Thanksgiving Wines Top 10 Best Bottles

Here are my top 10 gobbling-good wines that I recommended on CBC radio this week. (You can listen to the radio interview below.) Got a favourite? I love matching wine with side dishes … pinot noir and cranberry sauce or riesling with green beans. The bonus is that they both work well with the big bird.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Mission Hill Family Estate Five Vineyards Pinot Blanc, Okanagan Valley, BC

Terrifically fresh and vibrant! Like a basket of white melons on a summer afternoon. Lovely as an aperitif or companion to many dishes. Pair with: roast turkey, grilled fish, fresh oysters, salads or creamy pasta dishes.

Drink: 2012-2014
Product: 300301
Price: $14.99
Score: 88/100

Mike Weir Sauvignon Blanc, Niagara, Ontario

Lovely refreshment with notes of white melon and lime. Lively, clean finish that makes for a great aperitif, especially as you are approaching the nineteenth tee. Pair with: Thanksgiving side dishes such as green beans, field greens salad, grilled freshwater fish and a hole in one.

Drink: 2012-2014
SKU: 737127
Price: $14.95
Score: 87/100

Sterling Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California

Love it! Gorgeous layers of green apple and peach wrapped in just the right amount of toasty oak. The winery ferments and ages this chardonnay in barrels. The result is classic Californian chardonnay that bottles west coast sunshine. It’s a staggeringly great wine for feed of fresh sweet corn on the cob and boiled lobster dipped in butter or mashed potatoes. You light the fire and I’ll pour the wine.

Price: $21.95

Score: 91/100

Drink: 2012-2016

SKU: 330233

Burgáns Martín Códax Albariño
Rias Baixas, Spain

Clean, crisp and refreshing with bright lime-lemon aromas and flavours. Great aperitif or food companion. Pair with fresh seafood, fall vegetables and long walks in crisp October evenings.

Drink: 2012-2014
Product No: 745825
Price: $17.95
Score: 88/100

Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Shiraz

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Spectacular! One of Canada’s benchmark wines. A deep core of hedonistic pleasure from the concentrated black plums and blackberries. It’s wrapped in smoke, meaty notes, dark spices and intrigue. The finish says: more please … now! Drink it on your first date, your 50th anniversary and other nights in between.

Drink: 2011-2017

SKU: 33241

Price: $24.95

Score: 93/100

Beringer Zinfandel Founders’ Estate, California

Some kind of wonderful! Purple plums and juicy blueberries tumble across your senses. Full-bodied, smooth and delicious. Perfect for BBQ. Pair with: roast turkey, grilled gourmet sausages, spareribs and chicken with a tangy tomato sauce.

Drink: 2012-2015
SKU: #567453
Price: $11.99
Score: 91/100

Wolf Blass Merlot Yellow Label, Barossa Valley, Australia
A smooth and full-bodied red with wonderfully fleshy, savoury dark fruit flavours. Pulls you right into the glass. Great for casual gatherings and dinner parties: a true bridging wine socially. Pair with grilled pork chops and meat lovers’ pizza.

Drink: 2012-2015
SKU: 598102
Price: $16.55
Score: 88/100

Rosemount Estate Shiraz, Australia

Dark, smoky and delicious! Layers and layers of ripe fleshy dark plums wrapped in just enough toasty oak. Superb taste and quality for this price. Pair with: grilled pepper steaks, hamburgers with all the fixins and any movie with Hugh Jackman in it.

Drink: 2012-2015

SKU: 302349

Price: $15.95

Score: 89/100

Menage a Trois Red, California

Don’t buy it for the naughty name: buy it because it’s good! Loaded with black fruit and dark chocolate aromas. Smooth and full-bodied with a lovely juiciness for many dishes. A blend of zinfandel, merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes. Pair with: saucy pulled-pork sandwiches, braised short ribs and hamburgers with all the fixins.

Price: $16.99
Drink: 2012-2015
SKU: #719908
Score: 90/100

Persuasion Dragon Blend, California

Arlene Dickinson, the marketing maven on the television show Dragon’s Den, used her business savvy to launch a Sonoma blend of cabernet and merlot called Persuasion last year. She says that some vintages are aggressive and come on strong (presumably like her co-host Kevin O’Leary), while others are smoother, more balanced, more confident of their worth. I wasn’t convinced that Persuasion was anything more than a cash cow extension of Dickinson’s other products such as coffee, chocolate and skin care. Then I tried it. The business case is in the bottle. This robust red is balanced, complex and rich—like Arlene herself. Pair with: prime rib, filet mignon, grilled pork chops, lamb with rosemary.

Drink: 2012-2017

SKU: 736211413314

Price: $40

Score: 93/100


Thanksgiving Wines Top 10 Best Bottles

Natalie: Hi Donna!

Donna: The bounty is soon upon us, so what should we be keeping in mind when we’re choosing a wine for Thanksgiving?

Natalie: Well I think there’s so many flavours on the table that you can’t go wrong. It’s not something to stress about. You can match with the turkey, if you like, that’s the main event but there are so many other side dishes that I think there is room for just about any type of wine that you like.

Donna: You use to adhere to the rule that you pair fowl with white wine. Is that still the case?

Natalie: No, it doesn’t have to be at all. These days we’re cooking all kinds of dishes, including very traditional Thanksgiving dinner, in different ways. Some people have a citrus stuffing which is going to be a much juicier kind of bird with citrus highlights. In that case, I probably would go with the bright Riesling from the Okanagan Valley or a Sauvignon Blanc. If you want more of a Mediterranean-style or dark herbs with your turkey or goose, I’d go for a juicy red wine like a Pinot Noir, again from the Okanagan.

Donna: And you have your top 10 list for Thanksgiving. Where should we begin Natalie?

Natalie: You can look around the world. I have mentioned a couple of wines from B.C. If you want to go with white then you can look for a very juicy mouth-watering white Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc or a California Chardonnay.  These will do well with the voluptuous dishes like the mashed potatoes, the sweet potatoes and the creamed corn. There are lots of red wine lovers and so you won’t be forgotten at the table, a Zinfandel from California will work with its low tannin, that mouthfeel that you can get from Cabernet Sauvignon. It will go well with the turkey as well. Zinfandel tends to be very juicy, purple plum berries. It’s a dry wine but it has the perception of fleshy fruit flavours which is exactly what you want, if your turkey is on the dry side and it is in our house where we cook it. We always fix our mistake with wine.

Donna: It certainly is at mine.

Natalie: Exactly, it’s just naturally a dry bird. There’s lots of things you can do to juice it up but I find wine as one of the easiest ways to fix that.

Donna: Your rule of thumb is if the meat is somewhat dry, then you go with the juicer wine and vice versa, right?

Natalie: Exactly, and that’s why Cabernet Sauvignon which is a very dry wine tends to go with a juicy red rare steak so you know the reverse is true as well.

Donna: Why don’t we just name some names, wines that people couldn’t go wrong with if they wanted to serve them at the Thanksgiving table?

Natalie: I started in the Okanagan Valley with Mission Hill which makes a range of wines from very modestly priced up to their top of the line, which is about $70. Riesling is on my top 10 list for top B.C wines. One I’ve recommended is their Pinot Blanc which is only $15 in Alberta and widely available. It’s fresh, it’s vibrant, it’s going to go with that Turkey and the side dishes in a lovely way. Then I jumped over to Ontario to Mike Weir Sauvignon Blanc. That is the Mike Weir of golfing fame.

Donna: Wow!

Natalie: Yes.

Donna: What he does in his off season?

Natalie: Exactly, so this wine will not only pair with turkey but it will be there with the side dishes. It’s a great wine and all the profits from his wine goes to his children’s charity, which is a lovely gesture at Thanksgiving, I think.

Donna: Always a good reason to open another bottle I say.

Natalie: Exactly, you have to do good to do well. Sterling Chardonnay from California with its layers of buttery, richness and it’s a smoky toasty oaky chardonnay is perfect for mashed potatoes and the sweet corn. You can go over to Spain and get a very crisp, vibrant Albariño. It is a lesser-known grape and you’re not going to pay a lot for that one, just $17. I should mention that most of these wines that I’m listing here are under $20, they’re all available in Alberta and I think you’re going to post them on your website so people can find them afterwards.

Donna: We most certainly are.

Natalie: Okay, so moving right along then, we’re back to the Okanagan Valley with Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Grand Reserve Shiraz.  It is a spectacular wine.  It’s, I think, one of Canada’s best and it’s in my top 10 list.

Donna: And you would serve that with your Turkey?

Natalie: I would.  Shiraz is like Zinfandel in that it’s not really tannic so it is bursting with big black juicy plum, lots of flavour and it’s still mouth-watering. It’s not going to dry out your mouth or the turkey so it’s great.

Donna: Great and you have another Zinfandel to follow the Shiraz, Natalie.

Natalie: I do.  It is a Beringer from California and this is an amazing value at just $12. It has lots of purple plums and blackberries rolling across your palate. It goes well with turkey and some the major side dishes. We have a Wolf Blass Merlot from Australia for just $16. Merlot is a very smooth, almost a soft wine. That’s the one they didn’t like in that movie Sideways but it’s a beautiful red wine, underrated now that Pinot has taken over. We have another Shiraz from Rosemount in Australia, again very similar in flavour but another choice … its $15. Then we have Ménage a Trois red wine from California. Ménage a Trois is a very naughty French name, it’s all about things done in threes.  So this would be a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet. Because the Zinfandel and Merlot are in there, they are softening the Cabernet. I’ve also included Persuasion Dragon Blend by one of your hometown girls, Arlene Dickinson on the show Dragon’s Den. She has her own wine and it’s widely available in Alberta. In fact, that’s where it’s most available. It’s fantastic, it’s pricey … its $40 but I rated it 93 points out of a hundred. It’s from California and it’s a very smooth red because it has some other grapes in the blend. It’s a great way to toast locally to local talent at the Thanksgiving table.

Donna: And you would probably pair that Persuasion with something other than turkey for Thanksgiving dinner Natalie?

Natalie: Yes, well you could if you’re going to have goose or even if you’re going to go non-traditional. Some people are just not into the fowl for Thanksgiving. Prime rib, roast pork, grilled pork chops would be wonderful. Lamb with rosemary would be a perfect pairing. We don’t have to stick to tradition, we just have to stick to what pleases us.

Donna: Would you serve different wines at different stages in the meal? Would you serve something lighter at the beginning or darker, what would you suggest?

Natalie: I would. Given the opportunity, I’ll service as much wine as I can in moderation. It’s always nice to start off with a Sparkling wine such as Sumac Ridge from the Okanagan or Henry of Pelham which is also available in Alberta.

Donna: Is that like a Canadian version of Champagne?

Natalie: Exactly, so it has the same grapes and the same methods as Champagne but it’s about a third of the price. So these are about $25 which is a bargain for bubbly, for Sparkling wine. It whets your appetite and it gets the juices running before the meal while that turkey is finishing cooking. You can start off the meal with a toast to friends and family around the table. It’s really a nice touch for Thanksgiving dinner. Then I would move into the dryer table wines, still dry table wines like Pinot Noir, Riesling or whatever you’re going to pair. We have lots of side dishes on the table and we tend to help ourselves. Why not do that with the wines? Have a few bottles on the go. Let people help themselves and make some matches … it could be fun.

Donna: Natalie, thank you so much.

Natalie: Alright.



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