With buttery mashed potatoes, tart cranberry sauce, and meaty brown gravy alongside the Thanksgiving turkey, finding the right wine to pair with the table’s cornucopia of flavors is tricky.
Sommeliers usually point to light-bodied reds made from grapes like Pinot Noir and Gamay. These wines are low in tannins, pleasant and versatile in character, and have refreshing levels of acidity — in other words, they’re more than up to the task. But they’re far from the only wines you can pour during your Thanksgiving meal.
The seven bottles below pair with anything and everything that might make its way onto your Thanksgiving table. The list features mainstays like Merlot and yes, Pinot Noir, but also offers worthy outliers such as California Syrah. All bottles are available nationwide and retail for less than $60. And because this is a truly American holiday, all are made by domestic wineries.
Here are seven of the best American red wines for the Thanksgiving table.
With bright acidity, rich fruit flavors and aromas, and well-integrated tannins, this Merlot is the embodiment of a “crowd-pleasing” wine. Its versatility stretches to food pairings and it promises to complement anything from spiced stuffing to cheesy broccoli soufflé without overpowering. Plus, it’s made using organically farmed grapes, costs less than $20, and can be found nationwide — all things to be thankful for. Average price: $14.
Santa Lucia Highlands, a small AVA within Monterey, Calif., is gaining a reputation as a destination for high-quality Pinot Noir. This bottle serves as a great example of why: spicy cherry and cinnamon aromas, concentrated fruit flavors, and great value. If you’re smoking your turkey, or including any BBQ dishes on the table this year, this Pinot Noir will pair perfectly. (Be sure to call first dibs on that leg meat.) Average price: $22.
This wine strikes a balance between Old and New World Pinot Noir. It has a juicy character without tasting overly ripe, and nuanced notes of fall leaves and sautéed mushrooms. The overall mix of flavors makes it an ideal pairing for heavily spiced stuffing, while its bright acidity will pair well with heavier dishes. Average price: $25.
Roasted tomatoes, dried mushrooms, soy sauce, and fresh wasabi aromas make this wine smell a bit like a sushi bar, and it’s delicious. The umami-rich nose continues onto the palate, blending with concentrated dark-fruit flavors and pleasant tannins. If any form of roasted pork is making an appearance at your meal, or if you’re feeling fancy enough for a cheese course, this is the bottle for you. Average price: $28.
California isn’t typically associated with Syrah production, and this bottle makes us wonder why. It’s wonderfully balanced, blending fresh dark-fruit notes with well-rounded tannins, and it has a spicy, white pepper finish. With a relatively low alcohol content for the variety and region, it ticks all the boxes and will pair with anything on the table. Average price: $34.
Named after the New-Zealand-born founder and winemaker’s grandmother, A Tribute to Grace is a bright, fruity American Grenache that’s rich in cherry and redcurrant aromas. There’s a slight sweetness on the palate, which is also lively and tart. If you’re a cranberry sauce lover, this bottle is your jam. Average price: $44.
From a tiny subregion within the Willamette Valley AVA, this Pinot Noir is as complex and nuanced as many much more expensive bottles from better-known regions. The wine’s attractive bouquet includes aromas of tart red berries, green twiggy notes, and freshly turned earth. The red berry notes continue onto the palate, which has well-integrated tannins and textured minerality. For the price, this wine is probably one you’ll only want to share with two or three others toward the end of your meal. Average price: $57.