Choices are varied for Thanksgiving wines

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Wondering what wine to serve with turkey? Wine experts agree that a good Pinot Noir is always a safe bet but there are many other choices that go well with a Thanksgiving feast.

A wine selector tastes red wine from the latest vintage at Bonini winery's wine-cellar in the village of Brestovitsa, about 150km (93miles) east of the capital Sofia, in this December 8, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Oleg Popov/Files

Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, who holds the title Master of Wine, suggests a rich California Chardonnay would be perfect to accompany butternut squash for the traditional American meal but if chestnut stuffing is on the menu she suggests a Norton.

“I would go with a Norton from Linden Vineyards in Virginia. This was a wine served at the White House and it is their policy to serve wines that are produced in America,” said Simonetti-Bryan whose “Everyday Guide to Wine” was released recently on DVD.

John Hart, chairman of the Chicago wine auction house Hart Davis Hart, sees the Thanksgiving holiday on November 25 as the perfect opportunity to share special bottles with family and friends.

He plans to start with Krug Grande Cuvee Champagne, which averages about $150 a bottle, followed by an equally expensive red Burgundy, a 1995 Mazis-Chambertin from Domaine Bernard Dugat-Py.

“We always end with a Sauterne. This year, a half-bottle of 1981 Chateau Climens, usually with some homemade pie,” he said.

Chris Baggetta, the head sommelier at New York’s Michelin-starred restaurant Eleven Madison Park, said her preferences for Thanksgiving wines are dry, crisp whites. She likes Austrian Rieslings or Gruner Veltliners for a hint of sweetness and dry but fruity red wines like Cru Beaujolais and Cotes du Rhone.”

When pressed for American wines, she would turn first to Oregon because she is impressed by the quality of their Rieslings and their ability to age. Amity Vineyards in Yamhill County is at the top of her list with their Estate Dry Riesling.

“With turkey, I would stay in Oregon. Cristom Louise Vineyard Pinot Noir has power and perfume, with lots of spice, almost like cinnamon red hot candies -- perfect with all the Thanksgiving trimmings,” she said. “Chehalem’s Reserve Pinot Noir is elegant and earthy, focusing on more mushroom and savory notes.”

At the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel, sommelier David Jones can’t resist California’s abundant offerings.

“Turkey dinner is notoriously known for being a difficult (food) pairing. We like the Keller Estate Pinot Noir ... the fruit coming from the Sonoma Coast brings cherry to the table,” he explained.

Wine consultant Maureen Downey is opting for some Spanish wines and California Pinot Noirs from MacMurray and Dutton Goldfield.

“I love the Pinots for quaffing and light hors d’oeuvre noshing and I love the rich, full flavors of many Spanish wines for Thanksgiving dinner,” she said. “Whether the huge wines of Toro, or the lighter and fruitier wines of the south in Jumilla and Yecla, I think Spain has all the spice and richness to match well with holiday fare.”

For dessert wine expert Doug Frost, who is both a Master of Wine and a Master Sommelier, has one guiding rule -- the wine should always be sweeter than the dessert.

So if guests still have room for apple, pecan or pumpkin pie, break out the Port, Madeira, sherry or ice wines from Canada and New York’s Finger Lakes region.