Part 2 – Thanksgiving Wines – What to Buy & Why!


Thanksgiving dinner this is my favorite holiday – bar none! Not sure why that is quite frankly – it just is. I’m not going to bother with the food menu itself, as this is packed with everyone’s traditions, but the wine . . . that’s where I’m going to butt in.

This is the second installment in a series of articles that will discuss the wines I recommend one-by-one or in today’s case – two wines. Because Thanksgiving is usually a lengthy affair, it presents a perfect opportunity to pour a couple of different white wines – after all, isn’t abundance what Thanksgiving is all about? The wines today are Gewurztraminer, preferably from Alsace and Rieslings from Germany.

Riesling, while no longer as popular as it used to be in the US, is considered to be the best and noblest variety of all. Rieslings are vibrant, floral and fruity with mineral aromas and flavors. No wine goes better with food. The crisp acidity, fruitiness, and low percentage of alcohol make Rieslings’ a great food pairing choice almost anytime, and especially for Thanksgiving.

Wine importer Terry Theise says, “Once people try German Rieslings at Thanksgiving, they’ll never drink anything else. I recommend off-dry (Spatlese) versions, because a touch of sweetness matches the sweetness in this meal. The dry wine you think you will be great with the Turkey will be castrated by the candied yams.” Now there’s an image for you!!

If you are interested in something different and a tad exotic, try a Gewurztraminer from Alsace (a region in France). Gewurztraminers, which means “spicy grapes,” are distinctive, very aromatic wines with honeysuckle-rose petal and lichee-apricot-grapefruit aromas and flavors and a rich, luscious, almost oily texture. They’re full bodied white wines and complement the heavier parts of a meal. Their spicy tendencies go well with the cranberry sauce, stuffing and other side dishes.

Robert Parker once wrote in Food and Wine magazine about the wines he pours at Thanksgiving; “I believe that the stuffing dictate the type of wine that should be served,” he said. “Our stuffing is … a spicy, boldly flavored bread, sausage and celery combination …. While the turkey itself has relatively straightforward flavors and could easily be matched with a multitude of medium- to full-bodied white wines, the addition of the sausage and aromatic poultry seasoning in the stuffing requires a wine of considerable richness and unmistakable personality.” That wine, Parker wrote, is an Alsatian Gewurztraminer.

Here are my suggestions on which Rieslings and Gewurztraminer’s to buy for Thanksgiving – all of them available at Amazing Grapes Wine Store. Prices can vary quite a bit, so I’ll group them in to price categories of low, medium and high. Regardless of your budget, they’re all delicious:

Low price:
Reuscher-Haart 2007 Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Spatlese – $22.98
Helfrich 2007 Gewurztraminer – $9.98

Medium price:
Baron Knyphausen 2007 Erbacher Steinmorgen Riesling Spatlese – $32.98
Mill Creek 2006 Gewurztraminer – $13.98

High price:
Domaine Ostertag 2006 Muenchberg Alsace Grand Cru Riesling – $54.98
Gundlach Bundschu 2006 Rhinefarm Vineyard Gewurztraminer – $20.98