5 Wines to DRINK this Thanksgiving

We know there are plenty of lists out there on wines to pair with foods on Thanksgiving. But what about a list that is devoted entirely to wines meant for drinking? Period. No fuss over pairing with certain foods–just sip, dice that onion, sip, slice those carrots, sip, peel those potatoes, sip, take in some football, sip, play catch with the dog, sip, sit and watch everyone else slaving away in the kitchen. Yes… this is your Thanksgiving Drink Only List and you deserve it.


Navarro copy

Pick by: Peter Marks, MW, instructor, Napa Valley Wine Academy
Wine: Navarro 2014 Gewürztraminer, Anderson Valley, Mendocino
Grapes: 100% Gewürztraminer
SRP: $19.50
Site: navarrowine.com

My thanksgiving is never without a bottle of Gewürztraminer in the house. On this traditional American holiday, I’d like to recommend one of America’s best – Navarro Gewürzt. The reasons are simple. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and the first bottle of wine I fell in love with was Gewürztraminer. Plus, it’s one of the few wines that won’t be overwhelmed by the smorgasbord of flavors served with the turkey. This wine has it all – floral, spicy flavors to enjoy with the pizzazz of Thanksgiving foods and a crisp citrus zest to keep the palate fresh so you can eat as much as you like. From the moment the guests arrive through to the pumpkin pie, you can’t go wrong with Gewurzt!


Pick by: Christian Oggenfuss, D.W.S., AIWS, FWS, IWP, partner & chief eduction officer, Napa Valley Wine Academy
Wine: Saget La Perrière 2014 Marie de Beauregard Vouvray, Loire Valley
Grapes: 100% Chenin Blanc
SRP: $22
Site: pasternakwine.com

I selected tis wine for thanksgiving because it is one of the few styles on wine that are up to the task of being paired with the multitude of flavors that one encounters on T-Day. It can handle the savory dishes, the sweet tart dishes, and everything in between. In addition is is lower in alcohol (11%) so enjoying an extra glass or two is more than possible–it is required! This is a wine that has a great balance between the acidity and ripeness of the grape, giving it a wonderful texture. When teaching about Loire for our French Wine Society classes this is a wine that seems to be a hit with everyone.

Smith Madrone

Pick by: Jurg Oggenfuss, WMD, C.S.W., WSET-Certified, partner & instructor, Napa Valley Wine Academy
Wine: Smith-Madrone 2014 Riesling, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley
Grapes: 100% Riesling
SRP: $27
Site: smithmadrone.com

From 42-year old vines with just 1551 cases produced, this is a wonderful sipping wine. Unlike anything you would expect from Napa Valley: nice acidity, clean and pronounced varietal character. Stu and Charle’s finest!


Pick by: Catherine Bugue, DWS., IWP, AWS, partner, & director of education, Napa Valley Wine Academy
Wine: Lang & Reed 2014 Chenin Blanc, Talmage Bench, Mendocino 
Grapes: 100% Chenin Blanc
SRP: $27
Site: langandreed.com

The ultimate producers of your Thanksgiving red–fruity and vibrant Cabernet franc–also produce this rich fruity white to get the festivities started. Pear, red apple and a refreshing citrus lift make the wine ideal for any appetizers you might dish up. But don’t be surprised if guests keep sipping this through the meal. It’s really fantastic and only 186 cases were produced.

Gary Farrell Chardonnay

Pick by: Jonathan Cristaldi, WSET-Certified, instructor & editor-in-chief, Napa Valley Wine Academy
Wine: Gary Farrell 2013 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma
Grapes: 100% Chardonnay
SRP: $35
Site: garyfarrellwinery.com

Since early 2012, Theresa Heredia has been in charge of winemaking for Gary Farrell Winery in the Russian River Valley. She’s been recognized as a rising star in Sonoma County and is considered a specialist in cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, having been the winemaker for Freestone on the Sonoma Coast before joining Gary Farrell. She also worked in Burgundy at Domaine de Montille and trained with Craig Williams at Joseph Phelps after starting her winemaking career at Saintsbury. This Chardonnay is one of those utterly divine, sip-your-way-through-an-entire-bottle and have another kind of chard. Toasty, leesy, warm brioche and mineral driven, the wine offers a melodious package of lemon and lemon curd notes under supple weight, but bolstered by great acidity.

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