What To Drink With Thanksgiving Dinner: 50 Festive Choices Slideshow

What to Drink With Thanksgiving Dinner: 50 Festive Choices

What did the Pilgrims and their Native American hosts drink at the very first Thanksgiving dinner back in 1620? If it was anything other than water, it would probably have been the dregs of some beer they'd brought over in barrels from England; they wouldn't have had time to plant apples for cider, another favored tipple of the time, and though the Mayflower had been used in a previous life to transport wine from Bordeaux back to England, it's unlikely that there were any casks of claret or butts of malmsey on board.

Today in America we have access to a whole world of good things to drink — wine, beer, cider, endless spirits, limitless cocktails, and even soft drinks of many kinds, from everyday to artisanal. Let's not get into the soft stuff, though. It's Thanksgiving, and time to celebrate — and quite possibly to insulate ourselves from the prying siblings or sententious uncles at the table with the help of a jolt or two of good old ethyl alcohol in some delicious form or other.

Over the past several weeks we've tasted through scores of wines and beers and at least a dozen ciders to come up with some very tasty Thanksgiving choices, at a wide range of prices — 35 wines, 10 beers, five ciders. Note that beer and cider prices are given for standard four- or six-packs of 12-ounce bottles or cans unless otherwise noted, and that the prices of beer, cider, and wine may vary from state to state and even store to store.

Here, then, are 50 festive things to drink at Thanksgiving dinner.

Lancers Rosé NV ($9)

This modest Portuguese classic will draw sneers from any wine snobs at your table, but the fact is that this very pleasant tipple — made from a mix of indigenous Portuguese grape varieties and fermented to an effervescence that's just this side of sparkling — has plenty of fruit and an unexpectedly dry finish, and would be fun to drink all Thanksgiving day long.

Albet i Noya Nosodos Brut 2013 ($18.99)

Welcome your dinner guests with a glass of this clean, fragrant, white-peachy, fresh-tasting cava, a sparkler from Catalonia — but maybe don't mention its place of origin if you've got a dinner guest who has strong feelings about international politics.

Gloria Ferrer Carneros Brut Rosé NV ($21)

An attractively festive Californian (with a Catalan heritage, but, again, let's not get into that) — fairly full-bodied and plenty fruity, but with a nice mineral edge.

Krug Grande Cuvée NV($170)

Bring this to the Turkey Day table and you'll be a wine hero, though admittedly a slightly impoverished one. This bold, rich, classic Champagne offers a nose of yeast and smoke, with apples, golden toast, and mineral definition on the palate — a feast in itself.

Bonterra Organic Vineyards Viognier 2016 ($16)

Lushly aromatic but without that cloying perfume some viognier exudes, and full of summer fruit flavors, with a creamy texture. For those who want something rich and soft but not sweet, this would be perfect.

J Pinot Gris 2016 ($16.49)

Just a luscious wine, round and full, with a luminous yellow color, a generous bouquet, and a whole bowlful of tropical fruit on the palate. Good food wine, but also a pleasure to sip by itself as an apéritif.

Viña Godeval 2016 ($17)

If there are oysters involved in your Thanksgiving repast, whether on the half-shell or in the stuffing, this would be a good choice. A lean, flinty, nicely acidic Spanish white based on the underappreciated godello grape, with real complexity and a long, distinctive finish.

Luigi Ferrando ‘La Torrazza’ Erbaluce di Caluso 2015 ($20)

A very pretty wine, aromatic and nicely rounded, with a bright golden color, suggestions of persimmon and apple on the palate, and a nice mineral edge — just charming overall, and delicious with a mushroomy stuffing.

Gaia Estate ‘Thalassitis’ Assyrtiko 2015 ($24.99)

If you're looking for something crisp and bright to knife through all the rich food on the holiday table, consider this Greek beauty, with its lively current of acidity — a taster once described it as being "like lemon fireworks" — and an attractive mineral character balancing its subtle fruit.

Inama ‘Soave Classico’ Vigneti di Foscarino 2015 ($25)

A gorgeous wine, with a sunny yellow hue, a nose of honey and wildflowers, and a lush white-peach character on the palate.

Soliste ‘Lune et Soleil’ Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($26)

A tribute by chef-turned-winemaker Claude Koeberle to his late friend Didier Dagueneau, who made some of the best Sancerre ever, this intensely fruity delight balances a tropical opulence with a Chablis-like flinty flavor, hints of beeswax, and a tang of citrus.

Navarro Vineyards Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer 2015 ($26.99)

You either like gewürztraminer — with its spicy floral perfume and rich mouthfeel — or you don't, but if you do, this dry Alsatian-style Californian is one of the best. It will offset traditional Thanksgiving fare in a nice if rather showy manner, but is practically essential if you're incorporating such elements as soy sauce, ginger, or sesame oil into your holiday recipes.


Cave Caloz Fendant La Mourzière 2014 ($33)

Switzerland's best white wine grape is chasselas, and this is a first-rate example of what it can provide — well rounded in flavor, faintly spicy, and animated with a barely perceptible sparkle that makes it a lively guest at the holiday table.

Domaine Huet Le Mont Vouvray Sec 2015 ($38)

Domaine Huet is the most renowned producer in Vouvray, and this is one of the winery's showpieces, very rich, with hints of quince and caramel apple outlined by the slight sharpness of citrus and minerals.

Château Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2014 ($39)

This classic Châteauneuf white blend based on grenache blanc offers a suave blend of fruitiness and savoriness, with hints of smoke and flowers and enough acidity to make it a fine partner for white or dark meat, savory stuffing, and even a not-overly-sweet pumpkin pie.

Zind-Humbrecht Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain Riesling Grand Cru 2014 ($115)

An elegant, weighty wine, deep yellow in color with a smoky nose and a mineral-rich, spicy, almost meaty flavor. This is a wine that will stand up to all the usual side dishes quite nicely — the sweetness of the candied yams, the tartness of the cranberry sauce, and the pungency of the Brussels sprouts — while also drawing out the flavor of the turkey.

Señorío de Sarría Rosado 2016 ($13)

This sprightly garnacha-based rosé from Navarra is juicy and intense, with flavors of cherries and summer berries and a whiff of anise — carried by enough body to stand up to the dark meat.

Château d’Aquéria Tavel Rosé 2015 ($13.99)

Contributor John Tilson of The Underground Wineletter told us last year that this was one of his favorite Thanksgiving turkey wines, and we agree that it's a delight. Citing its "light red color with a faint golden hue," Tilson described its "lovely floral-tinged perfume with berry and cherry nuances" and called it "rounded, supple, and lush with loads of red fruit flavors."

Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé 2016 ($42)

One of the most expensive non-sparkling rosés in existence, this Provençal classic is a big, confident wine, mostly mourvèdre, with grenache, cinsault, and carignan added. Its medium-light color is deceptive: It has a forthright aroma of fruit and herbs, and then floods the mouth with complex flavors — a little earthy, a little smoky, and a lot delicious.

Réserve des Vignerons Saumur-Champigny 2016 ($12.99)

This juicy, slightly earthy cabernet franc from the Loire will stand up nicely to herb-laced stuffing and giblet gravy and chase that cranberry tartness right off your palate.

Tommasi Rafaèl Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2015 ($13.99)

A lot of Valpolicella these days is the kind called ripasso — a sort of little brother to amarone, in which the wine is macerated with the pomace from late-harvested grapes. The non-ripasso variety, like this one, is much fresher, with rounded fruit and a hint of leather — sort of a stylish alternative to pinot noir.

Ludovicus Tinto 2012 ($15)

From Terra Alta, next to Catalonia's esteemed Priorat region, this bargain-priced red offers a generous, spicy, floral aroma leading into a flavor of ripe red cherries and strawberries, finishing with a tinge of tartness.

Morgante Nero d'Avola 2014 ($15.99)

If you favor something ripe, smoky, peppery, and dense, this Sicilian red will fill the bill, complementing everything from the cheese straws on the sideboard all the way through to the that cloying pecan pie.

Vigneto Saetti Lambrusco Salamino di S. Croce 2016 ($20)

Nothing to do with "Riunite on ice." This is sophisticated wine, very dry and faintly peppery, with plenty of fizz and tart fruit accented with (appropriately to the season) cinnamon and cloves. This one will cut right through all that butter and gravy.

Warwick Estate Old Bush Vines Pinotage 2015 ($21.99)

South Africa's signature red-wine grape, pinotage is an unlikely but very likeable cross between pinot noir and cinsault, though generally tending towards the latter more in character. This sterling example is chocolatey and earthy with soft tannins and flavors of dried figs, cloves, and licorice.

Domaine Diochon Moulin-à-Vent, Vieilles Vignes 2015 ($23)

Forget overpriced, often cloying Beaujolais nouveau and reach instead for this Burgundian beauty, opulent and richly textured, with graceful tannins and a pronounced black-currant flavor.

Vietti Barbera d'Alba Tre Vigne 2015 ($24.50)

A good all-purpose red, likely to satisfy both the wine-knowledgeable and the gimme-some-more crowd with its soft, medium-rich, plummy fruit, accented by a touch of pepper and clove.

Viña Ardanza Rioja Reserva 2009 ($36.99)

A gem from La Rioja Alta, blending garnacha (grenache) and tempranillo into a textbook example of this great Spanish wine type, with its aroma of leather and tobacco and its toasty, fruity flavor cushioned by silky tannins. A slice of moist white meat and a sip of this would be a heavenly match.

Franz Haas Lagrein 2013 ($37)

A first-rate interpretation of this uncommon red variety from Italy's German-speaking Alto Adige region, minty and spicy, with ample fruit and a nice tang of acidity.

Ridge Vineyards Dry Creek Valley Lytton Springs Zinfandel 2015 ($39.99)

Since the early 1970s, this wine has defined zinfandel at its best. Elegant but forthright and assertive, it's wonderfully aromatic, very complex — the zinfandel is augmented with some petite sirah, carignan, and mourvèdre — and full of charm. Bring this to the table and score major points.

Robert Sinskey Vineyards Los Carneros Pinot Noir 2013 ($39.99)

Some wine lovers can't imagine the Thanksgiving table without a few bottles of pinot noir. If you're one of them, reach for this classy, earthy, medium-rich example, with enough cherry-like fruit — defined by just enough tannin — to liven up even a middling turkey.

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 ($42.99)

A delightful wine, dark in color, creamy, and bursting with flavor. Recommending an earlier vintage for Thanksgiving dinner last year, our wine writer Roger Morris called this wine "a seducer than will grow in complexity with age."

Palacios Remondo Propiedad 2012 ($49)

This 100 percent garnacha from Rioja is ripe and rich, with plenty of fruit and a seductive character of wild herbs and dusty earth — aristocratic and slightly racy at the same time.

Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas Rouge 2014 ($53)

Contributor Anne Montgomery named an earlier vintage of this wine as her Thanksgiving favorite last year. "The nose and palate are heady with dark red fruit, plum, and blackberry with just enough mineral and spice to add complexity and interest," she wrote, adding that "it would complement and enhance virtually all of our traditional Thanksgiving dishes."

Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir Cuvée Laurène 2012 ($56)

This high-class offering from a famous Burgundy producer and négociant is spicy and rich, with smooth tannins and plenty of juicy blackberry fruit.

Starr Hill Grateful Pale Ale ($8.49/6-pack)

Some holiday diners just want a beer that tastes like beer, not like pumpkin pie or chocolate, and this is a fine example — hoppy and malty, medium in heft, and just sharp enough on the finish to make it a good foil for heavy food.

New Belgium Pumpkick Ale ($8.79/6-pack)

This lighter-than-you'd-expect reddish-orange ale has the obligatory (this time of year) pumpkin-pie spices but is given a shot of tartness by a touch of cranberry juice and an even smaller touch of lemon.

Pilsner Urquell ($8.99/6-pack)

The pilsner by which all others must be judged — the first example of the style and still a standout, with its toasty, slightly grassy aroma and its buttery, hoppy flavor. This is a beer that goes surprisingly well with many kinds of food, including the usual Thanksgiving suspects.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale ($9.29/6-pack)

A widely available and popular seasonal release from one of our go-to California craft breweries, this one is rich and round, with plenty of hops and a citrus tang, but very food-friendly, too.

Harpoon Brewery UFO Cranbeery ($10.49/6-pack)

If you've had enough pumpkin spice for the season, and/or if you'd like to get your cranberry hit in liquid form instead of jellied for a change, this nicely fruity unfiltered wheat beer, flavored with Ocean Spray cranberries, is just the thing.

Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin Ale ($10.99/6-pack)

No, not a "pumpkin spice" brew but a beer made with barley malt and Dickinson pumpkins — amber-hued, toasty, and surprisingly dry.

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter ($12.99/6-pack)

"Inspired by" Hunter S. Thompson (oh, my!) and with a Ralph Steadman label, this is one to bring to the table if you want to shake things up a bit. Very malty, with roasting coffee and hot chocolate flavors and plenty of aromatic hops. Probably best poured after the main course is finished.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale ($13.99/6-pack)

One to drink with those Thanksgiving pies, or instead of them — a beer brewed with pumpkin but also brown sugar and, yes, pumpkin spice — cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. A crowd-pleaser, for at least some of the crowd.

Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont ($17.95/4-pack)

The yeasty Belgian beers called saisons — sometimes described as "farmhouse ales" — were originally brewed as summertime quaffs, but they're all-year beers now, and this one evokes pears and apples with a touch of holiday spice.

Lindemans Kriek ($11.99/750 ml)

This popular Belgian standby, a low-alcohol lambic flavored with sour cherries, is on the sweet side, with a lovely aroma of yeast and fruit and an effervescence that fills and tickles the mouth like rosé champagne.

Woodchuck Amber Cider ($8.99/6-pack)

A Thanksgiving-dinner cider that offers nice apple-y fruit and good mouthfeel but is light enough in body, with fine enough carbonation, that it won't interfere with all those turkey and stuffing and Brussels sprouts flavors.

Crispin Cider Company Pacific Pear ($9.99/6-pack)

A change of pace — pear cider with gentle carbonation, pronounced pear flavor, and a tart finish. A cider for sauvignon blanc lovers.

Stella Artois Cidre ($10.99/6-pack)

Stella isn't only beer — it's so-called "cider beer," too. This light, classy, tart-sweet (with the accent on the second syllable) offering is better than you'd expect a mass-produced cider to be, and would go nicely throughout a holiday meal.

Austin Eastciders Blood Orange Cider ($13.99/6-pack)

Cider is sometimes described as having citrusy notes. This entry from Austin takes the idea literally, blending Italian blood orange juice with Texas apple juice in a way that lets both the oranges and the apples come through in surprisingly happy harmony.

Aval Cidre Artisanal ($16.99/4-pack)

A definitive French cider from Brittany made with assorted Breton heritage apple varieties. Apples and brown sugar in the nose, tart apples with a backdrop of tannin in the mouth. Clean and eminently quaffable.

Getting a head start on your Christmas shopping? Consider giving one of these 15 splendid spirits for the holidays.