What is the proper wine with Thanksgiving turkey? After considerable research, I'm back where I started. Here is one meat and one meal for which there is no rule. The only certainty is that wine is the most festive of beverages. It will add a sense of occasion to your holiday meal.
Those few people who will build a Thanksgiving menu around wine need no advice from this corner. In my home, it is not a meal for a succession of wines. We do without fish courses and cheese courses, planning on only a few appetizers before the main event.
Consider the turkey. It's mostly white meat, so should the wine be white? It's been roasted and will be served with a brown pan gravy, so should the wine be red? The meat is bland, so perhaps the wine should be soft and delicate. If there's stuffing (let us hope there is) and some other highly seasoned dishes, perhaps the wine should be full and robust.
My own preference has been for a lightly chilled Beaujolais, or for rieslings of Alsace, drier and fuller-bodied than the rieslings of Germany.
Red wine options I recommend are a light zinfandel from California, perhaps Paul Masson or Italian Swiss Colony, the generic reds of Fetzer or Robert Mondavi, or a mild petit chateau Bordeaux such as Chateau Graysac from the 1974 vintage.
Those who favor white wine should consider a chenin blanc from Souverain, Gallo or Inglenook, or Parducci's French Colombard. From France, ask for a dry Vouvray or Macon blanc.
The brand name half-gallon and gallon jugs are obvious possibilities if a crowd is coming. Among them consider Louis Martini's Mountain Red, Summit California Burgundy from Geyser Peak, Sebastiani's Mountain Burgundy or Barengo's Red Wine.
Less obvious, but in the ball park, is a rose with character such as Ste. Michelle from Washington State or Simi from California. To me these wines are more satisfactory than sparkling burgundy, the farout choice of some wine fanciers.
Brut Champagne is an ideal aperitif, but for your pumpkin pie dessert choose something less dry such as the demi-sec of Hanns Kornell or an Italian Asti-Spumante from Cinzano. Or, to be patriotic and in tune with the holiday, buy the 1977 Thanksgiving Harvest riesling from The Monterey Vineyard. It's touched with sweetness but not heavy, and the grapes were picked just a year ago.