What's Thanksgiving Without Wine?

I could still enjoy Thanksgiving or any other holiday without wine, but honestly, I don't want to.  I enjoy a beautiful glass of wine with dinner.  I like one with dessert, too, and while preparing the meal, and... - well, you get my point!

Most of my friends would agree their current go-to wines for Thanksgiving dinner are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Pinot is a choice is solid (my personal fav) and possibly brilliant: A high-acid, low-tannin Pinot, can do right by almost all the side dishes a big bird requires. Chardonnay, for me, is a puzzler, at least if it's a buttery and oaky (at the bottom of my choices, for sure).  I'd suggest trying a Rose', which has become one of my favorites over the past few years. Rose's are dry, crisp and bursting with flavor.  I think they will be among the most versatile wines on your table.

The trouble with applying the "I'll drink whatever" principle to Thanksgiving is that there's just so much going on ― herby gravy, tangy cranberry sauce, savory dressing.... And sweet potatoes are, well, sweet, even without marshmallows. 

It seems natural that wine for Thanksgiving should come from American makers.  Above all, for your family at Thanksgiving, the wines shouldn't be intimidating. This isn't the time to show off or get overly complex.  Bring out something familiar and yummy.

Dale Robertson at The Houston Chronicle suggests these wines that can be found locally:

2012 Golden Eye Gowan Creek Pinot Noir

Overall score: 17 (9 for quality, 8 for value)

Our tasters: Gave it a unanimous recommendation with four scores of 9 or higher. "A big, round and concentrated wine but one that's well-balanced."

Critical acclaim: Earned a score of 92 from Wine Spectator: "Generous, offering ripe plum, black cherry and wild berry flavors, with touches of anise and black licorice. Ends with hints of dusty dried herb and cedar that fold into the finish."

Buy it: $73.99

2012 Frei Brothers Reserve Pinot Noir

Overall score: 18.9 (8.9 for quality, 10 for value)

Our tasters: Gave it a unanimous recommendation with a high score of 9.2 and two scores of 9. "Cherry and tobacco notes. Well-structured but also yummy."

Critical acclaim: Earned a 90 from Wine Enthusiast: "Beguiling streaks of red cherry surround a light, spicy, food-friendly core that's well balanced and integrated, the oak and tannin elegantly respectful of the red fruit. It offers medium weight amid the smoothness."

Buy it: $21.84

2013 J Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Overall score: 17.9 (8.9 for quality, 9 for value)

Our tasters: It didn't work for one, but another awarded a 9.3, and two others scored it 9 or higher. "Pronounced dried red fruit. Finishes long."

Critical acclaim: Earned a score of 90 from the Wine Enthusiast: "Made in a full-bodied style, this estate wine is generous in blackberry, black licorice and dark cherry, with classic cola spice dancing around its edges. Smooth and memorable, it is made from a handful of vineyards, including Nicole's, Bow Tie and Robert Thomas, all vineyard-designates of their own for the producer."

Buy it: $32.89