Thanksgiving dinner is a wonderful but challenging meal. The gathering of family and friends to celebrate good fortune is truly special, but choosing which wines to serve can be perplexing.
The key is to select wines that please different palates and also pair well with the variety of dishes being served.
Wines with forward fruit appeal to most people, and lively acidity always aids food pairings. Here are such selections to consider for Thanksgiving:
J. Lohr 2016 White Riesling “Bay Mist, Monterey County” ($10): What a buy! This pleasing wine is forward on the palate with a bit of sweetness yet well-balanced. Impressive length for the price.
Gran Passione 2016 red blend “Rosso, Veneto, Italy” ($13): This excellent bargain has great, purple-tinged color and both strength and richness on the palate. Broadly appealing with its complexity and strong personality.
Innocent Bystander non-vintage Sparkling Moscato “Victoria, Australia” ($14): Popular with diverse palates thanks to attractive color, pleasing character and forward fruit. Notable for quality at a modest price.
Hugel 2016 white blend “Gentil, Alsace, France” ($15): This blend of six grapes is lively and pleasurable on the palate, featuring rich fruit, very good balance, fine integration and a lengthy finish.
Ramón Bilbao 2016 Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain” ($15): This food-flexible white wine is very attractive in the glass and has fruit and appealing complexity on nose and palate. Its strong personality and great length are delightful.
Maison L’Envoyé 2015 Gamay “Côte du Py, Morgon, Beaujolais, France” ($20): The best Beaujolais I’ve tasted this fall. Forward fruit, excellent balance and pleasing complexity dominate on the palate. Order on the winery’s website.
Pratsch 2015 Grüner Veltliner “Rotenpüllen Organic, Niederösterreich, Austria ($20): This outstanding wine is strong on the palate and full of personality. I loved its well-balanced fruit and engaging development.
Raeburn 2015 Chardonnay “Russian River Valley” ($20): A very good choice among moderately oaked Chards. Fine integration, character and a long-lingering finish exceed expectations implied by its moderate price.
Fulcrum 2016 Dry Gewürztraminer “Anderson Valley” ($21): This pleasing Gewürz is dry, but not bone dry. Beautifully made, it expresses fine balance, complexity and polish. A great food wine.
Ferrari-Carano 2015 Chardonnay “Sonoma County” ($23): Impresses with quality that exceeds its price. Beautiful color and a forward, complex nose. Oaked, but very well integrated. Rich fruit, fine balance.
Hugel 2014 Gewürztraminer “Classic, Alsace, France” ($24): Alsatian Gewürz has long been my personal favorite for Thanksgiving, and the full-bodied Hugel has impressive color, fruit, integration and refinement. Order online.
Oak Farm 2016 Albariño “Lodi” ($24): This outstanding, food-friendly Albariño features strong fruit combined with excellent acidity, pleasing complexity and loads of personality. Order on the winery’s website.
Alois Lageder 2015 Pinot Grigio “Porer, Südtirol, Alto Adige, Italy” ($25): Deep gold color foretells fruit paired with engaging acidity, fine integration, forward character and an extended finish.
Klinker Brick 2014 Zinfandel “Old Vine, Marisa Vineyard, Lodi” ($30): This memorable wine expresses great fruit, but also offers full-body, impressive strength, excellent balance and strong personality.
Navarro 2016 Muscat Blanc “Cluster Select, Late Harvest, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County” ($35, 375 ml; $69, 750 ml): Sipping this fine dessert wine is a wonderful way to end Thanksgiving dinner. Shines on the palate with forward, sweet, well-balanced, refined flavors. Order on winery’s website.
The Calling 2015 Pinot Noir “Russian River Valley” ($37): My favorite among mid-priced Pinots is impressive all-around, particularly its strong, complex nose and forward, rich fruit on the palate. Very well made.
Caduceus 2014 white blend “Dos Ladrones, Cochise County” ($40): This Arizona blend of Chardonnay and Malvasia Bianca is forward on the palate with rich fruit, light oak, full body and excellent balance.
Grgich Hills 2014 Chardonnay “Napa Valley” ($43): This terrific Chardonnay expresses strong fruit very well balanced by pleasing acidity and complemented by impressive complexity. Finishes very long and full-bodied.
Gary Farrell 2015 Pinot Noir “Russian River Valley” ($45): Wonderful Pinot Noir from one of California’s finest producers. I loved its beautiful richness paired with finely honed balance and robust, long finish.
Thacher 2014 Zinfandel “Triumvirate, Reserve, Paso Robles” ($48): Superb thanks to great color hue and depth, as well as notable power, smooth richness and engaging complexity on nose and palate. Order on the winery’s website.
$50 and Higher
Nicora 2015 Syrah-Grenache “Buxom, Central Coast” ($53): Very attractive and polished all-around with deep color, notably rich fruit, rounded tannings and pleasing complexity. Order on the winery’s website.
FEL 2015 Pinot Noir “Savoy Vineyard, Anderson Valley” ($70): Strong, full-bodied and engaging, this fine Pinot Noir develops beautifully in the mouth, expressing power, depth and complexity. Open one hour before serving.
King 2014 Pinot Noir “Domaine, Willamette Valley” ($70): This excellent, Oregon-style Pinot Noir is food-friendly with its fruit, fine vinification, crisp balance and impressive finish. Open 75 minutes before serving.