There were 150 Pilgrims and Native Americans at the first Thanksgiving, a feast that lasted three days. They ate wild turkeys, partridges and other birds; five deer the Native people brought; corn, cranberries and pumpkins. What they lacked that first year was beer, the “water” of their time. But making beer came easily to the settlers since it was the drink of their home country; and once settled in their new land, they enjoyed it during following feasts.
Today with Thanksgiving dinner, the most celebrated American meal, many people still serve American beer. And, just as likely, America’s wines. From sparkling through white, red and dessert, there is an American-born wine for every part of the feast.
An aperitif calls for a sparkling wine such as those of Chateau Frank of New York’s Finger Lakes region, producer of Brut ($25), Blanc de Blancs ($30) and Blanc de Noirs ($30), exquisitely made from classic grapes in the traditional Champagne method.
Domaine Chandon, the first Champagne house to establish a Napa Valley residence, brings its centuries-old knowledge to its Brut Classic ($25), Blanc de Noirs ($25) and Chandon Rosé ($27), plus a reserve line of sparklers ($38).
For white wine lovers, the dry, distinctive Hermann J. Wiemer Riesling, from New York State’s Finger Lakes region, provides an outstanding example of the grape ($20 and up).
J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines of California produces a number of flavorful Chardonnays. Look especially for the Vineyard Series-Highland Bench, Arroyo Vista and October Night (about $28).
Lieb Cellars on New York’s Long Island is the rare winery whose main wine is Pinot Blanc — elegant, crisp and fruit-rich ($35).
The Eyrie Vineyards was the first Oregon winery to produce a Pinot Noir, and it is still one of the best, capturing that elusive grape’s subtle flavors. Prices begin about $30.
Wölffer Estate Vineyards, on New York’s Long Island, is one of the region’s most successful Merlot producers ($25). Its Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon ($25–40) are equally enticing choices for Thanksgiving dinner.
For a large group, choose Dreaming Tree Crush, a California North Coast blend that is all fresh berries and gratifying taste and only $15.
And for a dessert wine to pair with pumpkin pie, try New York State’s Wagner Riesling Ice Wine, $28 for a .375 ml bottle.
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