Finding wines to complement traditional Thanksgiving cuisine is the stuff of sommelier nightmares (turns out there are no foolproof pairings for cranberry sauce). The muscular reds we Americans tend to favor on special occasions will turn decidedly sour somewhere between grandpa’s anti-Obama diatribe and the Detroit Lions’ annual Turkey Day shellacking. “Stay away from oak,” advises Link Landvik-Larsen, New York-based sommelier and wine importer (American Zinfandel and Australian Shiraz: This means you). He pointed us toward Beaujolais, that cheap and cheerful Burgundy produced from the eminently quaffable Gamay grape. And specifically, 2009 Cru Beaujolais (a vintage which rightfully invites hyperbole from the wine-swirling set). We like this Domaine de Chavannes Côte de Brouilly, sourced from twelve choice acres on Mont Brouilly, where blue granite seasoned with volcanic deposits nourishes a fine, elegant, uncluttered expression of Gamay. Fruit-forward enough for the yams, understated enough for the white meat. And here’s something to be thankful for: $25 for a “once in a century” vintage.
But before you crack open the Beaujolais, consider fortifying the gang (and yourself) with some bubbly. Landvik-Larsen advises against Champagne (too dry, and too, um, classy for our day of couch-cushion gluttony) and recommends Prosecco, an Italian sparkler with just an air-kiss of fruitiness. Certainly no celebration was ever the sorrier for popping a bottle of Zardetto, a versatile go-to from Conegliano that’s composed of 95% Glera (Prosecco) and 5% Chardonnay. It’s spumanti (fully sparkling) and brut (containing some residual sugar), and it has a habit of disappearing quickly. Of course, at $14, you can afford to keep the flutes fizzing. Moderation? That’s for January.