Thanksgiving: What We’re Drinking | Stephanie Johnson - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Thanksgiving: What We’re Drinking | Stephanie Johnson

You know the saying, “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth.” But what about too many sommeliers?

The W&S staff plays sommelier at our respective Thanksgiving feasts, a role often complicated by family traditions—some loved, some eagerly forgotten. Or by the food—a subject on which everyone has an opinion. Or, in some years, by the family…. There are those Thanksgivings, in fact, in which we wish we could simply nab our favorite dish and bottle of wine and take them off to someplace quiet to enjoy them in peace. Here are some of our favorite bottles and dishes—and a few recipes to boot.

Stephanie Johnson
Tasting Director (NYC)
Finger Lakes Riesling, Cru Beaujolais and Cornas

From my earliest memories, our family’s Thanksgiving menu hasn’t changed: Butterball turkey, mashed potatoes, Stouffer’s stuffing, gravy, glazed sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce in the shape of a can and pumpkin pie. Wine was never part of the meal in grandma’s day, though the Scotch flowed freely (for the men, at least). I started bringing wine before I knew anything about it, and while everyone happily consumes any bottles that appear on the table, I doubt that anyone would notice if I forgot to bring it.

This indifference offers plenty of latitude for my choices, which are guided more by alcohol level; since “dinner” never starts later than 3 p.m., I try to stay below 13 percent alcohol. Festive sparklers kick things off, along the lines of Les Capriades Rosé or PUR La Bulle gamay. I keep a red and white on the table during dinner: riesling with a touch of residual sugar (in case the turkey spent too much time in the oven)—Selbach-Oster Kabinett, or Hermann Wiemer Finger Lakes Semi-Dry; and a cru Beaujolais from Dutraive or JP Brun. When leftovers roll around and everyone has lost interest in wine, that’s my signal to crack out a personal favorite like Allemand Cornas, which keeps me very happy for the rest of the evening.

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is the Italian wine editor at Wine & Spirits magazine.

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