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Choosing wines to enjoy with Thanksgiving dinner

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Thanksgiving hostess tips

Choosing Thanksgiving wine pairings is easy! Why? Because it's hard to make a bad choice. Simply picking your favorite wines to share with your guests on this special day will make them thankful. We have some ideas for you, too!

Thanksgiving Turkey and Wine

A variety of tastes

Because your guest list is as diverse as the dishes you plan on serving, we have supplied you with advice for red wines, white wines, rosés and sparkling wines to serve. You may prefer to serve all whites or all reds, or a few selections of each. You may want to start the evening with a sparkling wine and carry it all the way through the meal. And, don't forget how delicious rosés can be. Also, this is the time to serve your wines "family style," the way you serve your meal -- just open your selections and let your guests help themselves to the tastes they like. Whatever you choose, we wish you the best Thanksgiving ever.

Because there are so many good wine and food pairings for Thanksgiving dinner, just select the type of wine you favor -- and let us offer options to please every palate.

Red wines

Much of the appeal of Thanksgiving dinner is found in the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen while the meal is being prepared. And a very aromatic red wine such as Pinot Noir fits right in and adds its own unique appeal. Generally light in body, with soft texture as a counterpoint to its lovely aroma, Pinot Noir is easy to love, especially among the many flavors of Thanksgiving.

Every year in November, the first wine of the harvest in the Beaujolais region in France makes its way to market. The wine -- Beaujolais Nouveau (literally "new Beaujolais") is as fresh and appealing as its name. Made of the Gamay grape, this fresh, purple wine is all fruit and no pretension, and well complements Thanksgiving fare. And, as it can be enjoyed slightly chilled, it is likely to please those who favor white wines, too.

For those who like their red wines hearty and full of flavor, a Syrah or Zinfandel will nicely balance even the most flavorful and spicy Thanksgiving fare. Whether from the Rhone Valley in France or California, or Australia (where they are called 'Shiraz') they offer great depth of color and flavor, with a decidedly peppery note that many find delicious. Similarly, the all-American Zinfandel is a sturdy red wine with lots of spice on its own to satisfy the hunger for lots of flavor to go with the meal.

White wines

One of the best pairings for turkey, and many of the traditional side dishes, is Chardonnay, a wine nearly always made in a dry but fresh and fruity style. Choose a full-bodied, ripe, fruity Chardonnay from California, Australia or Chile, and you'll have a wine that serves well from appetizers through the meal.

A slightly more crisp wine that also goes well with the traditional meal is Sauvignon Blanc, with its bright fruit acidity and plenty of herbaceous character to complement the many spices in the stuffing and side dishes.

Those who favor a lighter and more delicate white wine will find Riesling from Washington State or the Finger Lakes region of New York a great match for Thanksgiving dinner. The light floral aroma of Riesling and its soft, fresh fruit flavors fit nicely into the array of seasonings this traditional dinner offers, and the hint of sweetness offered by most Rieslings gives this wine great appeal for many palates.

Rosé wines

It's true that dry rose wines go well with almost any dish, and with so many flavors on the table at Thanksgiving, rose can be a great choice. If your taste runs to drier wines, a rose from the Cotes du Rhone or Provence regions in France will be light, crisp and flavorful, but won't overpower the meal. A dry rose from California -- made from one of the Rhone grape varieties such as Grenache -- will also nicely fill the bill.

If your tastes run to the slightly sweeter and fruitier wines, White Zinfandel is a good choice, with supple, ripe fruit flavors that fit right in with sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and the sweet onion flavors of most stuffings.

Sparkling wines

Because a traditional Thanksgiving meal brings together such a diverse range of flavors, and some that are rich or slightly sweet, a sparkling wine that is not completely dry will please nearly everyone.

If your choice is French Champagne or California sparkling wine, choose one labeled "extra dry," ("brut" is the driest category, and "extra dry" is just a little softer, with fuller fruit flavors). Another good choice for a delicious sparkling wine for this holiday meal is one from the Loire Valley in France. These wines are made from the Chenin Blanc grape, and offer fresh and luscious fruit flavors that harmonize well with all of the traditional Thanksgiving delights.

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