10 Perfect Thanksgiving Wines (& One Secret, All-Purpose Pick)

wines for Thanksgiving

If you are like most people, you have yet to purchase your Thanksgiving wines. Not to worry, kemosabe: I gots you covered. Each of these delicious Thanksgiving picks is: 1) American (consistent with the holiday); 2) flavorful and versatile enough for the multiplicity of flavors on the T-Day table; 3) $30 or less (to encourage multiple bottles); 4) not obtrusively oaky or tannic or strange-tasting (i.e., conducive to peacemaking at the table); 5) widely available (i.e., you can get your hands on it):

WHITE:

Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc 2017 $28 (Napa): 
Pretty tropical scents on the nose and a mouth-cleansing lemony crispness on the palate and enduring finish. Not aggressively grassy/herbal-scented like many versions of Sauvignon Blanc.

K Vintners Art Den Hoed Viognier 2016 $27 (Washington State): 
Bewitching hints of peach and honeysuckle rise from the glass, with the wine’s lively acidity ready to take on every cranberry, yammy bite of your feast.

Morgan Metallico Unoaked Chardonnay $25 (Monterey, CA): 
No one will cry “butter bomb” when you serve this minerally Chardonnay, its medium-to-full weight and lemon-pineapple-pear personality a fast friend to turkey and all the trimmings.

RED:

A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir “The Essence Of Oregon” 2015 $28 (Oregon):
Evocative of cherry, smoke, and a touch vanilla, it is a heftier-style Oregon Pinot that keeps it fresh with mouthwatering vibrancy.

Ancient Peaks Merlot 2016 $20 (Paso Robles):
Leave it to California’s sun-drenched Paso Robles to foster this velvety, flavorful affair, its price blissfully restrained for the intensity of black fruit, savory herbs, and toastiness it offers.

Chateau Ste Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley Indian Wells 2015 $20 (Washington State):
Blackcurranty and tobacco-tinged, with silky smoothness but enough underlying zest to keep the table invigorated.

Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2015 $20 (Sonoma):
It is never out of fashion to drink the uniquely American grape, Zinfandel, on Thanksgiving, and this one will not clobber you with alcohol like some Zins. It is medium-to-full-bodied with a raspberry and clove personality.

L’Ecole 41 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2015 $28 (Washington State):
Rich and plummy, with hints of licorice and a long finish. It seduced the entire table on a recent visit to a New York steakhouse.

The Paring Pinot $30 (Sta Rita Hills, CA):
A fine effort from Santa Barbara County, its black fruit silky, smoky, and savory, able to meld seamlessly with the crispy skin of your turkey and all manifestations of stuffing.

Le P’tit Paysan “Le P’tit Pape” 2015 $20 (Central Coast):
Although its label features a drawing of a rooster facing down a p’tit pape or “little pope” (see photo above), there is no need to limit this savory red blend to that type of poultry. It is a medium-bodied charmer bristling with red fruit, herbs, and a pleasing earthiness.

ONE SECRET, ALL-PURPOSE PICK:

While I usually recommend including both whites and reds at the Thanksgiving table, if you are seeking just one fail-safe, all-purpose choice, go for a rosé sparkling wine like the Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé Carneros NV (Sonoma). It’s got everything: American (check), versatile (made from almost equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it is rich enough for dark meat and gravy); fairly priced ($28); immensely likable (beautiful perfume of rose petals and raspberries, with plenty of zingy crispness); and in ample supply (Gloria Ferrer is everywhere). Moreover, the bubbles are cleansing, and, of course, celebratory, and it is an eye-opening choice for those unaccustomed to drinking sparkling wine with their big bird.

How to Return Wine to the Store

Did you know you can return wine to the store?  Not because you didn’t like it, but if it suffers from cork taint, which is that moldy, wet newspaper smell that affects about 5% of wines. This happened last week when I opened a $130 bottle of the white Bordeaux Château Pape Clément I that had purchased for a bespoke seminar series I am doing for clients.

Since we couldn’t drink it, I poured a tiny bit out and passed it around the room – a perfect instructional tool for demonstrating “corked wine”.

The next day I took the nearly-full bottle back to Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits, where the manager smelled the wine and immediately issued a refund.

“I hope it didn’t ruin your night,” the manager said warmly, handing me the return receipt.

The wine store will likely not be stuck with the bad wine, either, as the wine’s distributor or producer will often take it back.

The bottom line is that corked wine happens no matter how illustrious the wine or the merchant, but there is recourse.

return wine to store

’62 La Tache, ’37 Yquem, &…a $15 Santa Barbara Sauvignon Blanc? My Picks Revealed on Grape Nation Radio

Grape Nation Mark Oldman

A few weeks ago I appeared on Sam Benrubi ‘s Grape Nation radio show on Heritage Radio. He asked a slew of incisive questions, and I revealed a cornucopia of personal favorites. Sam’s transcript of the Q&A segment is below, with my commentary in brackets. The full broadcast can be found here.

“Mark gives us some Billion Dollar recos for our weekly Wine List:

1. What are you drinking now– Viognier, a rich white with less oak than Chardonnay, [as well as the French version called] Condrieu from the Northern Rhone. Also [what Mark calls “Low Buzz Pioneers”] from the Napa Valley like Chappellet WineryRobert Mondavi Winery & Beringer Vineyards.

2. Favorite wine and food pairing- pancakes & Chateau d’Yquem, rose Champagne [esp. Dom Pérignon rose] with spareribs.

3. Favorite wine restaurant and/or bar-Aquagrill, NYC stands the test of time with a smart seafood wine list. Also Bâtard, NYC & A.O.C. Wine Bar and Restaurant in LA. Dawat Indian in NYC has an affordable BYOB policy with heavenly samosas, great with sparkling wine.

4. Favorite all-time wine- find generous friends with great taste in wine. ’62 & ’78 La Tache, ’59 Henri Jayer Richebourg, a ’37 d’Yquem & Brander Sauvignon Blanc from Santa Barbara, CA [enjoyed on a picnic bench at the winery with freshly caught trout shared by the owner].

5. Best wine around 15 bucks Red & White- Red, Portuguese reds, like Quinta do Crasto’s Douro Flor de Crasto. White, of course Muscadet, and Verdejo from Rueda, Spain.

For our “Weekly Wine Sip” Mark brought in the most interesting wine of this segment, a 2005 Volnay Burgundy from the private collection of Geddy Lee, lead singer & bassist from RUSH. Geddy purchased barrels at the 2005 Hospice de Beaune in France. The full name of the wine is 2005 Hospices de Beaune Volnay 1er Cru Santenots Cuvée Jéhan de Massol Lucien Le Moine pour Geddy Lee.”

Full Grape Nation interview is here.

What Wine with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? Join Mark Oldman & Amazon Video at the Hollywood Athletic Club

What wine matches with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”? What grape goes with “”The Grand Tour? Join Mark Oldman on April 24th, 7pm, at the Hollywood Athletic Club where he will pair wine with Amazon Prime Now’s hit shows, including  “Electric Dreams,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” “Long Strange Trip,” “The Grand Tour,” and “The Dangerous Book For Boys,” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”.
Reserve here.
 

Where Nike’s Phil Knight, the US Ambassador to Russia, & Mark Oldman Converge

What do Nike founder Phil Knight, a former US Ambassador to Russia, the current CEO of the Girl Scouts, and Yahoo Cofounder Jerry Yang, and Mark have in common? They were all recently featured as “Stanford Pathfinders” on this new SiriusXM show hosted by Howard Wolf.

Mark discusses how he got his start in wine, how to order wine in a restaurant, why he advises drinkers to engage in “vinous promiscuity,” and a slew of other intoxicating topics. He and Howard enjoy a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from Robert Mondavi, the late wine pioneer himself a Stanford alumnus (class of 1936, a very good year for California wine).

Click here to listen.