The traditional Thanksgiving meal isn't normally on the menu year-round at most homes, and picking wine to match a turkey dinner and all the trimmings can be a challenge. We spoke to employees at three local wine shops to get their opinions on wines that would pair beautifully with the holiday spread. Their picks span the globe, but all three agree: avoid wines that are heavy, rich, or tannic, and look for clean flavors and acidity to cut the heaviness of the meal.
Michael Barber, Domestic Wine Specialist, K&L Wines:
The go-to varieties for me are probably a pinot noir and a sauvignon blanc. One of my favorite small producers out of Russian River is the Paul Mathew 2007 Russian River Pinot Noir ($32). It matches well with turkey and lighter flavors at the table, like cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Even though no one wants to cook a dry turkey, it's a naturally drier bird, so you want a lighter wine to pair. Sauvignon Blanc has a great, dry crispness. I like the Barber Cellars Dry Creek 2008 Sauvignon Blanc ($15), which is refined and minerally, with floral notes.
K&L Wines is located at 638 4th St. in SOMA. They also have a second location in Redwood City. Call (415) 896-1734 or visit their website.
Floribeph Kennedy, European Buyer, The Jug Shop:
For whites, I like the 2008 Sant'Elena Traminer Aromatico ($20). It's an Italian wine that's very aromatic and will go very well with soup, squash, or sweet potatoes. It also goes nicely with the greens and turkey. For my red, I'm going to stay with Piemonte [the Italian wine-growing region]. The 2007 Ca'viola Dolcetto d'Alva Vilot 2007 ($22) is light-bodied and fresh with a lot of cherry and blackberry flavors and aromas. On the palate, it has a nice little bit of acidity.
The Jug Shop is located at 1590 Pacific Ave. in Russian Hill. Call (415) 885-2922 or visit their website.
Anya Balistreri, Wine Buyer, Wine House:
2006 Chardonnay, Orsi Vineyard, C. Donatiello ($36): If you just have to have chardonnay, this Russian River Valley beauty has enough oomph and richness to match with the turkey. It would be sublime with a traditional oyster dressing.
2006 Monthelie, Xavier Monnot (on sale for $26, regularly $42): An elegant French Burgundy with concentrated berry aromas, mingled with red earth and gravel. The aromatics are explosive, with raspberry, incense and beeswax. This Pinot Noir would nicely pick up the baking spices often used in sweet potato/yam preparations. Also, the softer tannins and balanced oak treatment will not overwhelm the delicate flavors of turkey.
2008 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Balletto Vineyards ($19): This is classic Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. It has all those telltale red cherry and cola flavors, and the finish is lively and bright. It's a challenge to find Pinot Noir for under $20 that is this good.
The Wine House is located at 129 Carolina St. in Potrero Hill. Call (415) 355-9463 or visit their website.