Best Thanksgiving Wines

By Dirk Smits

The Top Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving represents one of the biggest food celebrations in American culture. It is a day for breaking bread with friends and neighbors, and it is a day for celebrating the bounty our land has to offer. For this reason, we are firm believers that a Thanksgiving feast should be paired with American wines.

Luckily, our great, winemaking nation offers a wide selection of varieties and styles of wine to suit every taste preference. It isn’t hard to find a homegrown bottling that will shine at your table, whatever style of wine you happen to like.

That’s why GAYOT’s list of the Best Thanksgiving Wines includes wines from several different American wine regions. We know you can find something in these wine recommendations to suit your budget, your taste preference and help you celebrate the true meaning of this all-American holiday.

> Check GAYOT’s Thanksgiving Planner.

1. 2016 Grounded Wine Company Collusion Red Table Wine

> Watch our exclusive video interview with winemaker Josh Phelps, founder of Grounded Wine Co.

Varietal: 43% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Malbec, 4% Syrah
Origin: Columbia Valley, Washington, USA
Price: $22
ABV: 14.1%

There’s a misconception about the climate of Washington state. It is often incorrectly assumed that the entire state receives very little sunshine, but the truth is that the eastern part of the state receives as much as 300 sun-kissed days per year. That makes Eastern Washington an ideal region for growing bold red wine grapes.

So, if you appreciate bold reds, this is a region you’ll want to explore, starting with the Grounded Wine Company. This relatively new winery is the vision of winemaker Josh Phelps. He’s the son of Chris Phelps, one of the Napa Valley’s most sought-after consulting winemakers. Grounded Wine Company is the younger Phelps’ attempt to build his own legacy, and he’s already being called a “rising star” of the American wine scene. Best of all, he’s doing it while only using grapes from sustainably grown vineyards.

We’ve selected Phelps 2016 Collusion as our pick for an affordable red wine worthy of any Thanksgiving table. This red blend offers aromas of blackberry and cooked cranberry, rounded out by notes of vanilla and cedar. Ripe cherry dominates on the palate. However, it’s that lingering note of baking spices on the finish that will make you want to come back for more.

> For more information, visit the Grounded Wine Company official website.

2. 2019 Gundlach Bundschu Gewürztraminer

2019 Gundlach Bundschu Gewürztraminer

Varietal: 100% Gewürztraminer
Origin: Sonoma Coast, California, USA
Price: $25
ABV: 14.3%

Gewürztraminer is one of those varietals touted as a great Thanksgiving wine. Its classically floral aromas feel like a breath of fresh air when paired with this traditionally heavy meal.

We’ve chosen this particular dry Gewürztraminer in part for sentimental reasons. Gundlach Bundschu is one of Sonoma County’s oldest winemaking estates. A family-run operation, this wine tradition has carried on for six generations. That makes the Gundlach family a true emblem of American winemaking history.

But make no mistake, we did not put this wine on our list simply because of American tradition. This Gewürztraminer is worthy even without the pedigree! Its aromas of jasmine, honeysuckle and a hint of spice are alluring. In the mouth, the wine almost dances across the tongue with flavors of pineapple, stone fruit, lychee and vanilla. Yet, it finishes clean, making it a welcoming palate cleanser after the turkey and fixings.

> For more information, visit the Gundlach Bundschu official website.

3. 2018 FEL Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

2018 FEL Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Varietal: Pinot Noir
Origin: Anderson Valley, California, USA
Price: $38
ABV: 14.3%

The Anderson Valley is one of California’s lesser-known wine regions. If you are familiar with this fairly remote, northern California AVA, it’s probably because you love Pinot Noir.

Although there are many great Pinots to choose from in the Anderson Valley, our pick is from FEL. It is a fairly new winery, started in 2009 when Lede Family Wines purchased a relatively obscure, family winery in this Pinot-producing region.

The FEL Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is a wine with remarkable aromas. Its floral bouquet features rose petals, violets and hints of rosemary along with cherry and cocoa. The palate is fresh and lively with red fruit flavors and a luxuriously silky texture.

> For more information, visit the FEL Wines official website.

> Related Content: Restaurants Offering Thanksgiving Dinner Near You

4. 2018 Villa Creek, Garnacha

Varietal: 100% Grenache
Origin: Paso Robles, California, USA
Price: $75
ABV: 15%

Grenache can be big, dark and rich or it can be more translucent and bright
depending on where it’s grown and the touch of the winemaker. Villa Creek likes to
allow the grapes from two different vineyards to bring sheer delight to your
Thanksgiving table. Grapes from the Luna Matta estate offer a darker profile with
aromatics of black fruits, spices and herbs while grapes of the Maha estate show a
higher level of energy and precision with a profile of pomegranate, bright red fruit,
kirsch and spice.

A dark ruby profile draws you to the glass. The nose expresses aromatics of steeped
cherries, cured meats, crushed rocks and licorice transitioning into a generous
palate with great purity, balance and grace. This 2018 Garnacha strikes a perfect
balance of fruit and savory framed by a modest structure that will go perfectly with
your bird.

> For more information, visit the Villa Creek official website.

> Check out GAYOT’s Wine of the Week.

5. 2017 Beekeeper Cellars Montecillo Zinfandel

2017 Beekeeper Cellars Montecillo Zinfandel

Varietal: 95% Zinfandel, 5% Petite Sirah
Origin: Sonoma Valley, California, USA
Price: $60
ABV: 14%

Zinfandel is often called “America’s grape.” That’s part of what makes this grape a popular choice for the Thanksgiving table. However, Zinfandel is also a popular choice because many wine drinkers love how the robust fruity flavors this varietal tends to exhibit match with the flavors of turkey and salty stuffing.

Beekeeper is a boutique winery in California’s Sonoma County specializing in this varietal. The winery currently produces two different Zinfandels, either of which would sure to be a welcome addition to any Zin lover’s Thanksgiving table.

We’re recommending Beekeeper’s Montecillo Zinfandel because we love the complexity of fall flavors found in the nose and on the palate. It offers hints of espresso, cedar, sage and spice, with the sweetness of dried blueberry and cranberry. The wine lingers long. If you’re looking for a special occasion Zinfandel, this would be the wine.

> For more information, visit the Beekeeper Cellars official website.

6. 2016 Lang & Reed ‘Two-Fourteen’ Cabernet Franc

2016 Lang & Reed ‘Two-Fourteen’ Cabernet Franc

Varietal: Cabernet Franc
Origin: Napa Valley, California, USA
Price: $52
ABV: 14.5%

A Napa Valley wine is a classic choice for your Thanksgiving table. The Napa Valley is definitely a region with any number of special occasion wines worthy of your meal. Although most Napa Valley red wine lovers will probably instinctively reach for a Cabernet Sauvignon, we’re inclined to recommend something different.

Lang & Reed is a winery focused on Cabernet, but not Cabernet Sauvignon. This winery produces what’s recognized as some of America’s best Cabernet Franc.

We’re recommending Lang & Reed’s ‘Two-Seventeen’ as our Napa Valley Thanksgiving wine because of its structure and balance. The wine’s name comes from the single grape clone used to make this wine, Clone 214 from France’s Loire Valley. It offers ripe blueberry and blackberry aromas and flavors, but an underlying savory, dried herb note and hint of black pepper is what really gives it a special character. This Cabernet Franc lingers long on the palate and is sure to please any lover of Napa reds.

> For more information, visit the Land & Reed Winery official website.

7. 2019 Priest Ranch, Grenache Blanc, Napa Valley

Priest Ranch, Grenache Blanc, Napa Valley 2019

Varietal: Grenache Blanc
Origin: Napa Valley, California, USA
Price: $23
ABV: 14.1%

The historic Priest Ranch is now part of the Somerston Estate, a significant property in Napa Valley. The wines of Priest Ranch are blends from multiple blocks that showcase the diversity and complexity of the combined properties. For the 2019 Grenache Blanc, grapes were selected from two vineyard blocks planted at an elevation of 1,250 feet which assures good acidity levels in the wine. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and aged for eight months with stirring of the lees.

The wine has a bright light yellow color and reveals aromas of stone fruit, apple and citrus. The palate mirrors the nose with the addition of juicy acidity and a hint of minerality.

> For more information, visit the Priest Ranch Wines official website.

8. Ram’s Gate, Pinot Noir, Bush Crispo Vineyard, Russian River 2018

Ram’s Gate, Pinot Noir, Bush Crispo Vineyard, Russian River 2018

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir (115 clone and Pommard clone)
Origin: Sonoma, California, USA
Price: $75
ABV: 14.1%

Director of Winemaking Joe Nielsen joined Ram’s Gate Winery in 2018, and many of his decisions have been made not only with the intent of elevating the quality of Ram’s Gate’s wines even further, but of also creating wines that are truly unique. Not only did Joe transition Ram’s Gate’s 28-acre estate vineyard to organic farming (certification expected in 2024), but he also transformed the grower program to focus on a handful of special, small parcels of family-owned vineyards in Sonoma County. By working with lesser-known vineyards such as Bush Crispo, located in the Russian River Valley, Joe feels Ram’s Gate can offer wines that express subtle differences and offer an important differentiation to wine lovers.

This Pinot Noir shows a deep maroon color. Aromas of black currant, cherry, lavender and Asian spices emerge in the nose. The palate displays the same rich dark berry fruit complemented by spices and framed in by elegant, but present, tannins and lifting acid.

> For more information, visit the Ram’s Gate Winery official website.

9. Frank Family Vineyards, Carneros, Napa Valley, Blanc de Blancs 2015

Frank Family Vineyards, Carneros, Napa Valley, Blanc de Blancs 2015

Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
Origin: Napa Valley, California, USA
Price: $55
ABV: 12.54%

This Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine is sourced exclusively from Frank Family’s Lewis Vineyard in Carneros. Here, the predominant maritime influence of the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay creates the cool temperature, fog and wind that make their vineyard site ideally suited for growing cool climate varietals. Lewis Vineyard consists primarily of shallow and dense clay loam soils that result in extremely low yields, producing grapes with strong character and balanced acidity.

The wine shows a light straw color with persistent effervescence. Aromas of apple, Meyer lemon, toast and a touch of minerality materialize in the nose. The palate reveals a creamy texture with notes of lemon zest, green apple, toasted almonds and yeast.

> For more information, visit the Frank Family Vineyards official website.

10. Tablas Creek, Roussanne 2019, Paso Robles

Tablas Creek, Roussanne 2019, Paso Robles

Varietal: 100% Roussanne
Origin: Paso Robles, Adelaida District, California, USA
Price: $36
ABV: 12.5%

Tablas Creek Vineyard, founded in the limestone hills of Paso Robles’ Adelaida District by the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel and Robert Haas of Vineyard Brands, is dedicated to sustainably farmed wines from grape varietals traditional to France’s Rhône Valley.

Roussanne is prized for its richness, structure, ageability and flavors of honey, spice and mineral. Tablas Creek ferment and age their Roussanne for nine months in a mix of small wood, large neutral casks and stainless steel.

The wine displays a deep straw color. There is a very recognizable Roussanne nose: fresh honey, pear, brioche and crushed slate. The broad, well-balanced palate offers tropical fruit, pear, honey and good minerality.

> For more information, visit the Tablas Creek Vineyard official website.

11. 2017 Maha Estate Before Anyone Else

2017 Maha Estate Before Anyone Else

Varietal: 100% Clairette
Origin: Adelaida District, Paso Robles, California, USA
Price: $98
ABV: 13%

If Thanksgiving is more about the wine than the food at your table, you need a bottle of Before Anything Else. It’s the perfect wine for stumping your guests who love to guess the varietal. That’s because this unusual white from Paso Robles is made with Clairette. (It’s a white grape used in the Rhône as well as in making Vermouth.)

Maha’s rendition, produced biodynamically, offers pretty aromas of honey, tangerine and quince. In the mouth, it’s big on body and huge on texture. Mouth-filling, it is creamy on the tongue and slips down with a silky, oily finish and lingering cashew flavor. It’s a wine that demands attention and challenges the senses in a most pleasurable way.

> For more information, visit the Maha official website.