If you have no desire to spend Thanksgiving gulping beer like a Pilgrim and would prefer to swirl and sip some vino, here are some great suggestions we discovered while out tasting with fellow oenophiles. All of the choices are under $25 and available at a number of local wine shops, so bring two or three bottles with you and show your hosts tons of appreciation.
Quattro Mani, "toh-kay," Brda, Slovenia, 2009 (under $10)
This stuff is made from the friulano grape by master wine maker Ales Kristancic. It is quite possibly the best white wine under $10. Of Movia fame, his family has been making wines for more than 200 years. They call their process "biodynamic." This is the most natural method of producing wine; think organic agriculture plus a dose of spirituality. "toh-kay" is crisp and slightly tart with fresh melony, citrus notes and even a slight spearminty tinge. This is a great wine to turn pinot grigio lovers onto something new.
Villa Sparina, Gavi di Gavi, Piemonte, Italy, 2008 ($16-$19)
For something a bit richer, Villa Sparina's Gavi di Gavi possesses wonderfully forward aromas of ripe peaches, meyer lemon, poached pears and honeydew. Still within the "crisp" style of wine, this gavi has much deeper body and intensity. Comparing cortese to any other grape is misleading, but think along the lines of the freshness and fruit of sauvignon blanc crossed with the body of a chardonnay. Love this wine with anything.
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Ferraton, "Plan de Dieu," Cotes du Rhone Villages, 2008 ($15-$18)
A blend of grenache, syrah, mourvèdre and carignan, this southern French fave is a perfect match to traditional Thanksgiving fare. It sees absolutely no oak, so the fruit flavors are bright and fresh, almost like the smell of freshly crushed blackberries, currants and plums. The ripe, fruitiness of this wine marries famously alongside the sweet, baking spices we so commonly associate with sweet potato casserole, italian sausage dressing and citrus scented cranberry sauce. It's even delish with a slight chill on it.
Torbreck, "Woodcutter's," Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia ($18 - $21)
This is for those of you who prefer something big and burly. Torbreck's Woodcutter Shiraz will give anyone with wintertime chills a big bear hug. It is a deep, dark purple, densely textured, rich and powerful with concentrated black cherries and blackberries, touch of mocha and sweeping violets. It's most certainly the kind of glass you want to come home to.
We know these wines can be purchased at Whole Foods, but when we called to check prices, we were told they were unable to give the information and our requests had to be submitted to the regional marketing offices. What a load of bull-wash!
In any case, Cheers!