Thanksgiving is a holiday traditionally associated with massive quantities of delicious food. Indeed, one could argue that the food is the point of the entire holiday, rather than actually giving thanks for the blessings we have received over the course of the year. With such a vast array of food available, it can be a daunting task to come up with wine pairings that will be suitable for a meal. Not to mention the fact that within a family and guests, there can be a multitude of different palate preferences sitting around the dinner table, which can also make things difficult. Different dietary restrictions, whether medical or self-imposed, can also make it a struggle to keep everyone happy around the dinner table. But, never fear, the Wine Monk is here! I have created a carefully curated list of eight wines of varying styles that should pair with just about any set of food you are planning on serving on Thanksgiving day; whether vegan or carnivorous. These eight wines will also appeal to a wide variety of palates, so finding one or two bottles on this list to keep everyone happy around the dinner table should be fairly easy, thus allowing for that inevitable family fight of why you aren’t providing grandchildren to take precedence instead.
Roussanne is a lesser-known Rhone varietal that has potential in Arizona, and it is often overshadowed by its northern cousin, Viognier. (The Roussanne has a penchant for sailing through the late frosts we get here without any problem, putting it at an advantage over other varietals.) Colibri Vineyard, located in the shadow of the Chricahua Mountains, nestled between the towns of Portal and Paradise, provided the grapes for the 2015 Colibri Roussanne by Page Springs Cellars. Melissa Gagliardi and Eric Glomski were the wine makers. This white wine opens on the nose with the classic aromas of white pepper that I often associate with this vineyard. Additional notes of apricot, Meyer lemon, and grassy herbaceous notes emerge on the nose of this vintage, intermingling with pears, flint, white peaches, and white tea on the palate. The finish of this wine lasts for 32 seconds. The high acidity and medium body of this wine will pair with most of your Thanksgiving meal, as this flavor profile is very versatile; even with vegan Tofurky as your centerpiece. A bottle of this will run you $28 at the Page Springs Cellars tasting room in Cornville.
Seyval Blanc is a member of a special group of varietals known as American Hybrids–grapes which resulted from a cross from European varietals and indigenous American species; these grapes are often more resilient in the face of cold weather. The 2016 Steven Seyval is a medium-bodied dry white wine was sourced from D.A. Ranch Vineyards, near Page Springs. It was also fermented in 50% French Oak. The nose of this wine opens with aromas of vanilla, apricots, lemon meringue, and toasted marshmallows. On the palate, the Steven Seyval proves to be a medium-bodied white which opens with intense citrus notes, intermingling with pear, limestone, white pepper, and apricot, with a finish that lasts for 48 seconds. You can grab a bottle of this wine at the Chateau Tumbleweed tasting room for $24.
Semi-sweet rose wines have often been maligned of late with the resurgence in popularity of dry, French-style vintages, but I believe they still have their place at the table. The NV Rosato, made from 100% Syrah sourced from Dragoon Mountain Vineyards, is probably the best wine to be found in the tasting room at Oak Creek Vineyards in Cornville. The nose of this dark-colored rose opens with aromas of mint, rose, red currant, and strawberry, intermingling with just a hint of cherry. On the palate, this vintage has notes of cherry, red currant, mint, strawberry, and limestone The finish lasts for 34 seconds, and this wine has about 1-2% residual sugar which provides a bit of a tart sweetness on the palate as well, intermingling with medium acidity. This wine will go well with honey-baked ham, or strawberry-themed desserts on your Thanksgiving table.
Nebbiolo, as I mentioned last month, is a rich and supple grape from the Piedmont in Northern Italy. However, here in Arizona, we do things that nobody in Italy would dream of: we make it into a rosé. The 2015 Lei Li Nebbiolo Rosé from Caduceus Cellars is sourced from the Elephante block vineyard, here in the Verde Valley. Handpicked, this wine was whole cluster pressed and aged in stainless steel and oak puncheons. The nose of this salmon-colored rosé opens with notes of white peach, grapefruit, watermelon, and herbs growing around water. On the palate, thirst-quenching acidity intermingles with pomelo, peach, mint, rosemary, and limestone, with subtle hints of black pepper on a finish that lasts for 42 seconds. This wine will make a fine centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table, at $40.
Sangiovese, the main grape of Tuscany, is arguably the most food-friendly grape in the world; it’s a very good thing that this grape does so well in Arizona. Wines made from this grape will pair with a wide variety of food, and the 2016 Sangiovese from Javelina Leap, sourced from Carlson Creek Vineyard in Willcox, is no exception. The nose opens with rich earthy notes, bright cherry, a little bit of rosehips, vanilla, and sandalwood. On the palate, this wine opens with notes of cherry, raspberry, and roses, intermingling with earth, anise, spice, and petrichor, with a light load of leathery tannins. The finish of this wine lasts for 45 seconds. This medium-bodied, high acidity red wine will pair with anything and everything on your Thanksgiving table—that is the miracle of Sangiovese. A bottle of this Sangiovese will run $32 at the Javelina Leap tasting rooms in Cornville or Sedona.
Cabernet Sauvignon is not a good wine to pair with Thanksgiving meals, as it is too bold and too tannic. Lovers of Cabernet, however, will adore this wine as it has many characteristics reminiscent of their beloved, but is lighter and more thanksgiving-friendly. Like Cabernet, Carménère is a Bordeaux varietal, that was lost from Bordeaux and rediscovered growing in Chile. Grown in Paulden, the 2015 Carménère (Barrel Select) from Del Rio Springs Vineyard was made at the Aridus wine-making facility in Willcox. This full-bodied red wine is a rich sensory experience on both the nose and palate. Rich aromas of tobacco, bright red fruit, and violets emerge on the palate, intermingling with fertile earth. The palate is a similar satisfying flavor explosion of complexity, with notes of cedar, tobacco, cherry, raspberry, earth, and spices, with a lingering finish that lasts for 53 seconds. This wine will be a bit more difficult to find, but bottles can be found at Plaza Liquor Deli in Prescott for $40, along with the Del Rio Springs tasting room which can be visited by appointment. This will pair well with the meat and roasted vegetable portions of your Thanksgiving meal.
Vidal Blanc, like Seyval Blanc, is an American Hybrid varietal. The 2016 Vidal Blanc from Page Springs Cellars was sourced from the only vineyard that grows this varietal in the whole state: Bruzzi Vineyard, near the small town of Young in Gila County, along the Mogollon Rim. This off-dry white is very reminiscent of Vouvray to me. The nose opens with notes of bright pear, stone-fruit, quince, lemon meringue, and toasted sugar. On the palate, this light-bodied semi-sweet white wine has notes of roasted pear, caramelized sugar, creamy papaya, and apple, and a bit of creamy texture on the finish, which lasts for 23 seconds. This wine, while off-dry, is not super sweet and will be a good pairing for desserts on your Thanksgiving table. A bottle of this wine will cost you $29 in the Page Springs tasting room.
Verdhelo is a grape that has a special place in the hearts of many who search for the perfect dessert wine, as it is one of the four main grapes used to make Madeira. The NV Late Harvest Verdhelo from Passion Cellars, made by Jason Domanico is a nice homage to the classical late harvest wines of Spain and Portugal. The nose of this wine opens with rich tropical fruits: mango, pineapple, and papaya, intermingling with notes of vanilla, anise, caramelized sugar, and cilantro. On the palate, this golden dessert wine tastes of vanilla, honeysuckle, mango, melon, caramelized sugar, and starfruit. The finish of this wine is slightly creamy, intermingling with a food-friendly acidity, lasting about 45 seconds. This wine strikes a balance between sweet and dry, making it the perfect companion for pumpkin or pecan pie. You can acquire this wine for $20 at the Passion Cellars tasting room in Jerome.
There you have it guys! A nice, well-curated collection of wines to make your Thanksgiving (or any other holiday dinner) a success! Happy Holidays!