When selecting wines for your Thanksgiving table (whether you’re buying or bringing), you generally want those are on the lighter side of the spectrum; wines that naturally have higher acidity, brighter flavors, and low tannins will pair easily with the cacophony of meats and vegetables and gravies that end up all on one plate. Uncles, dads, and cougars might clamor for Malbec or buttery Chardonnay but those are heavy, rich, and will ultimately obscure the flavors that you or your host worked so hard to create.
Luckily, LA has access to the cool-climate wines of Santa Barbara County that, across the board, would pair great with turkey and stuffing. So while you may not be 100% sure where your non-heritage Butterball hails from, you can at least be confident that your wines are local and, if you go with any of the bottles below, they’ll pair great with the feast you’ve spent the last year looking forward to. Or dreading, in which case, good news! Wine!
2013 Flying Goat Goat Bubbles Brut Cuvee ($42 online)
Instead of greeting your family members with a passive aggressive smile, hand them a glass of sparkling wine to get things started right. Norm Yost was one of the first to start making bubbles in Santa Barbara 15 years ago but this is his first blended wine. He combines Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to make a sparkler that’s loaded with notes of fresh white peaches and strawberries, a creamy mouthfeel, and a clean finish. It will go great with that ambitious cheese plate you’ve put together.
Alma Rosa Pinot Gris La Encantada Vineyard ($28 online)
If you asked me before I tasted this wine what I thought of Pinot Gris (alias: Pinot Grigio), I’d tell you that they’re usually too unremarkable for my taste. This one, from Santa Barbara legend Richard Sanford’s Alma Rosa label, is a game-changer. Brightly aromatic with notes of baked pears, a creamy lemon custard-y finish and soft acidity, this is exactly the kind of white wine that will please everyone at your table and go with nearly everything. Garlicky mashed potatoes would be a stellar pairing.
Tatomer “Meeresboden” Santa Barbara County Gruner Veltliner ($26.99 at K&L)
Graham Tatomer is one of a proud few Santa Barbara winemakers committed to working with Austrian varieties and thank goodness! Gruner is always a thanksgiving favorite for its bracing acidity and notes of baked apples and holiday spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. This is a great wine to have at your Thanksgiving table for the main event or to sip with a slice of pumpkin pie later.
Liquid Farm White Hill Chardonnay ($37.99 at Wine House)
If your mom is anything like mine, it’s Chardonnay or bust, baby. Liquid Farm is making great single-vineyard Chardonnays from sites across Santa Barbara County. This is their entry-level Chardonnay and it’s crisp and bright with enough oak to have a buttery mouthfeel. Notes of dried sage and salinity round things out to make it a perfect turkey wine.
Amplify 2014 Carignane ($22.99 at Domaine LA)
Admittedly, I’m obsessed with this wine. But so is everyone I’ve ever introduced it to. Amplify is the small production label from husband-and-wife team Cameron and Marlen Porter and their Viognier is equally delicious. The wine is light, juicy, and bursting with bright cherry and cranberry notes. It’s kind of like a grownup version of Kool-aid that would be a dazzling pairing for your cranberry sauce or, really, anything at all.
Clendenen Family Vineyards 2013 “The Pip” Pinot Noir ($19.99 at Lincoln Fine Wines)
Jim Clendenen is the star winemaker behind Au Bon Climat, but I’m partial to the bottlings under his secondary Clendenen Family Vineyards label. This is a great every-day and easy-drinking Pinot Noir that shows the kind of rich fruit you’d expect from a Santa Barbara Pinot at a pretty good value. Notes of red fruits like dried cherries and blackberries combine with a silky mouth feel that’s balanced by good acidity. Drink with brussel sprouts and bacon to bring out the smoky earthy elements in the wine.
2013 A Tribute To Grace Grenache ($44.99 at Domaine LA)
As the name might imply, Angela Osborne’s Grenache is graceful, lithe, and amazingly balanced. Osborne has a passion for Grenache that you can taste. Equal parts spice and fruit, this Grenache has a nice depth of flavor but is still bright and leaps around your palate. Pair with cornbread stuffing.