Posted November 9, 2011

Great American Wines for a Great American Holiday

Eat + Drink

A guest post from Master Sommelier, Emily Wines.

Thanksgiving is almost here. This year, I plan to celebrate the national holiday by drinking my favorite wines from all over the country.

Did you know wine is made in all 50 states? I should point out, however, that grapes are only grown in 48 of them. Vines don’t do so well in the extreme climate of Alaska, for example. Hawaii, oddly enough, makes quite a bit of wine. They grow grapes in the cool microclimates on the mountainside and also make wine from pineapples. (Pineapple wine, by the way, tastes exactly like you would expect it to. Enough said.)

Sparkling wine is a must for every special meal, and many of them come from California. However, one of the best I have tasted is from New Mexico. It’s from Gruet Winery and is made in the same style as Champagne. Their Brut is dry and crisp; I love it with salty foods like the chips and dip my aunt always puts out before dinner. Oregon’s Argyle Winery makes a beautiful rose from Pinot Noir that is rich enough to drink throughout the whole meal, if you are so inclined. Both of these are a fantastic value.

The most famous winery in Idaho is Snake River. Yes, you heard me right – Idaho. The cool climate here is perfect for high-acid wines like Riesling. Theirs is juicy and almost dry … a bit like biting into a Fuji apple. I love it with Waldorf salad, in particular. Riesling is also really, really good in New York. Dr. Konstantin Frank is one of the older wineries in upstate New York and they make a bone-dry Riesling that is so fresh and crisp that it gives me chills.

Chardonnay is certainly widely planted, but one without too much oak is the best fit for the big Thanksgiving meal. (Save those oaky Chardonnays for grilled and smoked foods.) Patz & Hall Winery makes a Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast of California that is gorgeous. The cooler, coastal climate preserves its crisp acidity and brings out tree-fruit flavors, like pear and apple.

White Hall Vineyards in central Virginia is my go-to for rosé wines. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, their Vin Gris is slightly fruity and has a palate full of light spices, cherries and strawberries. I think it goes really well with turkey dinner and cranberries. Oregon Pinot Noir is another perfect fit for Thanksgiving dinner. The wines are woodsy and smoky with bright cranberry and cherry flavors. Also on my table every year is Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir or Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir. In fact, every time I drink these wines I think of the big turkey feast even if it is July.

Bigger, bolder reds may not be the perfect fit for Thanksgiving dinner, but if that’s you want to drink who am I to tell you it won’t be delicious? Washington State is a great source for velvety, winter reds. I love Syrah and Merlot from Walla Vineyards. For a great value, try Charles Smith “Boom-Boom” Syrah. It is peppery and bold. For a sublime wine experience, go to Gramercy Cellars Syrah. This wine is loaded with dense black fruit, peppercorn, smoke, spice and bacon flavors. (Yes, really. Bacon!) Of course, California is also a prime source for big reds too, and I love Cabernet from Heitz Cellar. When most winemakers are coming out with Cabernet that is full throttle and massive, these are rife with finesse and balance.

If you are thirsty for more wine when the pumpkin pie comes around, look to Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia for a perfect Thanksgiving dessert wine. They make a Malvaxia Passito that is full of dense golden raisin and honeyed almond flavors – perfect on its own if you are still too full from dinner.

Happy feasting (and sipping), everyone!

~ Emily

Updated April 20, 2016


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