“Thanksgiving is the best wine day of the year,” Jim Winston declared. Winston was at DB Fine Wines in New Canaan conducting the store’s annual Thanksgiving wine tasting.  “It’s a day for good wines,” he went on to say, just not the very best. His example: Rather than serving Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape at $130 a bottle, open Coudoulet de Beaucastel ($30) from vineyards just across the road for $100 less.

He then led us through twelve wines that would be excellent partners with the traditional feast. 

The core of the Thanksgiving menu is well established – turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and – well you know the rest. Each table has its own family traditions or recent innovations that include a range of ingredients and flavors.

Delicious as dinner may be, picking a wine that will drink well with all that culinary diversity can be a challenge.   Red or white, every day or special, American or imported, sparkling or still – the choices go on. 

Wine professionals don’t always agree on this question, but they certainly have opinions. Seeking guidance, I reached out to industry insiders for some ideas in addition to Winston’s side by side tasting.

A Connecticut wine fits in well with the origins of Thanksgiving. At Aquilla’s Nest Vineyards, owner Neviana recommended their Zana e Malit dry Riesling ($29.75), bursting with the aromas and flavors of white peach, apricot, citrus blossom and lime.   

Six generations have worked the land at Jones Family Farms in the rolling White Hills of Shelton. In his turn, Jamie Jones added winemaking to the mix. White Lotus ($25), an Alsatian-style aromatic blend and the bright Lakeside Riesling ($20) are both recommended for a roast bird. 

Those are the kinds of wine that I can see on the table: fruit-driven, aromatic, and refreshing. 

JoAnn LoGiurato of Stew Leonard’s Wines in Norwalk and Julia Menn of Wines and More in Milford are on the same page, both suggesting a fresh and floral Vermentino.  LoGiurato recommends Chat au Château White ($15), a Vermentino blend from Provence.  Menn likes Aia Vecchia Vermentino ($16) from Tuscany.

Menn favors fragrant and food-friendly Riesling including Heyl Zu Herrnsheim German Riesling ($20) and Pierre Sparr Riesling ($19) from Alsace. 

Red wines can work just as well. Wine Director Kathleen Standridge of The Shipwright’s Daughter in Mystic suggests Giovanni Rosso Barbera d’Alba, Donna Margherita ($20). She finds it, “exceptionally versatile with a medium-full body, dark fruit, sour cherry notes, and fine and elegant tannins – a winner across the board.”

Beaujolais, like Jean Paul Brun Beaujolais Terres Dorées, l’Ancien ($19) on LoGurato’s list of recommendations, is a good red-wine fit. 

Matt Wallman at Ancona’s Wines in Wilton and Ridgefield highlighted La Kiuva, Arnad Rouge de Vallée ($15), from the Valle d’Aosta in the Italian Alps.  He described it as “Light on its feet yet remarkably complex,” the kind of wine that appeals to me. 

At the DB Wines tasting, Winston focused on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  His favorite red was a strawberry scented Gilles Coperet Beaujolais ($23) from the village of Morgon.  Full-flavored Domaine des Terres Dorées, Bourgogne Pinot Noir ($28) was richer and more full-bodied, an excellent partner with turkey.  

The only Sauvignon Blanc in the tasting, Domaine de Village, Côteaux du Giennois Rive Droite ($16), was Jim’s favorite white and a top pick for me, its bright fruit and crisp finish just right for the holiday table. Georges Blanc, Fleur d’Azenay Mâcon Villages 2017 ($28) was rich and robust, comparable to much pricier white Burgundy.  I could easily imagine the straw-colored, complex wine holding its own on Turkey day. 

There’s pretty wide agreement that well-oaked California Chardonnay, big time Napa Cab or all-American Zinfandel will overpower the Thanksgiving fixins. Lighter, fruitier wines with some acid and lower alcohol are a good bet for the big-deal meal. Red, White or sparkling almost anything can work. If you have a big enough crowd, put out several bottles and see which one empties first. 

Frank Whitman can be reached at NotBreadAloneFW@gmail.com.