We both come from families where Thanksgiving is a big deal. Preparation begins almost a week ahead, and yet the rush to get everything on the table in time for dinner always reaches a chaotic crescendo just as everyone is sitting down. But we love it because it is an opportunity to gather with family and friends, and celebrate with fabulous food and an assortment of wonderful wines.
Each year, we like to pick a wine theme for Thanksgiving and have some fun with it. And while the themes may change from year to year, the challenge of pairing wines with a traditional Thanksgiving meal still remains the same. Add to that the task of pairing wines to suit different guests' tastes and preferences (while staying within budget), and the undertaking seems nearly impossible.
Not to worry. In order to help navigate the wine pairing challenge, we each offer our assortment of wines for this year's Thanksgiving theme, all-American wines. Retail prices are approximate.
She said -- white wines
I love to start off with a sparkling wine. The nonvintage Mumm Napa Cuvee M ($23) from Napa Valley, Calif., with its beautiful stream of fine bubbles, gently lifts aromas of ripe peaches, honeyed nectarines, pear fruit and hints of yeasty notes to the surface. The party continues on the palate, where flavors of baked apples mingle with hints of buttered toast. It's all built on a creamy frame that emphasizes the long, clean finish. QPR 8
If you are looking for the perfect pairing for turkey, look no further than the 2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle-Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling ($20) from the Columbia Valley in Washington state. This wine was originally a collaboration between the Mosel winemaker Ernst Loosen and Chateau Ste. Michelle. Today, it still delivers loads of apple, honeysuckle and pineapple aromas on the fragrant bouquet and beautifully seductive flavors of ripe apple, pears and white peaches. Hints of minerals sneak in on the concentrated finish. QPR 9.5
The 2009 Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay ($29) from the Napa Valley is also good with turkey. This certified biodynamic chardonnay offers generous aromas of pear cobbler with hints of orange blossom and toasty oak. The palate delivers flavors of wines twice the price with pretty notes of honeycrisp apple, lemon meringue and vanilla on the remarkably long and elegant finish. QPR 9
He said -- red wines
I am sure that Francis Ford Coppola, the famous director-turned-wine producer, will have a bottle of the versatile 2010 Coppola Diamond Collection Scarlet Label Red Blend ($18) from Napa Valley on his Thanksgiving dinner table this year. This blend of zinfandel, syrah, petite sirah, cabernet sauvignon and merlot offers up aromas of dark cherries and red plums on the nose and flavors of blueberries, black currant, licorice and sweet oak on the medium-bodied frame. QPR 8
For cabernet lovers, the 2009 Mondavi Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($25) from California is wonderfully dense and extremely focused, with an aromatic nose of blueberry and saddle leather scents and flavors of blackberry, cassis and dark chocolate on the front of the palate that nicely integrate with notes of dried herbs and tobacco on the lengthy finish. QPR 9
I am a fan of pinot noir, which I think pairs nicely with both turkey and cranberries. So the 2010 Tyler Florence Gallery Vineyard Pinot Noir ($40) from Napa Valley will definitely find its way onto our wine roster. The nose is bursting with aromas of baked raspberries and red berry fruit. A richly textured mouthfeel offers up plenty of gorgeous red strawberries, ripe cherry and a hint of cranberry on the weighty finish. A pretty wine worthy of a splurge. QPR 8.5
Note: QPR is a rating system that compares the quality a wine delivers relative to the price. A QPR of 10 is considered an excellent value.