There may never be a time when we have looked forward to Thanksgiving as much as this year. Perhaps it's because of the spate of natural disasters – fires, floods, and hurricanes – or the mass shootings in Nevada and Texas that send us searching for an oasis where we can be surrounded only by family and friends. This is the holiday to turn off the television and, instead, turn to each other for support and love.
The holiday was actually created in 1623 to celebrate the end of a drought that for years had damaged the crops. Although George Washington signed a proclamation declaring Thanksgiving as a time to celebrate the end of the war of independence, it was President Franklin Roosevelt who, in 1941, declared it would happen on the fourth Thursday of every November.
Because it is such an American holiday to celebrate all that is good, we like to mark it with a traditional feast of turkey and all the trimmings. It is also an occasion to mark the holiday with a nice bottle of all-American wine.
If you want to be patriotic, zinfandel is as all-American as Thanksgiving. It is a grape brought to us by Italian immigrants and today zinfandel is grown exclusively in the United States. Zinfandel has a fruity berry character that marries well with turkey and the classic side dishes.
But it's not the only red grape to consider. A fruity syrah or grenache is a good match and pinot noirs are light enough to complement the simple flavors of turkey. If lamb or beef are your choices, you can consider Bordeaux or cabernet sauvignon.
For whites, we like textured chardonnays that aren't over-oaked. Turkey is a fairly neutral meat, so you don't want to overwhelm it with a strongly flavored wine.
We like to offer both red and white choices to our dinner guests and add a champagne when they arrive. Here are some all-American wines to consider for your holiday dinner:
J Vineyards Brut Rosé ($45). If you really want to get your celebration off on the right foot, the J rosé is our recommendation. We thoroughly enjoyed this sparkling wine from the Russian River Valley. Rich and lively, it has raspberry, strawberry, and citrus notes. It is a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier.
Gloria Ferrer Anniversary Cuvee 2010 ($40). The original Sonoma County sparkling wine house has a winner on its hands with this special bottling from 14 separately fermented lots of chardonnay and pinot noir. The wine fermented in the bottle for five and a half years before disgorgement. Ripe pear aromas and peach and black cherry flavors with a dash of ginger.
Mumm Napa Brut Rosé ($24). Made mostly from pinot noir grapes, this coral-colored sparkling wine will excite the palate. It has cherry and strawberry flavors and will match turkey and salmon nicely.
Dry Creek Vineyard Mendocino County Old Vine Zinfandel 2014 ($32). Blended with a good dose of petite sirah and a little carignan, this zinfandel has depth and rich plum and blackberry aromas, cherry and raspberry flavors with a dose of spice and cocoa.
Oak Farm Lodi Zinfandel 2015 ($24). A solid performance from the hot Lodi region, this full-body wine surpasses its price in quality. Long finish, jammy red berry fruit flavors and soft tannins.
Peachy Canyon Westside Paso Robles 2015 ($22). Tight nose, concentrated raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors with a dash of allspice and clove.
Talbott Vineyards Kali Hart Pinot Noir 2015 ($26). Reasonably priced, this elegant pinot noir can be served to a crowd. Its cherry and cranberry flavors, softness and medium body won't overwhelm the turkey.
Qupé Central Coast Syrah 2013 ($20). Very spicy with fresh acidity and sweet strawberry flavors. Some grenache, mourvedre and tempranillo is added to give the wine a broader palate.
Scott Family Estate Chardonnay 2016 ($25). From the Arroyo Seco AVA of the Central Coast, this mellow chardonnay showcases the Dijon clones that provide a lush, oaky chardonnay with pear and citrus notes to marry beautifully with turkey.
Amici Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($25). Whether it be an aperitif before dinner or a wine at dinner, this versatile sauvignon blanc from Napa Valley has it all. There is enough complexity and richness to pair it with turkey, gravy and all the fixings. Vibrant acidity is also a nice foil to vegetables and cranberries. Tropical fruit flavors and a good dose of spice and mineral.
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($18). Very fresh and vibrant, this racy New Zealand sauvignon blanc delivers. Good acidity cuts through heavily seasoned foods and refreshes the palate.
Concannon Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 ($20). We liked the creamy texture in this balanced chardonnay from Monterey County. Lemon/lime aromas give way to peach and tropical fruit flavors. Excellent value.
Dierberg Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay 2014 ($32). A very distinctive chardonnay with fennel, lime and lychee notes on top of a lush tropical fruit palate. Crisp acidity makes it a good food wine too.
FEL Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Chardonnay 2015 ($48). We tasted this wine alongside an oaked-up chardonnay from the same region and was stunned to witness how much better it did with food. This single-vineyard treat is well balanced yet still rich, aromatic, and layered with pear and quince notes. Good acidity.
Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay 2015 ($35). The cooling fog from San Pablo Bay has a big influence on this delicious, well-balanced chardonnay from Carneros. Good depth with apple and citrus notes and a hint of butterscotch and almond.