Guide To Fine, Inexpensive T-Day Wine

Ray Isle of Food And Wine magazine shares some affordable wines that are "just perfect" for your holiday dinner. CBS

A good bottle of wine adds a touch of style to any Thanksgiving feast.

And believe it or not, you don't have to spend a lot to get a good bottle this year, according to Ray Isle of Food & Wine magazine. He helped with Food & Wine's "Wine Guide 2009."

On The Early Show Saturday Edition, Isle pointed to several inexpensive vintages sure to please the palates of all your guests. They'd go great with your turkey and all the fixings.

How can you purchase an inexpensive bottle of wine on Thanksgiving? Won't your guests be able to tell the difference?

The short answer is NO, unless they're insane wine connoisseurs. You can get great bottles of wine for under $20. It's overkill to spend a lot on wine, especially since you're shelling out for the food.

What wine goes best with turkey - red or white?

Turkey is like the blank slate of food; if you're serving turkey you can have both. People who eat the white meat of a turkey (breast) should drink white wine and people who prefer the dark (drumstick / thigh) can have red. You should always have both available anyway, because some people only drink red or white.

What about champagne: Is it an appropriate drink for Thanksgiving?

The answer is yes. I think a champagne toast at the start of a Thanksgiving dinner is hard to argue with. I feel more people should be drinking it with dinner. Champagne goes beautifully with most foods, including turkey.

Did the Pilgrims drink wine?

They probably didn't! They didn't even have a grape crop back then. Hard cider was the big drink of choice.


It's a holiday requirement that you're going to need wine for toasts. But having four good friends around the table may mean a different bottle than having 25 family members over for Thanksgiving dinner. Champagne is the classic choice, but it's hard to touch a good Champagne these days for under $30 or so. But there are good bubblies available at lower prices from other countries that are great for casual celebrating, such as Prosecco from Italy.

1. Collalbrigo Brut Prosecco for $15. Proseccos from Italy, made from the grape of the same name, are fruitier and simpler than Champagnes, but they're great fun for toasts (not to mention making Bellinis, Mimosas or general). The Collalbrigo has classic lemon-limey flavors, lively bubbles, and a clean finish.

2. Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs NV ($22)


This matters because, especially for Thanksgiving, you're not just eating turkey, but about 100 different side dishes as well. Essentially, turkey really doesn't have all that much taste in and of itself, but when you add in creamed onions, gravy, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green beans, brussels sprouts, etc., well, then you need a wine that can go with a huge range of flavors - which essentially means one that's not too extreme itself. For whites, un-oaked Chardonnay is a huge trend right now, because these wines are lighter and less chunky than big, oaky Chardonnays. And that makes them more food-friendly.

1. Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay (Australia) (about $12) Yalumba is a top producer in Australia, and makes a range of wines from $10 to $100. They've been making this un-oaked Chard for several vintages now - it's fruity and direct, but not overwhelming.

2. 2007 William Fevre Chablis Champs Royaux ($25) (France) Chablis is the classic un-oaked Chardonnay - they've always made their wines this way. And Fevre is one of the great Chablis producers. This wine is crisp, flinty and citrusy.


For the same reasons as the white, around holiday time you also need an all-purpose red, not just for Thanksgiving, but for cocktail parties, holiday dinners and so on. My advice is to sock away a case of something you like, since you usually get a discount at wine stores if you buy wine by the case (12 bottles). And Pinot is probably the most food-adaptable red wine of all time. It's medium-bodied, with lots of flavor - not too powerful, but not too light.

1. 2006 Firesteed (Oregon) (about $14) Oregon has become a go-to place for Pinot Noir, which likes cool nights and bright, sunny days, but not too much heat. Firesteed is a good buy for the $$, with lots of bright fruit and a crisp texture.

2. 2007 La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($24)
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