Episode 29: Nicole Abiouness, Abiouness Wines

Abiouness Wines

On this episode of Crystal Palate’s Wine Country, I am talking with Nicole Abiouness of Abiouness Wines. Nicole is a Virginia native turned California winemaker who is getting quite a reputation for her Pinot Noir. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought it was the perfect time to learn more about this elegant and seductive grape.

“When it’s great, Pinot Noir produces he most complex, hedonistic and remarkably thrilling red wine in the world…” Robert Parker

“..are sensous, often erotic, above rational discourse, and beyond measured criticism” Oz Clarke

“at their best, Pinot Noirs are the 3 most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.”-Joel Fleischmann, Vanity Fair

“choke full of incredible texture and hedonistic pleasures”-Madeline Triffon MS

Nicole will talk about her Pinot portfolio and her passion for Burgundy. She will also tell us all about her winemaking journey that has taken her all around the world. She also dishes on the one wine in her line-up that her family won’t let her stop making. Enjoy the show!

Episode 1: Christine Vrooman, Ankida Ridge Vineyards

Welcome to Crystal Palate’s Wine Country! My guest this week is Christine Vrooman, owner of Ankida Ridge Vineyards in Amherst, VA.  Ankida is known as “The Little Burgundy” of Virginia. The name Ankida is an ancient sumerian term that means where heaven and earth join. One trip to this majestic property you quickly understand why they chose that name. On the program, Christine discuss their great success with burgundian varietals (Chardonnay & Pinot Noir) on a very small parcel of land in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and how their wine is getting international attention with a special invite to a critically acclaimed conference in Oregon. I am also taking part in the 2016 vintage experience at Ankida Ridge and will be producing a mini-documentary on the experience that will be released later this year. Stay tuned!


Wedding Wines

wine.comTis the season for love, laughter, beautiful brides, handsome grooms, breathtaking venues, delicious food and inevitably bad “banquet wine!”  I am always amazed at how many brides obsess over every detail from the gown to the flowers to the photographer to the caterer, but when it comes to the wine selection, it’s usually a complete afterthought. Did you know that wedding wines can be affordable and delicious?! It’s true! I have been to so many  weddings where I end up drinking club soda or a beer  because the wine selection may as well be alcohol-infused cherry cough syrup.  Ladies, you deserve better and so do your guests.

One of my recent clients really wanted to serve Veuve Clicquot for the wedding toast, however the venue had a very steep mark-up on that bottle. Let’s keep things in perspective, your guests will most likely never see the bottle of bubbly. The venue or caterer typically pours the sparkling in the back and hand-delivers or tray-passes the flutes to your guests. There are some amazing bottles of Champagne and other sparkling wines around the world that won’t break the bank.  By selecting a lesser known and equally delicious Champagne, I was able to save the bride more than $1,200, just on the sparkling selection alone. I love Veuve. It’s a great choice, especially when budget doesn’t matter, but it’s like buying a high-end car, you are paying for the name. Why not save a special bottle for toasting in your honeymoon suite instead. 

For the toast, why not choose a Cremant, Cava, Sekt or American bubbly? No need to stress out over this, I am here to offer some tips on selecting the perfect wedding wines for the most important day of your life. I also offer bridal consulting services, if you need some personal guidance! After all, every detail really does matter.

Sparkling – Sparkling wine is produced around the world. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly alternative to Champagne look for a Cava, Sekt, Cremant or a great bottle of American bubbly. Here a couple of my favorite bottles under $30.

Here are some great white and red ideas for food friendly varietals to serve at your wedding:

White Wine – Believe it or not, you don’t have to serve a Chardonnay at your wedding. While it’s the most planted white grape in America, the quality level varies greatly! It is one of the world’s most manipulated grapes. Truth be told, it’s difficult to find an astounding thought-provoking delightful Chardonnay for under $25 bottle. The budget wines boasting bare feet and fuzzy animals are not varietally sound and don’t resemble anything near a true Chardonnay. Why not be creative and serve a crisp, refreshing Albarino or Soave? Most people will ask for white or red, it’s that simple. Just because your great aunt only drinks white Zinfandel or your neighbor only drinks Chardonnay, don’t cater to one guest! If the wine is delicious and it works with the food and the season, they’ll love it. Trust me!

  • Off-dry Riesling – A touch of residual sugar and intense acidity make this an incredible versatile wine with an array of dishes from a raw bar to soups to salads to spicy dishes.
  • Albarino  –  A  briny, crisp and delightful white offering floral notes or gardenia, white peach and citrus makes for a great choice for spring and summer weddings.
  • Soave – A fabulously fun alternative to Pinot Grigio. This wine made from the Garganega grape hails from the same region in Italy, but has a bit more personality than the run of the mill Pinot Grigio. Dare to be different, your guest will thank you for it. Think hors d’ouevres, salads, vegetarian and seafood courses

Red Wine – I like to opt for a lighter, fruit forward red for wedding wines when possible. They tend to be more versatile with a wide selection and they have less tannins, which stain your teeth. I am just thinking about your photos here!

  • Pinot Noir – Pairs equally well with beef tenderloin and mushrooms as it does with salmon. This thin-skinned grape offers bright acidity, moderate tannins and tends to boast bountiful aromas of red berries, currants, cranberries, with hints of earth, spice and mushroom, depending on where it’s grown. Looking for values? Try a Village Burgundy, Spatburgunder, or Chilean Pinot Noir.
  • Pinot Meunier – It’s one of the three grapes allowed in Champagne production and it’s one of the most widely planted grapes in France. It’s a unique and great alternative to Pinot Noir.
  • Beaujolais – This lovely wine produced from the Gamay grape is best served with a slight chill. It’s just as versatile as Pinot but a little more fruit forward and laid back.

If you are interested in learning more about my bridal consulting services, send me an email at events@foryourloveofwine.com. I would love to hear from you. Here’s to many years of wedded bliss and great wine!


Top 5 Wines to Pair with Salmon

With every new year comes a resolve to get a little healthier for many of us. Whether you vow to lose a few pounds or simply lower your cholesterol, wine can play a role in your healthy lifestyle. There are many studies extolling the health benefits associated with wine and it’s low carb too! A 5 ounce pour of dry white wine has roughly 120 calories and 4 grams of carbs. The same pour of dry red wine has 130 calories and 6 carbs. So rest assured, you can have your wine and drink it too, as long as it’s in moderation.

In this week’s top 5 list, you will find some great wine pairing ideas for heart healthy salmon. Keep in mind when it comes to creating the perfect pairing, sauces and seasoning play a critical role. Salmon is a delicious fatty fish that requires a wine with substantial acidity to cut through the oiliness of the fish.

Top 5 Wines to Pair with Salmon 

1. Sancerre – Sancerre is a region in the Loire Valley of France that produces intense mineral driven wines with piercing acidity made from the  Sauvignon Blanc grape. This is the perfect companion for seared salmon salad or a mediterranean preparation with feta and capers.

2. Soave – This is a great alternative to Pinot Grigio. Soave is an appellation within the Veneto area of Italy. This wine is made primarily from the Garganega grape. It’s a light bodied dry white wine with fragrant aromas of citrus and stone fruit. The mouthwatering acidity make it a great pairing with salmon. Pair this smoked salmon or a lemon caper preparation.  Look for the word “Classico” on the label, this term indicates that the wine came from a better vineyard site.

3. Rosé  – It’s time to rethink pink. While rosés are made throughout the world, a mineral driven dry rosé from Provence, France or Germany are the perfect dancing partners with  salmon. I particularly love this pairing with a salmon salad over a bed of arugula with strawberries and goat cheese. Many rosés boast juicy berry aromas and have piercing acidity that make it so incredibly perfect with fatty salmon. This wine acts like a little windshield wiper cleansing your palate in between bites.

4. Pinot Noir – If your preparation and side dishes are on the earthier side of the spectrum  like a mushroom demi-glace with a fennel gratin, opt for a lighter red with higher acidity like Pinot Noir. Some of my favorite Pinot’s come from Burgundy, Carneros, Russian River Valley and  Willamette Valley.  For great values try experimenting with Chilean Pinot Noir, German Spatburgunder or Italian Pinot Nero.

5. Cabernet Franc – This blending grape of Bordeaux is experiencing great promise in America. It’s actually referred to as the Pinot of Bordeaux. When picked at the peak of perfection you will experience an earthy wine with bountiful aromas of juicy red raspberry, violet and sage. This is a perfect pairing with seared salmon with a Herbs de Provence crust and lentils.


Turkey Sliders & Pinot Noir

Thanksgiving leftovers seem to be the gift that keeps on giving.  From soups to sandwiches and everything in between, it’s easy to lose your love of the bird after a day or two.  If you’re stuck in a rut, check out these turkey salad sliders for a delicious spin on that boring turkey sandwich. Or you can easily substitute left over roast chicken for this recipe. Pair with your favorite Pinot Noir for a perfect meal! The vibrant red berry fruit profile and tart cranberry aromas in Pinot makes it a great complement to the cranberry sauce. Since chicken and turkey breast are both leaner cuts of meat, it goes well with a wine with low to moderate tannins like a Pinot Noir.

Recipe: Turkey Salad Sliders


12 dinner rolls (White House or King’s Hawaiian)
3 cups shredded turkey
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 ounces blue cheese (stilton, gorgonzola or roquefort)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt (more to taste if desired)
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
2 stalks celery (fine dice)
1 small shallot (fine dice)
1 pear or apple (small dice)
1/2 cup walnuts or pecan (course chop)
1 cup cranberry sauce (spread on top of dinner roll)
Butter (to baste dinner roll)


Split dinner rolls and baste each side with a little melted butter, grill on a griddle to golden brown. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix mayo, sour cream, vinegar, mustard, blue cheese and seasonings and mix until all ingredients are combined. Add turkey, celery, shallot, pear/apple and walnuts and gently fold all ingredients together.

Add turkey salad mixture to bottom of dinner roll and top with a generous spoonful of cranberry sauce. Add a little arugula for a touch of green. Enjoy!


Pair with a glass of Sparkling Rose, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or Riesling. Check out my top 10 under $30 Thanksgiving wines for some additional inspiration on wine pairings for your holiday leftovers.



Thanksgiving Wines: Top 10 Under $30

Selecting the perfect Thanksgiving wine doesn’t have to be a source of stress and it doesn’t have to break the bank.  Consider starting your festivities with a sparkling rosé as an aperitif and then opt for a white and red option for your main course and let your guests decide what pairing they enjoy the most.

When it comes to selecting the wines, look for a white wine with moderate to high acidity like a Riesling or minimally oaked Chardonnay to cut right through the gravy and cream sauces. You also want something with some structure to stand up to the heavier dishes. When it comes to red wine, opt for a fruit forward like a Beaujolais or Pinot Noir with moderate tannins. Keep in mind, turkey is a blank canvas and pretty lean, so something too tannic will compete against the food. Even an aged Cabernet Sauvignon can work well, since the tannins have had a chance to mellow. After you have spent all day in the kitchen, the last thing you want is for the wine to overpower your meal. You want the wine to become a vinous highlighter working in concert with every dish, not competing for top billing!

In my top 10 under $30 list you’ll find a couple of classic selections from around the world and a few hidden gems that will please even the pickiest palate. I encourage you to drink outside the b0x and explore a new wine this holiday season. Cheers!


Gruet Brut Rose, New Mexico, USA – SRP: $16.99

This is hands down one of the best sparkling wines for the money. Aromas of rose petals, juicy strawberry, raspberry, cherry, cranberry and fresh baked danishes give way to a fruit forward palate with refreshing acidity.  Serve this as an aperitif or keep it simple this year and select this wine to serve with everything on your Thanksgiving table. The sparkler is made from 100% Pinot Noir and will be a real crowd pleaser!

Schramsberg Blancs de Noir, California, USA – SRP: $30

America’s oldest sparkling wine house never disappoints. The Blancs de Noir is a perfect choice for any celebration. This sparkling wine is made in the traditional method with a blend of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay.  Aromas of  meyer lemon, peach, raspberry, toasted hazelnut and fresh baked croissants dance in your glass. The palate boasts layers of delicious candied pineapple, crystallized ginger, and sweet citrus notes with a fine bead and refreshing acidity.


Hi-Def Riesling, Mosel, Germany – SRP: $16

It’s time to rethink Riesling this holiday season. Riesling is one of the most versatile wines on the planet and a no-brainer when you have many layers of complex flavors on your dinner table.  The high acidity and low alcohol content offers a nice counterpoint to many dishes.  This off-dry wine has layers of jasmine, bright citrus and juicy stone fruit on the nose followed by a hint of spice. The palate echoes the flavor profile and adds a burst of vibrant acidity and a touch of residual sugar. Other Rieslings to consider in this price point are the Dr. L Riesling from Dr. Loosen and the Kung Fu Girl Riesling out of Washington State.

Michael Shaps “Spring Meadow Mountain” Chardonnay, Monticello, Virginia SRP: $24

Yes, you read that right. A Virginia Chardonnay! Michael Shaps has garnered a reputation for being one of the top winemakers in Virginia and his Chardonnay from Wild Meadow Vineyard does not disappoint. Complex layers of  sweet meyer lemon, baked apple, pear skin, hazelnut and kettle corn dance in your glass. The palate echoes the aromas and adds a touch of sweet spice and toffee. The wine has a creamy mouthfeel, refreshing acidity and a long lingering finish. Read my full review on the Michael Shaps Chardonnay here.

Jefferson Viognier, Monticello, Virginia – SRP: $26

Viognier is an excellent choice for Thanksgiving. It’s an exotic aromatic white grape that has the floral characteristics of a Riesling and the body of a Chardonnay.  Viognier loves exotic dishes like Thai and Indian food, but I really find it works well with many of your Thanksgiving side dishes. This is an aromatic wine with notes of sweet jasmine, honeysuckle, nectarine, candied lemon, tangerine zest and tropical fruit.  The palate echoes the aromatic profile and finishes with hints of cardamom, ginger and white pepper.  This medium bodied wine has a round mouthfeel, good balance and a soft lingering finish. It’s a real crowd pleaser. Jefferson sells out quickly, you may be able to find a bottle at your local wine shop in Virginia. Other great alternative include the Michael Shaps, Chrysalis and Veritas Viognier. Read my full review on the Jefferson Viognier here.

Reds & Rose

Von Buhl Spatburgunder, Mosel, Germany – SRP: $20

Spatburgunder is the German name for Pinot Noir, This is a cool climate Pinot at its best. The Von Buhl boasts  floral aromas of violet, bright red berry flavors of strawberry, raspberry and cranberry and a touch of mandarin zest lead to a palate bursting with red fruit, lively minerality and piercing acidity.  This wine is the perfect compromise for the red & white lovers in your life.

Barboursville Cabernet Franc Reserve, Orange County, Virginia, USA SRP: $24

Did you know that Cabernet Franc is considered the Pinot Noir of Bordeaux? It’s also a parent grape to the more robust Cabernet Sauvignon. Cab Franc is a lighter and more herbaceous often giving off hints of raspberry, plum, violet & sage.  The Cab Franc Reserve from Barboursville is one of the best examples of this grape in the United States.  Aromatic layers of plum, raspberry, cherry, cedar, cigar box, dusty violet, sweet spice and a touch of sage are inviting to your senses. The palate is well integrated with velvety tannins and long lingering finish.  This is a perfect companion paired with sausage, sage & cranberry stuffing!

Jean Marc Burgaud Morgon,  Beaujolais, France – SRP: $25

If you think all Beaujolais are simple and a little too fruity, think again. While Beaujolais Nouveau is designed to be a drink now proposition, the Beaujolais Cru’s can be mind blowing with layers of complexity. Beaujolias is a region located in southern Burgundy. The wines from this area are made from the Gamay grape. When searching for a Beaujolais, look for appellations on the label like Morgon, Fleurie or Cote de Brouilly. You’ll find great quality in the $20-$25 price point. If you want a splurge, seek out a selection from the Moulin-Vent appellation.

This fruit forward wine has aromas of juicy red berries, cherry and candied notes with hints of graphite on the nose.  The palate is bone-dry and filled with intense red fruits, vivid minerality and soft lush tannins.

Siduri Pinot Meunier, Sonoma California, USA – SRP: $25

Pinot Meunier is part of the holy trinity of grapes allowed in Champagne along with its distant cousin Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.   This is an excellent alternative to Pinot Noir. Domaine Chandon from Carneros also makes a lovely version!

The Siduri offers aromas of juicy red fruits that are followed quickly by a meaty, earthy characteristic with hints of smoke, anise and mushroom. This is a medium bodied wine with good acidity, soft tannins and a lingering finish.

Hendry Zinfandel (Block 7 &22), Napa Valley, California, USA – SRP: $30

If you are searching for a bolder option this year that won’t overpower your meal, consider this great Zinfandel from Hendry Vineyards. They have been producing wine in Napa for more than 70 years and they do an exceptional job.  This is such a warm, inviting wine with fruit forward aromas of juicy berries, cherries, plum and vanilla bean followed by some earthy and savory characteristics of asian five spice, cedar, tobacco. The 2010 vintage offers smooth tannins and a long lingering finish. Cheers!


Beef Bourguignon & Burgundy

Julia Child started inspiring amateur cooks and housewives across America when she first brought us her famous Boeuf Bourguignon recipe on The French ChefThis recipe takes about 30 minutes to pull together and another 2 plus hours for cooking, but it’s so worth it! Plus, you’ll have lots of leftovers.

The classic pairing for beef bourguignon is none other than an elegant Burgundy.  For those that don’t know, red Burgundy is made from 100% Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region of France. Until recently, French wine laws did not allow producers to put the varietal on the label.  A change in wine laws now permits this to help European wine makers compete on a more global scale. However, many producers in France are very traditional and have not implemented these changes. When you are shopping in a wine store and see Burgundy on the label and no mention of Pinot Noir, rest assured it’s made from the Pinot grape. There is one exception to this – Beaujolais. Beaujolais is an appellation within Burgundy that’s known for a red wine made from the Gamay grape. While Grand Cru Burgundies are among the most sought after collectible wines in the world, there are some great values out there.  Your best values are going to come from the Côte Chalonnaise in southern Burgundy. Look for the following region on the bottles (Rully, Mercurey and Givrey). With that said, your favorite Pinot Noir will work just fine with this dish. I am going to stay true to the French tradition and reach for a bottle of Burgundy! Here are a few great choices for some inspiration if you want to explore a Burgundy.

Recipe: Beef Bourguignon (Note: This is my paleo-friendly version)


3 lbs pot roast (stew meat)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 & 1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. Herbs de Provence
4 thyme & rosemary sprigs (tie with kitchen string)
1/2 bottle of Pinot Noir or Burgundy
1 tbsp. tomato paste

1 medium yellow onion (medium dice)
2 small sweet potatoes (medium dice)
4 carrots (cut on angle – 1/2 inch pieces)
2 parsnips (cut on angle – 1/2 inch pieces)
1 cup portobello mushrooms (sliced)
1 bag of pearl onions
1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)


Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

Pat beef dry with paper towels. Season with salt, pepper & garlic powder on all sides. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.
Sear beef in batches. About 3-4 minutes per side should give you a nice sear. Don’t crowd the pan! Transfer beef to a bowl. Set aside. Add diced onion to pan and cook for about 5-10 minutes in beef fat to get another layer of flavor. Add carrots, sweet potatoes, & parsnips. Mix with onions to get all your veggies covered with all that beefy goodness. Add tomato paste and integrate with veggies.  Add wine a little at a time and deglaze the pan.  Add stew meat back to pan, mushrooms, Herbs de Provence, rosemary & thyme sprigs and chicken or beef stock. Make sure all the meat and veggies are covered. Cook for at least 2 hours in the oven. I usually let mine cook for about 3 hours. The longer you cook it, the more tender the beef is. If you choose to thicken the sauce, mix 1 tbsp. almond flour and 1 tbsp. grape seed or olive oil in a small ramekin until well combined and add to stew.  Add parsley and serve. Serves 8.


Paleo Pairing: Salmon & Pinot Noir

Four days into my New Year’s resolution and I am still going strong with the Paleo plan. I have found that this plan is fairly easy to stick with as long as you take time to prepare ahead  The bonus for me is that The Paleo Diet allows wine in moderation and since I am a Sommelier, wine is an integral part of my daily living.  I am chronicling my journey through the month of January so I can introduce you to some great wine pairings for the nights you do want to indulge with a little sip of wine while sticking to your healthy resolution. Today’s recipe is a sumptuous meal that only takes minutes to prepare.

Day 4 Recipe: Seared Salmon w/Sauteed Spinach paired w/Pinot Noir


4 – 6oz salmon filets
11oz spinach
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp. dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio)
1 tbsp. Herbs de Provence
1 tsp. salt (plus a pinch for the spinach)
1/2 tsp. pepper (plus a pinch for the spinach)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees, then heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it’s hot.  While the cast iron skillet is heating up, take 1 tbsp. olive oil and lightly brush both sides of the salmon filets to ensure the seasonings adhere to the fish.  I am personally not a huge fan of the skin, so I have my fish monger take the skins off to make the cooking process a little easier. Keep in mind that you don’t need much olive oil because the fish has plenty of fat already. Once you have a thin coating of olive oil, sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence.  Place salmon in skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the fish and place in the oven for 5 minutes for medium rare-medium.

After you place the fish in the oven, drizzle the remaining olive oil in the pan with the garlic and let simmer for about 1 minute to release the aromatics.  Then add spinach and white wine and  let wilt. This usually takes about 2-3 minutes. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Remove fish from oven. Let rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve over a bed of spinach.

I have a couple of great wine pairings for this dish, depending on what you are in the mood for.  I really enjoy a Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier with this dish. I love the way the Herbs de Provence with its notes of lavender, thyme and rosemary bring out some of the beautiful notes in the Pinots.

If you are looking for a white wine, I absolutely love a great Sancerre with this meal.  Sancerre and salmon are an amazing pairing! If you are going with this option add a squeeze of lemon juice to the fish and spinach. The bright acidity and minerality cleanse your palate in between bites making you yearn for another delicious bite of that rich, succulent salmon. This is definitely a match made in heaven!

Bon Appetit!

Wine Recommendations: (I am including the places that the wine is available for people living Hampton Roads, Virginia.)

Pinot Noir

Under $20

Angeline Pinot Noir, California – Shady Grove Marketplace (Norfolk), Total Wine


Novy Pinot Meunier, California – Press 626 (Norfolk)


Talbott’s Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, California – Yianni’s Wine Shop
Chateau de Chamirey, Mercurey, Burgundy, France  –  Total Wine


$20 – Christian Salmon, Loire Valley – Total Wine
$25 – Domaine Vincent Delaporte – Yianni’s Wine Shop, Virginia Beach

Thanksgiving Wine Pairings: Uncorked

Selecting the perfect Thanksgiving wine  pairings can leave you with a serious case of heartburn, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Whether you are hosting the holiday meal or simply in charge of bringing the wine, let me help ease that holiday stress by taking the guesswork out of Thanksgiving wine pairings.

I always like to start with a glass of sparkling for the appetizer course as a nice way to wake up your palate. I also like to serve a white and red option with the main course.

My favorite varietals for Thanksgiving include the white aromatic grapes (Riesling, Gewurtztraminer and Viognier), Chenin Blanc and of course Chardonnay.

I had the opportunity to attend the Virginia Wine Summit last month at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. We sampled Viogniers from around the world and the Virginia Viogniers really made quite an impression. At its best, Viognier has the creamy viscosity of Chardonnay, the floral, fruit and spice notes of a Riesling or Gewurtraminer and the refreshing acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc, making it a very attractive partner for your Thanksgiving feast.

When it comes to red, think about wines that boast bright fruit and good acidity. I gravitate to Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Gamay (Beaujolais) and Cabernet Franc. A little wine trivia – did you know that Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon? I also wouldn’t rule out a great rosé especially from Provence. Many people only drink rosé in the summer, but you are really missing out. This is perhaps one of the most versatile Thanksgiving wine pairings with its bright red fruit and vibrant acidity. This is a wine that should be served chilled and is bound to please both red and white drinkers. If you are looking for one wine to get you through the entire meal, reach for a sparkling rosé.  I love the J Brut Rosé as a nice mid-price option or if you want to splurge reach for the Veuve Clicquot Rosé Brut.

Pinot Meunier is a clone of Pinot Noir and is one of the grapes used in Champagne. The best examples boast fruit notes of raspberry and cranberry in addition to nice herbal and floral notes which make it a lovely match with that homemade cranberry sauce and stuffing.  I am going to make a sweet sausage and sage stuffing with cranberries, this is sure to be a match made in heaven!

Keep in mind that turkey has a pretty neutral flavor, so you really want to keep your side dishes in mind when choosing your wines. Most sides tend to have lots of cream and butter, so I really try to choose wines that have a crisp refreshing acidity that will cut through that fat and cleanse your palate in between bites.

If you are serving ham instead of turkey, a Cabernet Franc or Gewurztraminer will be your best choice. With so many options, why not try drink outside the box and try something new this year?  Now, “Go eat your food with gladness and drink your wine with a joyful heart for it is now that God favors what you do.”  ~Ecclesiastes 9:7

Happy Thanksgiving!

Note: Most of the vintages listed below are current releases. Sparkling wines listed without a vintage are non-vintage or NV.

Sparkling Wine

Inexpensive (Under $15)

Mid-Price ($15-$30)

Premium ($30-$50)

Splurge ($50 & Over)

White Wine

Inexpensive (Under $15)

Mid-Price ($15-$30)

Premium ($30-$50)

Splurge ($50 & Over)

Red Wine

Inexpensive (Under $15)

Mid-Price ($15-$30)

Premium ($30-$50)

Splurge ($50 & Over)