Four Types Of Wine To Save Thanksgiving

Four Types Of Wine To Save Thanksgiving

It’s almost that time of year again—the six straight weeks where you’re forced to eat your weight in roasted birds, imbibe alcohol nightly at countless holiday parties, don ugly sweaters, cut construction paper into various festive shapes, and try to stay sane while listening to your relatives’ hot takes on politics. First up, Thanksgiving.

Here’s the deal: Thanksgiving is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to plan your alcoholic beverages carefully. It’s a holiday that calls for affable wines that will help you thrive for twelve hours in the face of well-meaning family members; you need wines that are your friends.

Through my day job at Full Pull Wines, I’ve come to preach the gospel of Thanksgiving wines. Gone are the days of big beefy reds on my Turkey-day table. Gone are the trophy Barolos and California king Cabs. Gone are the purple teeth and stained tablecloths. The wines I serve at Thanksgiving follow three simple rules:

1. Moderate alcohol.

Remember: marathon, not sprint. You want to be buzzed enough to hear uncle Bruce’s take on the recent midterms without losing your mind, but you don’t want to be passed out when the whipped cream hits the pumpkin pie.

2. High acid.

Thanksgiving is the only day of the year where you’ll find congealed cranberries next to marshmallow-topped potatoes next to savory oyster stuffing. It’s a day of versatile culinary abominations; but you can be prepared when it comes to wine. Pick bottles with enough acidity to match any food your host throws your way, but that also cleanse and tend to your poor, abused palate.

3. Moderate price.

At Full Pull we say this: Thanksgiving is, statistically speaking, the most likely day of the year to host someone who will drop an ice cube (or two) into their wine, someone who will mix their wine with Sprite, and/or someone who will mix their red and white to make “moonshine rosé.” This is not the day to bust out the Grand Cru Burgundy; this is the day to seek out values.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the wine that will save Thanksgiving:

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1. Crémant and Cassis

What is Crémant?
Sparkling wine from France. It’s like Champagne, just not from Champagne.

What is Cassis?
Blackcurrant liqueur.

You mix them together?
When you put these two together it’s called a Kir Royale and it’s a perfect holiday drink. Real cocktails are too boozy for a marathon Thanksgiving, but a Kir Royale feels like a cocktail with all the low-ABV beauty of a glass of bubbles. The first drink you have on Thanksgiving day should be a Kir Royale. (Maybe even before any of your guests arrive?)

What are some brands to look out for?
So, you can obviously make this drink with any kind of bubbles. You could use Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, etc. We love Crémant because it’s high quality but inexpensive. This a two-ingredient drink—you want both ingredients to shine. We really like Domaine du Prieure’s Crémant and Cassis.

The perfect pairing?
Either begin or end your Thanksgiving with a cheeseboard full of Delice de Bourgogne. Kir Royale and Delice de Bourgogne were made for each other.


2. Sparkling and still rosé

Any kind of still or sparkling rosé?
Yep. You can’t really go wrong as long as you’re buying from good producers. As always, check in with the staff at your wine store (even if it’s just Trader Joe’s).

Why rosé?
Rosé in general was made for turkey—and sparkling rosé add a whole additional layer of palate-scrubbin’ bubbles to the mix.

What are some brands to look out for?
Think outside the box. For still options, we love Austrian rosé from Gobelsburg. The acidity and fruit in this wine play off one another so well, creating a wine that’s balanced and ready to pair with just about anything. We also can get behind some beefier rosés, like Tavel rosé in the Southern Rhone or Toscana rosé from Tuscany.

When it comes to bubbles, we’ve been loving Cremant de Limoux Rose. Deep in southwest France sits Limoux, a sparkling wine enclave of Languedoc-Roussillon. This region’s sparkling wines may be the oldest on official record. A regional legend says that Dom Pérignon actually got the idea for the Champagne method from passing through Limoux. Whether that story is true or not doesn’t really matter; what matters is that the sparkling wines of Limoux are delicious and a good story is perfect for the Thanksgiving table.

You could also opt for some domestic sparkling rosé. Trevari out of Washington; Argyle out of Oregon. Sparkling wine production is expensive and time consuming—especially for new producers in the United States. We love supporting this kind of rare, awesome winemaking through tons and tons of consumption.

The perfect pairing?
Think of high-acid rosé as the safest wine imaginable when it comes to food pairing. I can’t think of anything it wouldn’t pair with, from stuffed mushrooms to the last piece of pumpkin pie eaten for breakfast on Black Friday.


3. Vouvray, and other Loire Valley whites

What is Vouvray?
Chenin Blanc is the grape and Vouvray is the region. It’s delicious white wine that can range from dry to sweet, still to sparkling. Anything on this spectrum would work with a gluttonous dinner like Thanksgiving, but we’re mostly looking for your middle-of-the-road Vouvray—still, and walking the fine line between dry and off-dry.

Why is it so great?
Vouvray is heralded for its acidity—which makes it a wonderful wine for food pairing. It can handle brined turkey just as well as rye bread and apricot stuffing. It will elevate the usual mashed potatoes and make sense out of canned cranberry sauce.

What are some brands to look out for?
Guy Saget and the wines from the Saget family. They have been making wine in the Loire Valley since 1790 with a number of estates along the river, from Angers to Sancerre. They are one of only a handful of domaines that can say they’ve been in the Loire wine business for three successive centuries.

Other Loire Valley white wines, you say?
Yes. Vouvray is an unbelievably beautiful category of wine, and we recommend it. However, you could also hit it big with affordable Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Arbois, and Melon de Borgogne (also known as Muscadet) from all over the Loire. What’s special about the Loire is rippin’ acidity, which is perfect for Thanksgiving.


4. Cru Beaujolais

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Whaaaaaat?
Cru Beaujolais! Beaujolais is a region in France that makes wine out of the grape Gamay. Crus are highly regarded sub-regions within Beaujolais where the wine is more acclaimed. There are ten crus of Beaujolais—each with its own distinct style. We particularly like Morgon for Thanksgiving. Morgon’s granite soils provide concentration, structure, and ageability to floral, spicy, fruited Beaujolais.  

Do you mean Beaujolais Nouveau?
Nope. We can get behind some quaffable B. Nouveau, but we’re more into cru Beaujolais.

What’s so great about cru Beaujolais?
Cru Beaujolais has always felt like a precious family secret—a delicious category of high-quality wines at impossibly low prices. Those in the know stock their cellars with Cru Beaujolais, which in a good vintage can age along the lines of high-end Burgundy, and hope that no one figures out that these wines could easily demand double or triple the price.

Wait. Why isn’t this the most popular wine of all time?
It all goes back to the 14th century when the Duke of Burgundy, Philippe the Bold (yes, really), outlawed the planting of Gamay in Burgundy because he thought it to be a “very bad and disloyal plant.” (Yes, really.) Gamay was banished to Beaujolais, where the granite soils helped it grow splendidly, and quickly, the region and grape became synonymous. Despite how well Gamay grows, bad reputations are hard to shake. Beaujolais still finds itself needing supporters, soapboxers, beaters of the drum—roles that we here at I’d Rather Be Meryl are happy to play.

What should I look for?
We’ve been loving the wines from Frederic Sornin’s estate in Morgon. His wines contain the power and minerality we love from Morgon, but also feel light and lifted. Best of both worlds. The Raisins Gaulois bottling from Marcel Lapierre is an essential Thanksgiving wine, too.

If you want to read more about the crus of Beaujolais—and explore which may be your favorite—this is a great, quick resource.

I need more help!

Looking for something in particular? Or a wine shop suggestion in your area? Leave a comment below or DM us on Instagram. 

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