BEN GILIBERTI The right wine choice for the Thanksgiving bird is easy -- white or red. What really matters is not the color, but the style. To stand up to not only the turkey, but the yams, cranberry sauce, stuffing and all the other fixings, the wine has to be bold and beautiful. Because the guest list may be long, the wine should also be priced to please a good-sized throng.
Fortunately, the bounty of the Thanksgiving harvest is matched by the largess of recent wine vintages around the world. While there is a time and place for mellow old wines from the cellar, Thanksgiving isn't one of them. The bounteous fruit of younger wines matches better with turkey and the trimmings, and younger wines tend to cost less, too.
If you have enough glassware, serve both red and white. It's nice to proceed from white to red, or to offer guests their choice. Reds should be served at cool room temperature. Remove whites from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving so the flavors are not numbed. Fill the glasses no more than halfway to let the bouquet expand.
Take this list with you to the store. No store will have every wine, so be open to alternatives. All are highly recommended. Prices are approximate.
WHITES UNDER $20
Grange des Rouquette 2004 Marsanne-Viognier Blanc ($9-10; Kacher Selections): In this wine, the exotic aromatics of the viognier interplay with the soft fruit of the marsanne grape with great panache.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Semillon Columbia Valley 2003 ($9-$11; NDC): Though often overlooked in favor of sauvignon blanc, Semillon, the other white grape of Bordeaux, is plush and honeyed. This lightly oaked example from Washington state is delicious.
Chapoutier Cotes du Rhone White Belleruche 2003 ($11-$13; Paterno): Celebrity winemaker Michel Chapoutier can't hide that his true passion is white wine, whether it is the Ermitage White L'Ermite 2001, which sells for $300, or this peach-scented Cotes du Rhone blanc, which goes for $12.
Beringer Alluvium Blanc Knights Valley 2003/2002 ($17): This barrel-fermented blend of sauvignon blanc and Semillon is an eye-opener, similar in style and quality to more expensive new-wave blends from Pessac-Legonan in Bordeaux. Impressive.
Hugel et Fils Gentil 2003/2004 ($11; Frederick Wildman): A blend of Gewuerztraminer, pinot gris, Riesling, sylvaner and muscat, this telegraphs the bold ripe fruit of Alsace's recent vintages.
Chateau Grande Cassagne 2004 Marsanne-Roussanne ($10; Kacher Selections); Chateau Grande Cassagne 2004 Hippolyte Prestige Blanc ($12-$13; Kacher Selections): Both are complex and racy. The Hippolyte offers more concentration from older vines and is finished with a luxurious dollop of new oak.
Cantina Terlano Alto Adige Classico Terlaner 2003/2004 ($17; Washington Wholesale): Fascinating blend of pinot bianco and chardonnay, with 10 percent sauvignon blanc adding ethereal aromatics.
Lungarotti Torgiano Torre di Giano 2004 ($19; Paterno): Great style in this wine, which combines flinty notes of the Umbrian soil with the bold flavors of traditional Italian grapes.
Ferrari-Carano Winery 2003/2004 Fume Blanc Sonoma County ($15; NDC): Prestige at a fair price, the entry-level Ferrari-Carano fume blanc (another name for sauvignon blanc) is vivacious and fruity.
REDS UNDER $20
Sebastiani Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2004/2003 ($16): Silky smooth and loaded with bing cherry and strawberry fruit accented by spicy vanilla oak, this stylish offering is tailor-made for the bird.
Fairview Estate Pinotage Paarl 2003/2004 ($11-$12; South Africa); Fairview Goats do Roam in Villages Red Coastal Region 2003/2004 ($11-$12; South Africa): South Africa's pinotage grape is an adventurous and winning choice with turkey. The first wine is all pinotage, and the second is a tangy blend of pinotage, shiraz, grenache and cinsault.
Fabbri Terra di Lamole 2003 Chianti Classico ($16; Siema): This highly aromatic, medium-bodied Chianti is supple and sophisticated.
Georges Duboeuf 2004 Flower Label Beaujolais "Moulin-a-Vent" ($12); Georges Duboeuf 2004 St.-Amour "Domaine du Paradis" ($13); Louis Jadot 2004 Beaujolais-Villages ($8-$9): The 2004 Beaujolais are firmer than usual and will work well at Thanksgiving. The Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent is one of the 10 so-called "cru" of Beaujolais. Although Moulin-a-Vent is usually considered the best cru, the differences are slight. If you can't find Moulin-a-Vent, go for one of the other cru, which Duboeuf also offers in the Flower Label series. These include Fleurie, Brouilly, Cotes de Brouilly, Morgon, Regnie, St.-Amour, Julienas, Chenas and Chiroubles. All offer considerably more emphatic flavors than Dubouef's other Beaujolais, such as Beaujolais-Villages and the very popular Beaujolais-Nouveau.
The Georges Duboeuf 2004 St.-Amour "Domaine du Paradis" is my favorite among Duboeuf's single vineyard bottlings. In general, these Duboeuf's offerings, whether from Fleurie, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent and other areas, are a cut above in quality and are usually worth the extra dollar or two over Duboeuf's other wines.
For an alternative to Duboeuf's effusively fruity style, which uses a relatively modern technique called carbonic maceration, try Louis Jadot 2004 Beaujolais Villages, which is made using traditional Burgundian methods and is a bit subtler. Serve all Beaujolais lightly chilled.
Gallo of Sonoma Syrah Sonoma County Reserve 2003/2002 ($13): Well balanced and intensely fruity, Gallo's Sonoma County Syrah is savory and mouth filling.
Ravenswood Zinfandel California Vintners Blend 2003/2002 ($10): Zinfandel is the all-American grape, and the Ravenswood Vintners Blend captures its charm. (Serve lightly chilled.)
Proshyan Pomegranate Wine (non-vintage) ($10; Armenia; Ararat Imports; (919) 875-3999): For guests hooked on sweet wines -- and there are many -- this unusual fortified wine made from pomegranates will be quite pleasing.
WHITES MORE THAN $20
Domaine du Vieux Lazaret 2003 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ($25; DOPS): A white Chateauneuf-du-Pape that competes with the great reds of the region, this expressive wine offers big flavors of white flowers and fresh peach, and a resounding finish. Special.
Pieropan Soave Classico Superiore La Rocca 2002 ($35; Empson): Forget what you think you know about soave. This shockingly beautiful, barrel-fermented example redefines the breed.
REDS MORE THAN $20
Worthy 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley "Sophia's Cuvee" ($29): A blend of declassified lots from the cult Axios Cabernet Sauvignon (which sells for $125), the 2003 Worthy is a knockout. Ready to drink now.
Rocche Costamagna Nebbiolo d'Alba 2002 ($25; Siema): Owing to the difficult conditions of the 2002 harvest, Rocche Costamagna declassified the best lots from its Barolo Bricco Francesco and Barolo Rocche dell'Annunziata into this Nebbiolo d'Alba. Except for aging potential, this is essentially a fine Barolo at half price.
Ben Giliberti, The Post's wine critic since 1987, can be reached at email@example.com.