The leaves are barely falling from the trees, and at my house, it’s already a mad rush to figure out Thanksgiving. I’m blessed with a large family (on my wife’s side) who loves to cook and love to entertain even more. So, over the coming weeks, it will be determined exactly how many Tjanksgiving dinners I’ll attend, whether or not I’ll be wearing the frilly apron for any of them, and exactly how many bottles of wine I’ll be schlepping around.
Finding wine for Thanksgiving is so easy, but I do find that success in picking wine for extended family get-togethers is measured by how many family members manage to get a little tipsy before the meal. Lots of laughs before sitting down? I’ve done my job well. There’s plenty of time to sober up a little before dessert.
Pairing wine and food for Thanksgiving is really about versatility and pleasing the crowd. You know your tastes and your fellow tablemates better than I do, but (especially) for big crowds, you’ll probably be sharing a bottle of wine with someone who rarely drinks wine or who only drinks it for special occasions. Avoid too much oak in your whites, and a little sweetness complements the richness of turkey and all the fixings. For reds, it’s generally best to avoid too much tannin and try to select wine that has some acidity.
While plenty of great wines suitable for Thanksgiving can be sourced from around the world, I firmly believe that it is one of the best holidays to celebrate home-grown Canadian wine.
Bailley-Grohman 2013 Pinot Noir, Creston, British Columbia
It still blows my mind that wine is being made in Creston, British Columbia, but it is no longer surprising that the wine is consistently good. This pinot is positively bursting with sour cherry, clove, plum and vegetable leaf aromas and flavours with a nice weight overall and a touch of tannin. It would kickass with goose or duck, but then again, I think it will go with almost anything. B.C. and AB $19-22
Little Farm 2014 Riesling, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia
Really loving the expression of riesling in this bottle. It’s not too austere, but with dialed in mineral presence and plenty of yellow apple and citrus flavourings. With a little bit of residual sugar, it’s too good to quaff, but too tasty to savour. If you find it on the shelf, just buy multiple bottles. $25 to $36 B.C. and AB
Le Vieux Pin 2014 Syrah “Cuvée Violette”, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
We don’t see a ton of Le Vieux Pin in Alberta, but I’d definitely recommend stopping by if in the area. The Violette is a real stunner, through and through. White pepper, smoked meat, dill, and berry fruits on the nose move into similar flavours with excellent structure and fine balance. Perfectly drinkable (though it will keep) and perfect for braised or marinated red meats, or a selection of your favourite hard cheeses. B.C., AB and ON generally $28-35
50th Parallel 2015 Gewürztraminer, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
I’ll admit I don’t always love this variety, but I really liked the profile and direction this one possesses. Classic flavours of floral tones, citrus, quince, lychee, and of course, a little spice. It carries only a little bit of sweetness, bringing it a lovely sense of balance and quaffability. Loving; just loving the little bit of honey on the finish. B.C., AB About $18-23
Dirty Laundry “Hush” Rosé, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
A blend of pinot noir and merlot. Sure, there is some of those light, summery fruits one expects, like strawberry and raspberry, but here, there is also a good touch of rhubarb and vegetable leaf to add a little savouriness to the palate. I don’t think it’s a summer sipper so much as a rosé for food, like all those harvest vegetables you might be noshing come the holidays. B.C., AB, NB about $14-20
Haywire 2014 Gamay Noir, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Who’s a big fan of B.C. gamay? This guy! The noble grape of Beaujolais is made in a remarkably light style in this expression. You’ll get softer berry fruit with a nice touch of pepper, mild herb and easy tannins. This would be very versatile with foods such as the classic turkey and fixings, or even salmon. $23-25 B.C. and AB
Quails’ Gate 2013 Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
With some lovely stewed plum and tomato leaf aromas, the nose of this one screams out pinot noir in case you missed the words on the label. Tart fruits, and just a little tannin in a position of prominence, this should work with goose or duck or some mesquite smoked turkey, if you like that sort of thing.
Bartier Bros. 2013 Cabernet Franc, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
This is a great example of what the cabernet franc grape is doing in the Okanagan. Gone are those green tannins and under-ripe flavours. Good franc these days is all about strawberry and plum with ginger, pepper and violets on the nose, and not too heavy either. Those smooth, but mid-weight tannins, will be perfectly suited to red meat or game of all types. $20-25 B.C. and AB