Nine Great Wines for Thanksgiving, Your Family, and the Planet
(Bloomberg) -- There are plenty of ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. But what binds everyone on that day, beyond all the eating and drinking, is that we share this planet—which is why I’m thankful that more wineries than ever are taking sustainability seriously.
This year, aiming for a more “normal” holiday (meaning not on Zoom) and inspired by COP 26, my family is planning a planet-friendly version of the feast, and as usual, I’ll pour American. Which wines fulfill all the customary requirements, yet also satisfy a desire to go green? I’m on it.
Confusion reigns on this feast day, because the table includes such a wide range of food tastes and textures that trying to pair them with wine seems an impossible task. Your centerpiece turkey might be slow-smoked, rubbed with chiles, barbecued, deep-fried, or a plant-based substitute. Typical traditional sides are all over the place in flavor, ranging from earthy, savory stuffing to sweet marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes to tart cranberry sauce, to salty gravy, creamy onions, and slightly bitter braised brussels sprouts. And that doesn’t take into consideration regional additions like sauerkraut (beloved in Baltimore).
The array of people who’ll gather around your table may be just as diverse—elderly aunts and uncles who favor a particular chardonnay, wine-adventurous friends who crave esoteric grapes, classicists who insist the only wine that goes with turkey is pinot noir, and those who demand ice cubes in the glass, no matter what.
Add in my green requirement, and it’s obvious that no single red, rosé, or white can bridge so much variety. So, as I usually do at this time, I’ll put out a mix of bottles so everyone can pick for themselves: tangy fizz so we can toast each other, crisp whites and lively rosés, light, bright reds served slightly chilled, and soft, mellow reds that slide down without a catch. Most desserts, like pecan pie, are too sweet for almost all wines; at the end, it’s time to pull out an old madeira, vintage rum, or even a small-batch bourbon.
My nine picks are food-friendly crowd pleasers. One key to their versatility is juicy acidity, that lively zing that gives a wine energy, cuts through heavy, richly textured, snooze-inducing dishes, and refreshes your taste buds so you can go back for seconds and keep talking. They brim with fruit and are low in tannin, alcohol, and oaky flavors from barrel aging. All come from eco-conscious wineries committed to preserving the planet, whether by farming organically and biodynamically, conserving and recycling water, encouraging biodiversity, using solar power, cutting their carbon emissions, or, often, a combination of them all.
Remember, it’s a waste to splurge on super expensive wine–I am for a top price of about $25 (with a couple of splurges). Instead, make sure you have enough wine—say a bottle per person, which usually smooths over the kind of family disagreements that surface after a long day at the table.
NV Montinore Estate Vivacé ($23)
This fragrant sparkling wine from a 200-acre biodynamic estate in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is a blend of four white grape varieties. (“NV” stands for “non vintage”: As opposed to bearing a single year, a “NV” label indicates that grapes harvested in different years might have been combined for a consistent flavor over time.) This wine’s green apple and citrus zest flavors will pair with just about anything you serve.
NV Roederer Estate Brut ($23)
An elegant fizz made at the California outpost of the famous Champagne house. Vineyards are organic and farmed with the help of grazing sheep.
2019 Bonterra Chardonnay ($13)
A creamy-textured, citrusy, widely available chardonnay with dollops of viognier, muscat, and crisp sauvignon blanc is a natural with turkey. Bonterra has long been a green wine leader dedicated to organic farming, and just announced it has achieved climate-neutral certification for its entire business.
2020 Troon Vineyard Kubli Bench Amber ($33)
The delicious appeal of this fresh, honey-colored orange wine, a tangy blend of riesling, vermentino, and viognier, extends beyond geeks. Long farmed biodynamically, the Oregon winery has recently obtained regenerative organic certified status.
NV Ramona Organic Dry Sparkling Rosé (250 ml can, $5)
Wines in cans, like this pale pink spritzy one with tart cherry flavors and drink-me-now appeal, have a much lower carbon footprint than those in glass bottles. Yes, the organic grapes are grown in Italy, but the company founder and chief executive officer is American sommelier Jordan Salcito.
2020 Quivera Wine Creek Ranch Rosé ($25)
This richly colored grenache-centric Sonoma rosé, from a certified organic single vineyard, is both intense and gulpable. Quivera, located in Dry Creek Valley, has a long history of sustainability, maintains a huge organic garden, and is actively promoting biodiversity.
2019 Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Pinot Noir ($27)
Here’s your essential pinot, a silky-textured, red cherry-inflected, full-bodied red from a sustainability pioneer. The Jackson family co-founded the International Wineries for Climate Action in 2019 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Bottles contain 50% recycled glass.
2019 Tablas Creek Vineyard Patelin de Tablas Rouge ($20)
This easygoing, floral-scented, rich red blend of Rhône varieties brims with zest, spice, and personality. Tablas Creek is the world’s first certified regenerative organic vineyard, a holistic farming approach that embraces carbon capture, animal welfare, and employee fairness.
2016 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Los Carneros Pinot Noir ($53)
This is a perfect splurge red, from a climate-smart Napa winery that’s long pursued organic and biodynamic farming. It recycles water and powers tractors on used cooking oil. This wine brims with cranberry and spice aromas and similar flavors, with earth and floral notes.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.