Ye Olde Dreaded Thanksgiving Day Wine Article (And Other November Tidbits, Including The Most Talked About Wines Online In 2013)

Vinted on November 28, 2013 binned in going pro, holidays

It’s time for wine writers and wine geeks to heave a collective, heavy sigh.

Just as every story about Australia is spiritually obligated to include a photo of the Sydney Opera House (seriously, what is with that?), the close of November brings the wine geek heartburn of Ye Olde Dreaded Thanksgiving Day Wine Pairing Article.

Long-time 1WD readers already know how I feel about the subject of Ye Olde Dreaded Thanksgiving Day Wine Pairing Article. But there is NO way that any wine writing gig is letting a wine writer out of having to pen that one, because people apparently want the help. Ironically, it’s the very situation that causes wine drinkers angina – the fact that the Turkey Day dinner table, with its clashes of foodstuffs of various flavors, textures, and sweetness levels, is a veritable mine field for any one wine pairing choice – that makes the task of recommending wines for Thanksgiving dinner more or less impossible.

Seriously. It’s like Strangelets or Antiparticles. Theoretically they’re there, and theoretically we can test for their existence, but not without a crap ton of work and learning from failed attempts. Actually, in the case of Strangelets, testing for their existence in a large scale particle collider could theoretically create a chain reaction that turns all matter on Earth into Strangelets, which would suck major donkey bong (but only for a few millionths of a second, after which you’d just be a bunch of Strangelet particles) if it happened on Thanksgiving and you were really looking forward to your Aunt’s pumpkin pie. Best if we just not think about that one from here on out, okay?

Anyway… there are general guidelines that can reduce the impossibility quotient of the Turkey Day wine decision, and this year I’ve used the wine gig as the outlet for my latest take on those. They’re in Dos/Don’ts format, and include at least one reversal of a a previous Thanksgiving dinner wine recommendation that I’ve given in the past, which if nothing else can provide you some fodder for making fun of me and calling me a hack, which is another annual tradition for some people (if you’re one of them: you’re welcome!)…

This month’s wine article roundup also includes my take on Jeff Siegel’s excellent new book, titled The Wine Curmudgeon’s Guide to Cheap Wine. Jeff’s brief tome could have proven handy for helping you select a non-budget-busting Turkey Day wine, if only you’d read it before Turkey Day (ah, the irony!). I was pleasantly surprised that Jeff sent me a copy to review, given that in some respects I am part of the problem (often focusing on lower-production, not-too-easy-to-find, and sometimes very pricey wines in my wine features). The Wine Curmudgeon’s Guide to Cheap Wine isn’t short on good writing or on well-crafted tirades about the state of the wine biz, and it’s worth the sticker price for those aspects alone.

This month I’ve also reviewed The World of Sicilian Wine by MW Bill Nesto and Frances di Savino, a book that, like bottles of Sicilian wines, taunted me from the sample pile with an imagined look of snooty condescension, as if saying “dude, really, isn’t it time you stopped being a snob and spending time on all of that 300 case production Portuguese shizz and blew the dust off of me… you prick?” They didn’t really say that, of course. In reality they mocked me with their silence!!! Anyway,  The World of Sicilian Wine is an odd entry into the wine book canon, as it’s really a sort of anthropology book about Sicily that uses wine as a fulcrum (or maybe an excuse) to delve into some fascinating aspects of Sicilian history and culture; not a bad X-mas gift pick for the wine geek who feels as though s/he has already read it all and is jaded with the overview/history/producers/vintage-charts format of most wine region overviews.

Finally, with the help of Napa-based wine and technology think-tank group Vintank, I compiled a list of the most-talked about wine types online so far in 2013, as measured across all social media channels. The results are surprising (to me, anyway), particularly the number one spot. You can check out the article for the top five, but here are the “bottom five” that didn’t make it into the piece, courtesy of Vintank: 10) Riesling (hay!… and almost neck-and-neck with…), 9) Malbec, 8) Zinfandel, 7) Moscato (yeah… I know, I am sick of it too, already), and 6) Syrah (who says this variety is dead? not online, it’s not!). Those last five received mentions in the 300K-500K range, with the top five seeing online mentions in the 550K to 1.4M range.

Actually, that’s not the real “Finally…” This is the real “Finally…” today: have an epically amazing, hedonically stimulating, and mentally and physically safe and rejuvenating Turkey Day!






  • Bob Henry


    Be a Pilgrim: drink beer.

    Preferably American . . . so you don't run into that "dust up" between W. Blake Gray and Eric Asimov:

    ~~ Bob

    • 1WineDude

      Bob, yeah, beer is a great option particularly if you’re planning on watching football, I think. As for that argument that Blake stirred up, that’s probably one of the least useful exchanges on wine I’ve ever seen. Really, who gives a sh*t if someone drinks Bordeaux or California wine on turkey day? Anything who cares about that is either selling wine or is probably already drunk and looking for a fight. Now, of it’s important to you to drink American wine on a holiday that is also celebrated outside of the U.S., then that’s your business. There is, of course, no right/wing answer there.

  • Solomon Mengeu

    Interesting post Joe Roberts and yes fighting about which wine to drink on Thanksgiving seems rather foolish; at my house we had a pot luck; roast chicken with an assortment of random food Western & Eastern. Being that it was definitely non-wine crowd we went with a Barton & Guestier Pay d' Oc (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsaut & maybe some Carginan) not a 'wow' wine but somewhat drinkable.

    Those links you put into the article were interesting, especially the 5 most talked about wines on-line in 2013; rather surprised to see Pinot Noir in #2 place. As I was definitely expecting either Char or Cab Sav to be there, but perhaps people are awaking out of their slumber, maybe.

    Lots of wine writers like to quote the 'Sideway's' effect but I think it also has to do with wine makers in Oregon, Washington, & California working hard to improve the wine & it's image. Then there is the rest of the awesome wine world both Old & New making outstanding Pinot; hope it can knock smug Cabernet Sauvignon off its lofty pedestal some day!


    Solomon Mengeu

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Solomon. Sorry, don’t mean to diss the great pinot work being done, obviously that’s part of the popularity. Cheers!

  • Marie

    I gave up on the whole pairing thing this year and provided a variety of hard ciders (plus fresh – not mulled – for the non-drinkers in the crowd). You want acid, you want fruit, you want sweet, you want refreshing…it was all there, something for everyone and for every dish. (And all-American, if anyone cared – which no one did.) With the lower alcohol, it also allowed those of us who like an after-dinner Scotch to imbibe without worrying about the drive home. Everyone wins.

    • 1WineDude

      Marie, that is awesome! Bowing to your brilliant strategy right now!

  • gabe

    I drank Gamay Neuveau (from Oregon) this Thanksgiving, and it was a pretty fantastic addition to the Thanksgiving table. Light and bright enough to balance out the rich, heavy dishes; red enough to satiate the crowd. Also low in alcohol and relatively inexpensive, so we could suck down quite a bit of it over the marathon meal. I agree that there are no "perfect" Thanksgiving wines, but this one checked-off a lot of boxes on the Thanksgiving wine checklist.

    • Marie

      Beaujolais-Villages has been my go-to red for the holidays for years, for the very reasons you list. I haven't tried an OR Gamay yet, but hey – Christmas is coming… I may have to hunt one down! Thanks for the idea!

    • 1WineDude

      Nicely done, gabe. So, can I come over for next year’s dinner? ;-)

      • gabe


        Gamay Neuveau is a pretty new thing in Oregon, but we are starting to pull it together. There were three (that I know of) made this year, by Division Winemaking Co., Bow & Arrow Wines, and Grouchau Cellars. I made about four cases myself, but I haven't taken that national just yet.


        Yes! Thanksgiving is a pretty big deal at my house – this year we started at 10 am with biscuits and gravy, and ended after the midnight turkey sandwich course

        • 1WineDude

          Gabe, I don’t know if I can hang for 14 hours of eating and drinking! ;-)

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