With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it’s not too early to think about what wines you might serve with this fall’s feast.
Thanksgiving can seem like a daunting meal with which to pair wines, and that’s a valid concern for many reasons: There are many contradictory flavors on the table, and the focus does not tend to be wine but rather on the food and the company.
The problem is easily solved by opening a handful of wines (depending on the number of guests) that are balanced and food-friendly. For example, if you have 10 people coming to dinner, open at least five or six bottles — chances are, everyone at the table will find something they like.
Here are nine wines from around the Pacific Northwest that will work beautifully with your Thanksgiving dinner. All won gold medals at last month’s Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition. Ask for them at your favorite wine shop or contact the wineries directly.
Westport Winery NV Rapture of the Deep, Washington, $28: Using cranberries from the Washington coast, the Roberts family once again has crafted a delicious bubbly that is perfect for the Thanksgiving table. Aromas and flavors of — what else — cranberries are bright and approachable. Available only at the winery.
Airfield Estates Winery 2014 Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, $15: Tropical aromas of pineapple, citrus and green apple lead to flavors of lemon-lime, tart Golden Delicious apples and a touch of guava.
Maryhill Winery 2014 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $16: Many of Washington’s best rosés are made from Sangiovese, and this is no exception. Aromas of strawberry and kiwi give way to flavors of pie cherry and ripe red berry, all backed with luscious acidity.
Palencia Winery 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $18: Walla Walla winemaker Victor Palencia has a magic touch with Sauv Blanc, and this wine’s combination of complex flavors and crisp acidity make this a perfect Thanksgiving wine. Notes of lime, tropical fruit and minerality lead to a satisfying finish.
Watermill Winery 2012 Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, $24: Using estate grapes from the southern Walla Walla Valley, the Brown family is producing some of the top wines in the region. This Merlot shows off aromas and flavors of blackberry, blueberry and an earthy backbone.
Ancestry Cellars 2013 Reminiscence Riesling, Columbia Gorge, $18: This Woodinville, Wash., winery uses Columbia Gorge grapes for this gorgeous Riesling. Aromas and flavors of Mandarin orange and sweet lime are backed by notes of minerality and abundant acidity. This is a delicious sipper by itself or will pair with a wide variety of dishes.
Helix by Reininger 2011 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $28: The Helix label provides an avenue for winemaker Chuck Reininger to use grapes from the broad Columbia Valley (leaving Walla Walla Valley grapes for his Reininger label). This beautiful Syrah leads off with lush blackberry fruit, followed by a parade of plum and blueberry flavors that lead to a satisfying finish.
St. Innocent Winery 2013 Zenith Vineyard Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, $42: Longtime Oregon winemaker Mark Vlossak established St. Innocent in the 1980s and continues to make some of the most elegant and graceful Pinot Noirs in the Northwest. This example reveals aromas and flavors of red cherry, spice and lavender notes, all backed with zesty acidity and restrained tannins.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Ethos Late Harvest Riesling, Columbia Valley, $40: Every great meal deserves a dessert wine, and this effort from Washington’s oldest and largest winery is superb and will pair beautifully with pumpkin pie or cheesecake. Aromas of citrus, white peach and apricot lead to flavors of orange, ripe peach and spiced honey. Behind all the sugar is ample acidity to keep everything in check.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.