Thanksgiving Wines: Six Under $12
Be thankful you don't have to pick one wine to go with everything in the traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner. Something that pairs with 18 dishes from mashed potatoes to sweet potatoes to Brussels sprouts to pumpkin pie... it's enough to give even Johnny Sommelier himself a mental hernia trying to fit a wine's octagonal peg into the meal's trapezoidal hole.
So the first thing to do is relax. It's just a bird for dinner, albeit a big bird and a very big dinner.
Second is to forget about finding that one perfect bottle; even if it does exist, you probably can't afford it. Instead, pick up a couple of bottles (or more, depending on the number of dinner guests, their tastes, and your pocketbook) that will play well with different dishes. Say, a wine for the turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes, another wine for the sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and pumpkin pie. (Don't worry about the cranberry sauce; it doesn't play well with anything besides furniture polish.)
Here's a half-dozen wines -- two reds, two whites, two rosés -- all under $12 -- that won't make you feel like a turkey on the Big Day. And I guarantee none of them tastes like furniture polish.
D'Arenberg 2008 The Stump Jump. Named for a plough that allowed growers to more easily till root and stump-riddled soil, this Australian blend of Shiraz (spicy), Grenache (fruity), and Mourvedre (earthy) can stand up to the heartiest T-Day dishes yet is so well-structured that it won't overwhelm less-hardy foods.
Casa SantOrsola 2009 Dolcetta d'Alba. You might call Dolcetta Italy's answer to Beaujolais, but this Italian product adds a bit of intrigue to the varietal's characteristic fresh, bright, strawberry-red cherry flavors with aromas that hint at roast beef (honest) and undercurrents of cloves and allspice on the palate.
Bodega Callia 2009 Torrontes. My new favorite white wine, the Torrontes grape (the white wine grape of Argentina) delivers the beguiling floral, citrusy aromas and flavors of Viognier and Albarino at a much lower price. This one delivers some added body and peach-mango richness, making it a fine match for turkey.
Liberty School 2008 Central Coast Chardonnay. This cool-climate Chardonnay offers everything fans of California Chardonnays love, though without the often excessive ripeness, alcohol, and oak. It tastes of baked apple with a firm lemon-lime acidity and a dollop of toasty oak, all in a rich, mouth-filling package.
Jean-Luc Colombo 2008 Cape Bleue Rosé. Pink wines like this Provencal product are an excellent answer to the "What the hell do I pour on Thanksgiving?" question. Think flavors of tart raspberries and strawberries, preceded by floral, rose-petal aromas and followed by a long, crisp citrus finish.
Depreville NV Brut Rosé. Sparkling wine with your Thanksgiving meal? Why the hell not, especially if it's this lovely and quite affordable bubbly? In the glass, it smells like green apples, rose petals, and fresh-baked bread, with those millions of pinpoint bubbles carrying vaguely raspberryish and rose-petal flavors.