The Post and Courier asked two local sommeliers, Cappie Peete of McCrady's and Patrick Emerson of Communion Wine Club, to each recommend three wines for a classic Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and dressing along with the variety of side dishes that usually come to the table. We asked for white and rose options for under $15 and a red for under $20.
Choosing wine for Thanksgiving Day dinner can be very difficult. There are many different dishes with a variety of flavors and textures, and you are trying to suit many people's tastes that can vary greatly.
It is up to you to decide if you can find one all-purpose wine to work through the whole meal or if you would prefer to have a few options so that everyone can mix and match their favorites.
Generally speaking, it is a good idea to go with lighter, livelier wines that help brighten up the heavy meal. Wines that are full-bodied with rich fruit and oak can overpower the food and leave you feeling more tired and full than you need to feel. Think how great it would be to feel refreshed from the wine after a meal like that.
Something else to consider is that you want easy-drinking, uncomplicated and crowd-pleasing wines. This is not the time to pull out that high-end old wine sure to impress your one wine savvy relative.
It's good to take notice of the alcohol levels. Lower alcohol wines (13 percent and below) tend to be much more versatile with food.
Guild Lot No. 6 (85% Pinot Gris/15% Riesling) Columbia Valley, Oregon, 2011
$14 at Crushed
Guild Winemakers is a co-op of four Portland, Ore., winemakers. This wine offers aromatics that jump out of the glass with tropical fruits, citrus blossoms and golden delicious apples. I chose this wine because it is incredibly drinkable on its own but also will be versatile with many different dishes. The fruity nature of the wine makes it a great option for any salty appetizer and the elevated acidity makes it work with heavier side dishes or even hearty meat dishes.
Villa Wolf, Pinot Noir, Pfalz-Germany, 2012
$13.99 at Bottles
This is a whimsical rose coming from the Dr. Loosen portfolio. It has a touch of a residual sugar, which opens up this wine's possibilities for food pairings. Do not be afraid of sweet wines. Completely dry whites should be avoided on Thanksgiving. The bright red fruits, rosy florality and slight sweetness make this wine a possible match with cranberries, perhaps a spicy stuffing, dark or light meat turkey, or even trifle for dessert. Roses are a great option to consider because they can bridge the gap with dishes that seem too heavy for a white wine and yet too delicate for a red.
Cantina del Pino, Dolcetto d'Alba, Piedmont-Italy, 2011
$18 at Crushed and Bottles
Dolcetto is a grape from the Piedmont region in northern Italy. It offers aromatics of juicy raspberries and blackberries, subtle hints of black pepper and dried herbs. This wine is chock-full of bright summery fruit, soft tannins, and a good level of acidity. It has the jammy nature of a Zinfandel without the weight and alcohol. This is a crowd-pleasing red wine for the smooth texture and finesse alone. As for the food, this will work for the person that refuses to have white or rose all day. The acidity allows it to not overpower the more delicate dishes and luscious fruit makes it perfect for even the richest meat dishes.
Carolyn “Cappie” Peete, 26, is beverage director of McCrady's.
Peete, a native of Greensboro, N.C., was studying hotel, restaurant and tourism management at the University of South Carolina when she realized she had a particular passion for food and wine.
After graduation, she focused on wine, becoming certified through the Court of Master Sommeliers in December 2009. In 2013, she became the youngest Advanced Sommelier in Charleston.
Selecting wine to pair well with the traditional Thanksgiving meal can be quite challenging. There are so many different types of food on one plate that it is hard to know where to start.
Turkey's flavor is subtle and like a blank canvas, but things get a little tricky as you pile on sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans and chestnut stuffing.
My general rule for successful food and wine pairing is to consider the textures and weight of the dish in total, beyond concentrating on the main protein.
For turkey day, I would recommend a bigger style white or a lighter style red; something that falls in the middle of the “weight” spectrum.
The time of day when you plan to eat your meal also makes a difference. If you eat at noon, I'd consider a lighter wine (sparkling, dry Riesling, or rose) than if you eat at 8 p.m. (perhaps an Oregon Pinot Noir, or a French Burgundy, Italian Chianti Classico, or Nebbiolo from Barolo).
Most importantly, have some fun in choosing the wine to enjoy. Maybe pick something that your family is not familiar with to make a lasting impression. Magnums (1.5 liters) are also a really great way to get attention for a larger gathering.
Toso Sparkling Wine, Mendoza, Argentina Nv (Non-Vintage)
$9.99 at Bottles
I am a big fan of kicking things off with some bubbles to put you in the mood. Sparkling wine, in general, also is a fantastic wine to pair with food. This sparkler made from 100 percent Chardonnay is one of the best value wines on the market. Generous fruit with a hint of residual sugar makes this wine a great way to celebrate the holiday.
Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa 2011
$12.99 at Bottles
Known as “Steen” in South Africa, Chenin Blanc is best known to make the wines of Vouvray in the Loire Valley. I love this varietal for its citrus complexity and mineral tones. A rich white wine with tons of complexity, it has a tremendous creamy texture that will pair with turkey and all the fixin's perfectly.
Valle Dell'acate, Il Frappato, Vittoria, Sicily 2012
$19.99 at Southern Seasons
Sicily is high on my hot list of wine regions right now, having been a simple bulk juice player for many years. Frappato is a lighter style red that works as a great alternative for lovers of Pinot Noir. This wine is fascinating. Initially on tasting, there is a silky sweet, cherry fruit impact on the palate and you think that is all that is going on. Don't be lulled! Right at the back end, there is an earthy twist with some tannin. Loaded with complexity.
Patrick Emerson is the founder of Communion Wine Club LLC, a wine and beverage consultancy for new and existing restaurants nationwide.
A native of England, Emerson has attained his Advanced Sommelier certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers and is a Certified Specialist of Wine.
He was wine and beverage director for Maverick Southern Kitchens (SNOB, High Cotton, Old Village Post House) from 2004-12 and is a member of the board for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival.