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40 (yes, 40!) Thanksgiving wines under $20


SheKnows Editorial

To brine or not to brine? That’s not even the question. For a lot of us, figuring out which wine to serve at Thanksgiving dinner means 30 minutes of sweaty paralysis in the wine store — especially if we’re expecting wine snob guests and we’re on a budget.

But there is hope for us, and it doesn’t involve elaborately funneling boxed wine into a fancy bottle you took from your neighbors recycling bin (not that I would ever do such a thing). That’s what we learned when we talked with Bill Dwyer, owner and wine buyer for The Vineyard, a wine and spirits shop in North Andover, Massachusetts.

“Having enough wine is more important than having the perfect wine. Having a diverse selection of wines for your guests to choose from is better than betting your reputation on one wine,” was the enthusiastic response from Dwyer.

More: 18 festive sparkling cocktails to ring in the new year

His suggestion? “Mix it up. Don’t just serve a wine. Serve a wine list! Choose several different types of wine for your guests to try. Make it dinner and a wine tasting. Each palate is unique. Every guest will find a wine to enjoy… but only if you have a selection of various wine styles for them.”

Now, all that wine can get pricey — but luckily, we had several wine experts weigh in on their favorites, all under $20 (you can see Dwyer’s list at the end).


2014 Banshee Sonoma Chardonnay, $19.99

“This Chardonnay is everything a big Thanksgiving feast demands of a chardonnay: It is rich, it is ripe, it is toasty and it is slightly buttery. Somehow, the Banshee winemaking team has been able to make all of those components very subtle, almost elusive, so it would even delight a white wine drinker who typically eschews this style; especially when it is paired with the Thanksgiving meal. It’s hard to find a solid white wine that can really stand up to everything without being too overdone, but this one fits the bill.”

— Mary McAuley, sommelier and founder/producer of Ripe Life Wines

2015 Domaine Lafage Côté d’Est, $9

“Looking for something you’ll enjoy drinking, but that your more traditional relatives will enjoy as well? Look no further. This wine, a Rhône blend, has a touch of oak but still lively acidity, so it won’t weigh down your palate, but it will still impress the fam.”

— Laura Booras, Riverbench Vineyard and Winery

Gewürztraminer from Anderson Valley, $19.99

“So the average wine drinker hasn’t heard of the varietal, the name is impossible to pronounce and it comes in a funny shape of a bottle. It’s well worth it though, especially because it’s one of the few types of wines that tells you on the label about its relative level of sweetness via a small chart on the back.”

— Mark Aselstine, Uncorked Ventures

Foxglove Chardonnay, $15

“For a full-flavored white wine to balance well with all the sweet and salty food at the table, we suggest a chardonnay. The toasted oak notes pair well with many family-favorite side dishes.”

— Trisha Antonsen, chief cocktail officer at Drizly

2015 Droin Chablis, $19.99

“Yes, this is chardonnay. But it’s definitely not your grandmother’s chardonnay. This stainless-steel tank-fermented beauty is full of bright citrus flavors and plenty of minerality to keep things interesting. This is not the butter bomb you might expect from chardonnay. Will be a perfect warm-up or elegant with the main course.”

— Laura Booras, Riverbench Vineyard and Winery


Meiomi Pinot Noir, $17

“This wine is a Thanksgiving favorite for many. The mellow flavor and light acidity balance well with a mild meat like turkey. The earthy and fruit flavors (think cherry and cranberry) are a perfect match for the seasonal food being served.”

— Trisha Antonsen, chief cocktail officer at Drizly

2014 Domaine du Vissoux Beaujolais Villages, $19

“There’s a lot of bad Beaujolais on the market at the under-$20 price point, so make sure you do your research to make sure you’re getting a good one… look for ‘Villages’ or ‘Cru’ on the label. While delicate and fruit-forward (think fresh blackberries and raspberries), it is also complex and boasts notes of violets and potting soil — great for easy, fall red wine drinking in general. Try it out with a drumstick, or a more gamey cut of the bird that really cries for a red wine to go pound for pound (pun intended).”

— Mary McAuley, sommelier and founder/producer of Ripe Life Wines

2013 Château Pesquié Terrasses Rouge, $13

“A blend of Syrah, Grenache and a few others, this red will really be a superstar at your Thanksgiving table. The fruit blends nicely with the blueberry jam undertones of this wine. Even if you aren’t going traditional turkey, this wine is a great one for food pairing.”

— Laura Booras, Riverbench Vineyard and Winery

2014 Evodia Garnacha, $9

“Wines from Spain are just starting to be appreciated for the wonderful bottles they are. Juicy and easy to drink, this red will please all palates at the table. Don’t underestimate this wine for the price; it over-delivers big time.”

— Laura Booras, Riverbench Vineyard and Winery

GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre)

“Find the section of you store (Bevmo or similar) for ‘other reds’ and look for GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre) blends from Paso Robles. They will not only fit in well enough with dinner, but for those folks usually only interested in cabernet, you won’t scare them off in the same way you might with a pinot noir. Blends, especially from lesser-known grapes, are notoriously more difficult to sell, so you usually end up with a pretty good value in the wine that you’re buying.”

— Mark Aselstine, Uncorked Ventures

Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon, $16

“You can’t really go wrong with this red. We’ve chosen it because for many red drinkers, it’s a go-to wine. The blackberry and currant flavors balance well with a rich meal. Don’t go for over-the-top flavor for Thanksgiving — you’re looking for a well-rounded red that will complement your food, not overpower it.”

— Trisha Antonsen, chief cocktail officer at Drizly

Domaine Jean Foillard Beaujolais Nouveau, $18 – $20

“I love-love-love nouveau Beaujolais with Thanksgiving. This one is an amazing price and offers earth and red fruit flavors. It’s perfect with the Thanksgiving meal. In fact, I’m already thinking about stuffing with this wine — that should be a match made in heaven.”

— Laura Booras, Riverbench Vineyard and Winery

More: 3 big-batch cocktails to get your family buzzed this fall


2015 Château Gassier, Rosé le Pas du Moine, $15

“Rosé is absolutely delicious with Thanksgiving. Even though the weather has usually cooled down and it feels like fall, rosé has the right flavor profile for the Thanksgiving meal. Think you didn’t have a wine to pair with sweet potatoes and marshmallows? Think again.”

— Laura Booras, Riverbench Vineyard and Winery


Sokol Blosser Evolution Sparkling Wine, $15

“Champagne, or sparkling wine, is always great when you need one wine to get you through multiple dishes. This one in particular from Willamette Valley is a steal at its price, unlike traditional Champagne that will break the bank. Its high acid will prep your palate for all the wonderful fats and starches you consume on this holiday, but the bubbles and residual yeasty notes found in Champagnes and sparkling wines give it the oomph and richness needed to be a great match and not just any old crisp white wine with which to wash down your bites. While this wine will do well with everything on the table, make sure you save a sip for the apple pie — it will be a home run combination.”

— Mary McAuley, sommelier and founder/producer of Ripe Life Wines

Domaine du Viking Vouvray Brut, $12

“Thanksgiving is a celebration, so starting with bubbles is a must! This easy-to-drink sparkler is bright, fresh and full of lively fruit. It’s a pleasure with any cheese tray or appetizer or would be a superstar even with the main course: turkey and cranberry sauce.”

— Laura Booras, Riverbench Vineyard and Winery

Bill Dwyer’s picks:

White Wines

  • Château de Pellehaut Chardonnay $13
  • Catena Chardonnay “High Mountain Vines” $19
  • Yalumba Viognier $12
  • Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier $15
  • Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc $13
  • Château Peynaud Bordeaux Blanc, $11
  • Hervé Azo Chablis St. Bris (sauvignon blanc) $15
  • Dr. L Riesling $12
  • Foris Dry Gewürztraminer $16
  • Murrieta’s Well “The Whip” White Blend $17

Rosé Wines

  • Cass Estates Rosé $19.99
  • A to Z Rosé of pinot noir $15
  • Penya Rose of Grenache noir & Syrah $10
  • Château Pesquié Rosé of Cinsault, Grenache & Syrah $15
  • Mulderbosch Rosé of cabernet sauvignon $13

Red Wines

  • J. Lohr “Wildflower” Valdiguié $11
  • Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau $11
  • Les Roches Bleues Côte de Brouilly $19.99
  • Domaine de Brunet Pinot Noir Reserve $15
  • McManis Family Pinot Noir $14
  • August Cellars Pinot Noir $18
  • Masciarelli Montepulciano $10
  • Tess Red Wine Blend $18
  • Breca Old Vines Garnacha $17
  • Bogle “Phantom” Red Blend $19.99

With these affordable wines in your arsenal, your Thanksgiving guests will leave the table feeling more than satisfied.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

17 Pumpkin cocktails that prove drinking squash is way better than eating it
Image: Cookie and Kate
40 (yes, 40!) Thanksgiving Wines under $20
Image: SheKnows

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