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Old World Wines for a New World Tradition: Thanksgiving

Hey guys! 

For my third set of Thanksgiving wine picks, I'm going to show you some fantastic Old World wines. 

I like to push people out of their comfort zone and get them to try wines they may have never heard of—or that they may have heard of, but never tried. That said, this week's picks will enhance your meal experience and give you and your guests a fun feast for your palates.

While turkey is the main player of the Thanksgiving feast, it's not necessarily the most flavorful part. Even when prepared different ways, turkey still has your basic poultry flavors. Just about any light- to full-bodied white and any light- to medium-bodied red will pair nicely with turkey. It is the trimmings that determine which type of wine will suit your meal the best. 

Whether your family enjoys the traditional roasted turkey with mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, cranberry sauce, stuffing and candied yams, or if they like to mix things up a bit, you can pair any of the following wines with your meal. Some of these wines will complement the trimmings you set out, while others will contrast them. However, all of them will pair nicely with your turkey, so mix things up a bit, try something different this year, and most of all, enjoy!


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Let's start with Italy. I LOVE Italian wines because they are made to go with food. One of my favorite white wines from Italy is Trebbiano d'Abruzzo. Try one from Fantini. It's a pale golden color, and has a floral bouquet of white flowers, kiwi, and citrus with light notes of vanilla. The palate is smooth and full of citrus notes, lemon curd and vanilla.

Price range: $9-$14

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For a red, I'd go with a Barbera d'Asti from Damilano. I know, you probably thought I'd pick a Chianti. True, you can enjoy a your meal with a nice Chianti, but, I'm encouraging you to try something new. This Barbera d'Asti has a nice nose, yielding dried cherry fruit and some rustic earthy notes. The palate is pleasing, not too acidic, fruit notes of cherry and blackberry with a hint of spice.

Price range: $12-$17


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Next up, Spain. I love Spanish wines, too. One of my favorites is the Condes De Albarei Albariño, an aromatic and pleasing white. This Albariño has hints of melon, white flowers and lime zest on the nose. The light acidity wakes up your palate and makes your mouth water with flavors of honeydew melon, lemon and lime and other tropical fruits. I enjoyed this two years ago with my turkey dinner and it was delicious!

Price range: $10-$12

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For a Spanish red, I would definitely go with Borsao's 'Tres Picos' Garnacha. This wine is 100% Garnacha and aged on French oak. On the nose you get rich red fruit notes, intense cherry and boysenberry with some spice. On the palate, the wine is smooth and mouth filling with flavors of black cherry, blackberry, some boysenberry and a hint of peppery spiciness—but not black pepper, more like a white pepper. It really is a delicious wine to pair with a traditional turkey dinner.

Price range: $12-$17


Finally, we come to France. France has many wines to offer for turkey dinner, depending on the style and fixings. Since most folks choose the traditional oven roasted style, I would suggest a Burgundian Grand Crû or Premier Crû Chablis. Typically, Chablis is 100% (un)oaked Chardonnay, however, most Grand Crû and Premier Crû Chablis are settled in oak barrels, which gives them a softer, creamier finish. These Chablis can be pricey, so I picked one that is modestly priced, but still a beautiful example of this style of wine: the 1er Premier Crû Chablis from Dampt Freres, Fourchaume.

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It has pleasing aromas of citrus, Apple, cut grass and wet stone. On the palate it is soft and slightly creamy with flavors of green apple, citrus and a bit of lemon grass.

Price range: $30-$40

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If you're looking for a good French red to pair with your Thanksgiving feast, look no further than the Cotes du Rhône. Rhone blends of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre pair perfectly with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. You can go crazy and spend a lot or keep it simple and spend very little. I chose a moderately priced wine from Chateau de Beaucastel: their Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone. On the nose the CDR has rich notes of plum, dark cherry and some baking spices. On the palate, rich fruit flavors of black cherry, plum, blackberry preserves, cinnamon, and a hint of sweet oak on the finish will pair perfectly with the traditional trimmings of a Thanksgiving dinner.

Price range: $30-$38