The Best Wines & Spirits for Thanksgiving 2020

What to drink during a holiday season unlike any other.

 

Many of us are retooling Thanksgiving this year. Let us take the guesswork out of what to drink. No matter your set-up, find suggestions below for each course of the meal.

 

The Inner Circle You’re celebrating with the members of your household. You may be missing out on a “normal” holiday experience, but luckily you know exactly what you like to drink and won’t be catering to a range of palates. Indulge with these five choices.

One upside of your new Thanksgiving is that your kitchen’s probably slightly calmer. So, once the turkey’s in the oven, kick back and sip on a refreshing aperitif (or before the turkey’s in the oven, we’re not judging). Escubac, a spicy, citrusy, juniper-free spirit, mixes really well with tonic and makes an outstanding white Negroni.

Exceptional pairings aren’t just for the main course. Serve a bottle of 2017 Montagny “Le Clou” from Clos Salomon, alongside your starters and they’ll be singing. The cooler climate Chardonnay has high acid that goes extremely well with food: from brussel sprouts to sweet potatoes.

If you’re sticking to turkey, perhaps a smaller heritage breed bird, Gamay is the answer to your main course. The Morgon from Ch. du Basty is fruity with a tannic underlay and it’s a no-brainer for turkey and cranberry sauce. Open it early to breathe. Going for red meat this year? Heitz’s Cabernet Sauvignon from 2014 lands at a crossroads of celebration and comfort. It offers a generous palate of dark cherry and currant with a core of bright acid framed with vanilla and spice—tailor-made for steak.

The second bottling of X.O. Armagnac 2.0 from PM Spirits and L’Encantada stands in a category all its own. Its flavors are vivid, accessible, and invigorating. No oaked tannin bombs here, this one is seeping with desiccated cherry, toasted hazelnut, chile-infused dark chocolate, and orange peels. Who needs dessert?

 

Friendsgiving! On Zoom? These picks for the adventurous palate would suit any Friendsgiving, virtual or otherwise. Impress your squad with finds from off the beaten path.

Start the meal with a bang—Sunflower Sutra from Blue Ox is a revelation. Made in California in the méthode champenoise, it’s shockingly lean and mineral-driven with a roundness from the Pinot Meunier’s generous fruit character. Notes of lemon zest, marzipan, red apple and wet stone are suitable for a first course. Can your friends name the literary reference?

If you’re celebrating over Zoom, consider sending the same bottle to each of your friends so you can share a toast. Broc Cellars, Love Red over-delivers for the price and is a vibrant, versatile thirst-quencher. Plus, the bottle is adorable, in case you want to carry the celebration over to Instagram. Or keep it local with Brooklyn’s Forthave Spirits’ Red Aperitivo, which boasts bona fide hip status. Kick an Americano or Spritz up a notch with its tantalizing blend of botanicals and gentle bittersweet finish. Virtual cheers!

During dinner get to know the rare Armenian grape, Areni Noir. Voskevaz’s “Karasi Collection” Areni Noir contains a good concentration of dark fruit and spice, despite its light body. Not unlike a good Oregon pinot noir, it’s a hit with poultry.

Finally, introduce your friends to Pommeau de Normandie. Lemorton Pommeau de Normandie is made from a fortified blend of fresh-pressed apple and pear juice. It will open their eyes to the wonders of the region, all without the price tag of Calvados. It’s an excellent after-dinner choice (or partner to a slice of pie).

If you’re sitting this Friendsgiving out, send a host gift in your stead. Doc Herson’s Natural Amaro or Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur are two craft spirits representing makers at the top of their game. They’re niche enough that the recipient won’t already have a bottle and delicious enough that they’ll be glad when they can present them to future guests.

 

Approaching Normalcy Look to these picks to help ease the transition back to normalcy. From ready-to-drinks minimizing cleanup to sippers up for the job of smoothing over family tensions, each of these adaptable crowd pleasers is a sure bet.

First thing’s first, get a box of St. Agrestis’ Bag-in-Box Negroni in the fridge. The incredibly well-balanced cocktail made with the brand’s own Inferno Bitter and Greenhook Gin will impress guests upon arrival…and you won’t have even broken a sweat. For the family full of brown liquor fans, NY Distilling Co.’s Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye is another one of the best ready-to-drinks on our shelves.

With appetizers, go for Weszeli’s “Loiserberg” Riesling. The Austrian Riesling is full of florals and fresh aromatic white fruits. It’s low alcohol and high acid, which means it’s a perfect choice for the first leg of your culinary marathon.

We love “Thea’s Selection” Pinot Noir from Lemelson Vineyards for a big group of turkey gobblers. The deeply-fruited wine from an innovative Oregon winery has fine tannins and a long finish. It will please a range of palates and stand up to your bird any way you cook it.

A sip of Sergio Barale’s Barolo Chinato with dessert should kickstart your food coma recovery. This is the best value available in the U.S. for the classic drink. Falling somewhere between a vermouth and an amaro, the after-dinner digestif is luscious and full-bodied with harmonious notes of baking spices and blood orange pith with just a tinge of bitterness.

And when post-dessert talk unavoidably turns to politics, pour a round of single malt whisky to smooth over familial conflicts. Starward’s Nova was aged in red wine barrels and presents notes of fig, honey-coated cereal, and drying spices. It’s a mellow sipping whisky that tastes like it should’ve made a bigger dent in your wallet, so don’t worry when you inevitably pour another round. There’s a lot to talk about.