Assembling wines for Thanksgiving? The challenge is heady. Gramma likes a little Fino Sherry with her turkey stuffing (but then Gramma likes to sip Sherry with just about anything, including Jimmy Dean sausage). Wife, son and one son-in-law favor big reds. Another son-in-law is happy with Bud Lite. Daughter-in-law likes delicate reds but oaky Chardonnay. The neighbors served box wine at their daughter’s wedding.

Whatever the dinner fare and range of palates, one approach is to try a selection of red, white and rose wines, with one choice in each category under $20 and one over $20. For fun, have a secret ballot for each guest to vote for wine of the night. Reveal results when you bring out the Port with dessert. The following are candidates for the hunt, with short notes on style for reference:




Robert Mondavi 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $19. Stylish, better than many $30+ wines. Napa mint/Cabernet nose; balanced; deep not hard.

Patz & Hall 2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $40. Clean, straightforward Pinot nose; complex, hints of oak aging; complex finish. Pinot Noirs are a good match for dark meat or ham.


Beckmen 2008 Grenache Santa Ynez Valley Rosé Purisima Mountain Vineyard, $18. Fresh, fruity, stone-fruit nose; balanced; rich for a rose. Also: Quivira, 2009, Grenache Rose in the $18 range. Try Roses with appetizers, white meat, stuffing, ham.

Chateau d’Esclans 2008 Côtes de Provence Rosé Esclans, $35. More complex nose of strawberries, cherries; a cornucopia of different fruit flavors on the palate; long finish.


Artesa 2008 Chardonnay Carneros, $12. Toasty, tropical, buttery nose; fat; soft. Great with shrimp, other appetizers, salads.

Beringer 2008 Chardonnay, Napa Valley Private Reserve, $35. Intense varietal nose, hints of oak aging; long rich finish. With seafood, white meat, vegetable dishes with cheese sauces, garlic mashed potatoes.