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Wine Reviews: Wines for Thanksgiving
Give Thanks for these selections
by: Vino Joe (e-mail

Wine Reviews Home / Vices Channel / Wine Web Guide

So it’s about that time again, for football, cranberry sauce and a dried-out, over-stuffed bird. (Oh, sorry, does your Thanksgiving chef not overcook the turkey? Lucky you.)

While the rest of the family upgrades their beverage purchase from insipid swill to “good beer,” like those overhyped, overmalted, dark-colored beers that come complete with autumnal-looking labels and small-batch-sounding names, you can bring everyone up another rung on the social class totem pole and bring a few bottles of fine wine. 

Whatsamatter, afraid someone will call you a skirt for showing up with a bottle of wine instead of Pete’s Slicked Brown Derby Malt Toasted Farmstead Novemberfest Ale? So then you carry the pumpkin pie and let your girlfriend or your sister walk in with the vino. If you insist on sitting around pretending to enjoy bitter beer that looks and tastes like dirt and seltzer, that’s your prerogative. The rest of us will “wimp out” and enjoy sipping glasses of wine that taste GOOD (extended pinkies optional), and will match well with the cornucopia of food on the table.

Start the day off with a bang by popping a cork of Champagne -- REAL Champagne, not the fizzy stuff with the impossible-to-remove plastic “cork.” Real Champagne comes from France, and since it’s a holiday, spend a few extra bucks and get a nice bottle, such as Pommery Brut Royal, which has a clean citrusy aroma, lively and fresh flavor, and finishes completely dry. If you really have a problem with purchasing something French (get over it already, the winemakers don’t run the government!), or you simply want to astound everyone, show up with a bottle of Rumball Sparkling Shiraz. Yes, it’s red, and it’s the same Shiraz from Australia, only with bubbles. And it’s a great match for cured meat appetizers (salami, pepperoni, etc.) and turkey. Be sure to chill it.

After teasing your palate with bubbles, move on to a clean white wine with an exotic fruit quality that tastes almost sweet: Trimbach Pinot Gris. It’s tasty enough to enjoy while watching the first half of the football game, and has a delicious array of flavors that will match well with almost everything on the dinner table. Some of the fruits you might taste include ripe pear, white candied peaches and banana, a combination which matches nicely with turkey, most stuffings, creamed onions, sweet potato and just about anything else you can reach on the table. Hard to believe this is the same grape as Pinot Grigio -- but grown in France instead of Italy.

Ready for a red? It has to be Beaujolais Nouveau, for the following reasons: 1. you can afford it; 2. it’s a tradition (it’s the first wine released from the vintage, beginning November 20th); 3. everybody likes it; and 4. it is simple enough to match with everything. Step it up a notch and pick up a Beaujolais “cru,” which will cost a few dollars more and deliver a drier flavor and more complexity. I recommend a “Brouilly,” such as the one from Chateau de La Chaize. It’s a pleasant, mild wine with soft tannins, good acidity and a black cherry/cranberry flavor, matching well with the bird, stuffing and, yes, the cranberry sauce. Give it a slight chill for best results.

Why no “real guy” wine, like a big blockbuster California Cab or super-tannic Super Tuscan? Mostly because the high tannins in those wines aren’t always a great match for the lean turkey; tannins are better suited to fatty meats such as steak. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a big red with an after-dinner cheese course. Personally, I’d do the patriotic thing and finish off the meal with a bottle of Zinfandel -- a fantastic grape that is native to the United States. If you’re not sure which one to pick up, a good rule of thumb is to get one from a winery that starts with an “R” (Ravenswood, Ridge, Rosenblum and Rombauer are all excellent choices).

Oh, one last thing: By drinking wine during Thanksgiving, you’re avoiding carbonation, which tends to fill you up -- so while your brothers are belching and bloated from beer, you can fill up on the bird. Happy Thanksgiving!

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