For many of us, this will be our first Thanksgiving in two years that approaches normalcy. Go all out with wine and spirits pairings for every course.
Whet Your Appetite
Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon Whiskey is one of the most underrated American whiskeys on our shelves. Filling a void that was long held by Buffalo Trace, the quality of this bourbon for this price tier is unmatched. The palate is dry yet mouthwatering, with flavors of orange peel, oak spice, and clove. Start your meal with an old-school cocktail or let this whiskey sit for a few minutes in the glass before sipping it.
Brooklyn-made Forthave Spirits Red is a bittersweet aperitif that sets itself apart from the pack with full-force aromas, a textured palate, and a soft finish. Experiment with refreshing cocktails or simply pour the outstanding bitter over ice with soda water.
Viña Ilusión is a teeny Rioja Baja operation that continues to wow us with its fresh wines and unflinching dedication to permaculture. This blanco is great for fans of energetic white wines with exemplary white fruit character. Luscious, unoaked, and fruity (but not overly) with a ton of minerality. For starters—from chopped salad to garlicky shrimp—a younger Tempranillo Blanco works wonders.
For classic bubbles, Chardonnet & Fils, “Cuvée Tradition” Brut is a lively blend that boasts a fine bead and a fuller palate. The sparkler’s herbal notes and seaside minerals will harmonize with a range of finger foods. This is a coup for savvy hosts: top-notch Champagne that’s savory, fresh, and approachable at just over $30.
Beaujolais has increased in popularity over the last few years. No doubt partially thanks to the light red’s versatility at the dinner table. Unfortunately, that means it’s also increased in price. Welcome, Frappato “Belsito”, Terre di Giurfo. The Sicilian charmer is vibrant ruby in color with opulent fruit that’s reminiscent of a great Beaujolais.
Terroir-driven L.A. gin may not be the obvious choice for your Thanksgiving table, but Amass Los Angeles Dry Gin in a complex citrus-forward cocktail that’s neither too floral nor too overpowering might be just the thing to act as respite in between courses (or bites).
The Main Course
Pinot Noir is the classic turkey pairing. This very solid bottle is a brilliant discovery if you’re serving a large crowd: it’s got a favorable price point and if you have some bottles left over it serves as a lovely weeknight red.
An enthusiastic Staff Pick states that Millet’s Sancerre “Insolite” is “what great Sancerre should taste like.” For a white option, this special reserve wine is a bold yet crystal clear expression of Sauvignon Blanc. Its unctuous mouthfeel, fine finish, and delightful aromas mean it can adapt at the table from roast poultry to roast cauliflower.
This unoaked Primitivo from Apulia is destined to be a crowd pleaser. It’s dominated by dark-berried fruit character, voluptuous tannins, and a fresh acidity. All this adds up to a beautiful wine—full, complex, and classic—that is a must if you’re serving red meat this season. Did we mention it’s under $20?
The deep notes of vanilla, butterscotch, sandalwood, and cloves in Don Fulano’s Anejo would be welcome at a heavily spiced holiday table. Give this one (which was aged in a blend of ex-Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Loire wine casks) some time to open up and reap the rewards.
After one whiff of the explosive and elusive treacle, allspice, and honey aromas, you’ll get a sense of how Hamilton Worthy Park Jamaica Black Rum is as at home by the fire as it is poolside. Try using it in a cocktail with components like coffee, walnut liqueur, or amontillado sherry for a nutty, warming treat.
Suntory’s Hibiki “Japanese Harmony” delicately balances smokiness and sweetness for a complex expression that benefits from the influence of Mizunara, a rare Japanese oak. Notes of honey, clementine, and sowed grains will match your cranberry sauce and stuffing.
Piece of Cake
This Recioto is a dessert wine that’s a specialty of Valpolicella, where the Bignele winery was founded in the 1800s. It’s sweet on the palate but with tannins, dark fruits, and spices that make it a rich and delicious partner to a cheese plate.
For a special treat, see what the Roque family does with the Armagnac’s prized plum. They’ve been making irresistibly good aged brandies since the 19th century. The Louis Roque La Vieille Prune Plum Brandy shows incredible finesse with a supple texture and great purity of fruit accented with shades of spice and the Gascon forest.
Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur is a divine tradition of the Alps. It’s made from green walnuts, spices, and Alpine herbs and traditionally served with espresso as an after-dinner drink. The bitterness from the young nuts is balanced by the sweetness and citrus notes from the alpine botanicals. Sip like the locals or experiment with rum, calvados, or bourbon for a super cozy cold-weather cocktail.