Experts Offer Advice on Thanksgiving Wine Choices

“Thanksgiving is definitely a wine holiday,” says Alex Rubeo, owner of Pound Ridge Wines & Spirit. “Every time you get people together and there’s food, there will be wine involved.

Rubeo believes that when it comes to Thanksgiving wines – an eclectic approach is best. “I believe you can have whatever wine that you want,” he said. “For the appetizers, I’d start with a sparkling wine. Taittinger champagne is a great way to start.”

Pound Ridge Wine & Spirits offers Taittinger for $34.99 a bottle, with discounts available If you buy a case. The Thanksgiving meal traditionally offers multiple flavors – from the turkey to the myriad side dishes. Rubeo said he likes to have a variety of wine types on hand to give guests the opportunity to match them with the the foods they like.

“Not everyone likes the sweet potatoes, but some like the mash potatoes,” he said. “Some like asparagus and some don’t like the turnips. We like to open about six different bottles that will complement the different flavors. You find out which foods they like best and let the guests decide [which wine to drink].”

When it comes to wine, often overlooked is the dessert phase of the meal. “End the meal with a nice dessert wine, like a port or sauterne,” Rubeo said.

One of his favorite ports is Fonseca Porto at $19.99 a bottle. He also recommends sweet ice wines, such as King Estate Vin Glace, an Oregon pinot gris, at $19.99. “It’s sweet like honey,” he said. “We call it liquid gold.”

Mike Novak, proprietor of Cross River Wine Merchant at Orchard Square in Cross River (formerly the Cross River Plaza) agrees with Rubeo:  the holiday calls for more than one type of wine.  

“We recommend serving all three types: red, white and rose,” he said. “Everyone has different tastes. It’s Thanksgiving and there are a lot of different types of food. For example, rose actually goes great with turkey.”

Novak calls rose wines “very food friendly” and notes that they also go great with the appetizers. He recommends Croirde Basson at $14.99 a bottle. For a white wine lovers, Novak endorses serving a California sauvignon blanc.

“It’s drier than other sauvignon blancs,” he said. “The California is not as grape-fruity or citrusy. It’s more subtle with a taste of apples and pears.” The sauvignon blanc he likes best is Whitehall Lane at $14.99 a bottle.

Novak said that New York wine retailers are trying to promote New York state wines during November as part of a promotion called Fall in Love with New York Wine that’s being put on by The Last Store on Main Street – a coalition of retailers, wineries and distributors. With that in mind, for a white wine he also recommends New York winemaker Hermann J. Wiemer’s Riesling Dry.

He says Thanksgiving revelers should not forget about zinfandels either. “Zinfandel is the quintessential American wine and a lot of people have it with turkey,” Novak said. “It’s not going to overpower the food – it will compliment it.” He recommends Joel Gott Zinfandel at $14.99 per bottle.

Both Pound Ridge Wines & Spirits and Cross River Wine Merchant will be open at least part of the day on Thanksgiving to help out last-minute shoppers. Cross River Wine Merchant will be open 9.m. to 1 p.m.

“You have to support the community; we’re providing a service,” Novak said. “It’s very much worth our while to be open. In fact, if we’re not open, people will come to my house.” Pound Ridge Wines & Spirits will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “We’ll be here to help people out,” Rubeo said. “We are here to please.”

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What’s your favorite wine to serve with Thanksgiving dinner?


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