Panic, like airfare prices and cranberry sauce consumption, skyrockets this time of year. A friend tasked with picking up the red wine for a Thanksgiving feast of eight recently called in a near-frenzy, saying he had hardly a clue what to bring. It’s a question I get around this time every year.
The quick answer is to choose wines, either red or white, that provide a refreshing lift to the great variety and volume of dishes at the typical Thanksgiving table, many with no shortage of butter and fat.
Beyond complementing and enhancing all the dishes, the wines should lighten things up, almost unburdening the food. One primary way to do this is to look for wines with moderate levels of alcohol, generally 13 percent ABV or under. Additionally, wines with decent levels of acidity will cut through the heaviness of the foods.
With that in mind, here are half a dozen white and red wines that will work splendidly on your Thanksgiving table.
Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner “Gobelsburger” 2016, Kamptal, Austria
A classic Grüner in a lighter style with stone fruit, subtle spice, and floral notes, and a little white pepper on the finish. This is a refreshing wine to start with or to enjoy throughout the meal. From $14.99.
Domaine de la Pepière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie “La Pépie” 2016, Loire Valley, France
The versatility of Muscadet, often thought of as a fish and shellfish wine, is shown here in this delightfully expressive, lower-alcohol (11.5 percent ABV) wine. The tastes include apricot and orange with cream and floral notes. It becomes more expressive as it warms up a bit. From $14.96.
Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne “Les Sétilles” 2015, Burgundy, France
Lots of ripe fruit in this affordable Chardonnay from one of Burgundy’s best-known domaines. Apple, peach, and tropical fruit notes with restrained oak and a touch of spice on the finish. Another white that will carry its weight through the whole meal. From $18.39.
Stephane Aviron Fleurie “Domaine de la Madrière” Vielles Vignes 2015, Beaujolais, France
This pretty cru Beaujolais is soft and subtle with red fruit and black cherry notes, baking spices, and ample acidity. Delightful, easy to drink, and so much more satisfying than the Beaujolais Nouveau now hitting shelves. From $19.99.
Ezio T. Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Terra del Noce” 2012, Piedmont, Italy
Barbera, the “other” red after Nebbiolo in Italy’s Piedmont region, is high in acidity and can sometimes be shrill, so to speak. This one has impressive balance between fruit and acidity, making it a delightful food wine. I’ve had it a number of times recently with red pasta sauces, but it works with the Thanksgiving cornucopia as well. It softens after a few minutes in the glass and shows notes of blackberry, plum, violets, and earth. From $21.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Pinot Noir “Old Vines” 2013, Finger Lakes, New York
The Finger Lakes region is famous for its Rieslings, but cool-climate reds do well there as well, as this delicious Pinot Noir shows. Lean, complex, and concentrated, with notes of crushed black cherry, blueberry, coffee, cedar, and earth. There’s a mineral touch as well in what has to be one of the best Pinots for the price. From $21.