste-off in London, with two of his wines in the top 10. Tschuppen, the lightest of his three Pinots, captures all the magic of the grape and is just the right weight for a Thanksgiving menu.

Gamay de Chamoson, Cave du Vidomne, Saint-Pierre-de-Clages, Valais, Switzerland

The Swiss are about the only people to do anything interesting with the Gamay grape outside of Beaujolais. This one, which took away first prize in this year’s Grand Prix du Vin Suisse in the Gamay category, is full of raspberry fruit flavors with nicely balanced acidity to cut the richness of the meal.

Beaujolais Villages, Domaine des Terres Dorées, Charnay, Beaujolais, France

Jean-Paul Brun makes highly prized, exciting, long-lived wines down at the southern end of Beaujolais. His Beaujolais Villages is an especial pleasure, bright, lively and keenly priced — serve it slightly chilled to bring out its zesty best.

Barbera d’Alba, Cascina Fontana, Perno, Piedmont, Italy

Barbera ticks all the right boxes for a turkey feast: bright, fresh, not too alcoholic and loaded with red fruit flavors. If you can track down a bottle of Mario Fontana’s (produced in tiny quantities and dismayingly quick to sell out), it may just make your day.

Tocat de l'Ala by Coca i Fito and Roig Parals. Credit: Sue Style

Tocat de l’Ala by Coca i Fito and Roig Parals. Credit: Sue Style

Tocat de l’Ala, Coca i Fitó and Roig Parals, Empordà, Catalonia,Spain

A crunchy, crazy blend (the name means “daft in the head”) of old-vine Garnatxa and Carinyena, made in a joint venture between two Catalan wineries. Big but not over weighty and bursting with cranberry flavors — what could be more appropriate?

Top photo: Barrels of wine at Domaine Barraud, Maconnais, Burgundy, France. Credit: Sue Style



Zester Daily contributor Sue Style lives in Alsace, France, close to the German and Swiss borders. She's the author of nine books on subjects ranging from Mexican food to the food and wines of Alsace and Switzerland. Her most recent, published in October 2011, is "Cheese: Slices of Swiss Culture." Her website is suestyle.com.

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