By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue, Great Northwest Wines
Thanksgiving is no time to sweat about what wines to open.
Our strategy is simple: Open a lot of bottles, spread them around the table, then let your guests figure out what they want to drink. The food is the focus of this meal, particularly the turkey, so look for wines that are reasonably priced and flavorful to fill your Thanksgiving table.
We do like to include sparkling wine, along with Riesling, Pinot Noir and a dessert wine, then we fill in a few more, depending on how many guests you are feeding. Figure at least a half-bottle per wine drinker, and don’t worry about half-empty bottles — they will go just fine the next day with the rest of the leftovers.
Here are 11 wines we’ve opened recently that should work perfectly on your Thanksgiving dinner table.
Michelle NV Extra Dry, Columbia Valley, $12: This off-dry bubbly from the winery formerly known as Domaine Ste. Michelle is a crowd-pleaser with its notes of poached pear, crisp apple and clove. Prefer something a bit less sweet? Go with the Michelle Brut Rose.
Leah Jorgensen Cellars 2012 Tour Rain Vin Rouge, Oregon, $25: This blend of Cabernet Franc and Gamay Noir is a delight from first whiff to the last tilt of the glass. The aromas of strawberry, golden raspberry, clove and cocoa powder give way to elegant flavors of red raspberry and bright cherry. The lighter structure is refreshing.
Airfield Estates 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Yakima Valley, $13: This inexpensive white from a family winery in the Yakima Valley is loaded with flavors and acidity, which should help it pair well with most of the dishes on your table.
Gecko Cellars 2012 Barbera Rose, Wahluke Slope, $15: A dry rose is one of the great food wines being crafted in Washington today. This wine from a Woodinville producer is slightly off-dry and loaded with bright acidity.
Kiona Vineyards and Winery 2012 Chardonnay, Washington, $15: Red Mountain’s first winery still is among its best, and this affordable white will satisfy the Chardonnay lovers at your Thanksgiving feast. It’s beautifully aromatic and is loaded with complexity on the palate.
Brandborg Wines 2011 Gewurztraminer, Umpqua Valley, $18: This is consistently one of the top Gewurztraminers in the Pacific Northwest. Gewurztraminer is a soft white wine with complex spiciness that pairs beautifully with dark turkey meat.
Gamache Vintners 2010 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, $27: The Gamache brothers’ vineyard is near Basin City, Wash., and their tasting room is in Prosser. This is one of the best Cab Francs we’ve tasted this year. It is a rich red wine without being too overwhelming to the turkey, spuds or stuffing.
Westport Winery NV Bog Berry Blush, Washington, $26: This blend of Gewurztraminer and cranberry juice from Washington coast bogs is a bit unusual, but its clean cranberry aromas and flavors will pair perfectly with turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes.
L’Ecole No. 41 2010 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $24: A smooth Merlot is just the ticket for those who enjoy bigger reds, and this example from one of the Walla Walla Valley’s oldest wineries is a classic. It’s smoother than a Cabernet Sauvignon and will work a bit better with what’s on your table.
Ponzi Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $35: From one of Oregon’s longtime producers, this is a classic Pinot Noir that offers aromas of raspberry, cherry and violet, followed by bright red fruit flavors.
Ste. Chapelle 2012 Special Harvest Riesling, Snake River Valley, $10: This inexpensive sweet Riesling from Idaho’s oldest and largest producer will end the feast nicely, pairing with everything from pumpkin pie to baked apple topped with vanilla ice cream.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, www.greatnorthwestwine.com.