The Pocket Guide: 5 Wines for Every Thanksgiving Table

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Now that the fuzzy socks and chunky scarves are making their way out of the closet, it’s time to concede that the November chill has officially arrived. Unpleasant as the flashbacks to last year’s Polar Vortex may be, the cold air brings with it the promise of the year’s most delicious holiday – Thanksgiving. Turkey, stuffing, and pie (both pecan and pumpkin) are just the tip of the gluttonous iceberg.

Of course, no feast would be complete without some good wine to go along with it. I love a nice glass of wine. You, having made it over a paragraph into this post, probably at least have a moderate interest in it, too.

But if we’re being totally honest, most people don’t know that much about wine. They may know they like it. They may think red goes with meat and white goes with fish. They might even have learned that having a glass can elevate what would otherwise be an unapologetic cheese binge into a more refined dining experience.

No matter where one’s knowledge falls on the spectrum of wine expertise, the prospect of choosing the right bottle for the right occasion can be a daunting task.

That’s where this handy guide comes in. This month, to honor Thanksgiving, we’ve selected five American wines of several grape varietals and for varying budgets*. Going home to see your family? We’ve got that covered. Friendsgiving? That, too. First holiday with your boyfriend’s family? Don’t worry about it (at least the wine part). We’re giving you an easy breakdown of what to buy and where to bring it.

Pinot Project Pinot Noir
Price: $9.99
Label appeal: Rock star faded font and the warning “this label will self-destruct in 5 seconds”
Where to bring it: Friendsgiving

Why: While it’s usually best to be wary of cheap reds, the Pinot Project is a fantastic steal at under $10. With a taste to fit its riotous label, the Pinot Project is a well-balanced blend with a bit of a kick. A perfect pairing for dark turkey meat and pecan pie, the Pinot Project is a sophisticated choice to anchor your debaucherous Friendsgiving.

Bonterra Merlot
Price: $15.99
Label appeal: Understated and avian. Put a bird on it.
Where to bring it: Your first time hosting Thanksgiving

Why: Thanksgiving can be a stressful time for anyone, but when you’re the host pressure can take on a whole new meaning. From orchestrating the seating arrangements to finding an edible gluten-free stuffing recipe for your roommate, there are roughly ten million tasks on your plate that you never thought you’d care about. We get it. Take a breath. We’re taking the wine off your plate. The Bonterra merlot is a full-bodied, berry-rich wine that will partner well with heavy Thanksgiving food. Its claret color also adds a jewel-like tone that you won’t mind having on your rug forever because, let’s be honest, someone’s going to spill something.

Wente Chardonnay
Price: $13.99
Label appeal: Classic and traditional
Where to bring it: First Thanksgiving with your boyfriend’s family

Why: If I’m being totally honest, I don’t always love Chardonnay. In fact, I rarely order it when given the choice. But this Wente is a wine I can get behind. Fruity and bold without being overwhelming, this dependable high quality Chardonnay is smooth and clear. The vineyard’s history (it was founded in 1883) is also a nice conversation starter.

Honig Sauvignon Blanc
Price: $16.99
Label appeal: Lovely, pastoral, artistic
Where to bring it: Dinner with your eco-friendly family

Why: Let’s be superficial for a second. This is a beautiful bottle of wine. I initially brought it home based on nothing more than aesthetic appeal. But there’s more to love beyond the label. This family owned, sustainably farmed vineyard is solar powered and supports a wildlife habitat. Lightly citrusy and refreshing, it tastes fantastic too. You can’t go wrong with the flavor and you can certainly feel good about supporting a vineyard committed to sustainability and beautiful bottles.

Sterling Cabernet Sauvignon
Price: $17.99
Label appeal: Minimalist, stark, dark
Where to bring it: Home to your family

Why: Let’s not mince words: this is a great wine. It’s bold and not too sweet, deep in color and delicious. Smooth, complex and bite-free, your parents will be impressed and appreciative and you can feel good about spending less than $20 on showing you’re committed to making this a special family gathering.

*Please note that prices may vary


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1394057_10200702247463101_256931400_nI’m Molly Fessenden and I am avid reader, writer, traveler, and eater. A native New Yorker, I’ve just moved back home after spending two years in Boston, where I began my career in digital media. I started writing for the Women’s iLab with the intention of sharing my thoughts on all things good. From books and food to wine and travel, there’s so much to enjoy and so little time to get around to actually doing it. The goal of the Pocket Guide is to provide you with some brief highlights of things worth reading, seeing, tasting, and doing.
Read more about and from the author: Molly’s WiLab Profile