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Thanksgiving wine inspiration: Ideas on bottles to choose

Thanksgiving in 2020 will have a very different feel for many people, but if you plan on opening a bottle then here is a selection of great US wines recently reviewed by Decanter experts.

Smaller gatherings and virtual meet-ups are just two ways that Thanksgiving 2020 – and the holiday season in general – is likely to differ from more typical years for many people.

Deciding on a Thanksgiving wine is hardly a major concern in such times.

For wine lovers, however, opening an interesting bottle and sharing the contents with a small number of guests, or even enjoying a glass via a Zoom call with friends and family, could bring a moment of brightness to a difficult year.

Below, you’ll find a selection of US wines reviewed by Decanter in the past 12 months, and available at various prices, intended to offer some inspiration.

For those planning to hold a small gathering with some or all of the traditional dishes, we’ve also included an excerpt from an article previously written for Decanter.com by wine expert Ray Isle on how to choose a Thanksgiving wine.

He recommended opening bottles that will make whoever is around the table happy, rather than necessarily obsessing over precise food pairings.

For instance, Thanksgiving dinner probably isn’t the time to convince a long-established Bordeaux lover that an ‘orange-hued, skin-fermented Ribolla Gialla is a better idea with the roast bird’, he said.

Yet wine geeks at the table might be thrilled at the prospective of Jura Savagnin, Isle wrote. He suggested thinking about wine in terms of three broad categories of taste, namely ‘old school’, ‘moderately adventurous’ or ‘off the wall’.

You can find more specific wine and food matching advice here, as well as in our wine and turkey pairing guide.

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Excerpt from an article originally published on Decanter.com in November 2015 by Ray Isle, who is executive wine editor at Food & Wine magazine in the US.

Writing about Thanksgiving wine pairings is, for wine writers, almost as much as yearly ritual as Thanksgiving itself.

Like Thanksgiving, there are traditions involved. For example:

  • Stating that turkey in and of itself doesn’t taste like much and therefore one should consider the plethora of side dishes on the table;
  • Noting that Pinot Noir and Riesling have been anointed by sommeliers (and many others) as go-to wines that pair with anything;
  • Noting that since turkey-day is a deeply American holiday, wines from the US are the appropriate option.

Nothing wrong with all that. However, my suggestion is actually to more or less ignore what’s on the table.

Most Thanksgiving dinners involve a mass of different foods heaped together on a plate: roast turkey, gravy, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce, and the list goes on.

One bite may be turkey (white meat? dark? with gravy? without?); the next a brussel sprout (roasted? steamed? buttered?); then yams with marshmallows on top (in our house, at least; see above tradition).

Worrying about pairing a specific wine with all that seems a bit far-fetched.

Instead, I’d suggest that Thanksgiving wine choices are really more about pairing wines with people.’

When it comes to who is present, Isle suggested thinking about wine in terms of three broad categories of taste, namely ‘old school’, ‘moderately adventurous’ or ‘off the wall’.

Thanksgiving wine inspiration: Tasting notes and scores by Decanter experts

Search all Decanter wine reviews here

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