Countdown to Thanksgiving, Day 3: Choosing the Right Wine

You can serve anything from a Riesling to a Rose with the big bird, say area wine experts.

was The List; was Delegation Day. Here's Day 3 of the Turkey Day planning process:

If anyone knows about wine it’s Linda Jones of the Lansing-based Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. Come Turkey time, Jones starts contemplating her favorite pairings with a Thanksgiving feast.

Sip this with turkey

“For a Pure Michigan Thanksgiving dinner, I’d suggest with turkey a dry or semi-dry Riesling, perhaps by St. Julian, Chateau Grand Traverse, Black Star Farms, Bowers Harbor or other Michigan producers,” she said. 

Michigan wines are available at a variety of different stores in the area, including ,   and in Royal Oak. “Michigan wineries make a variety of Rieslings of varying sweetness levels," said Jones. "There's bone dry to super sweet — one to suit anyone’s sweetness preference."

Ed Hanna, beverage consultant at Busch’s markets (there’s one in Rochester Hills and West Bloomfield) concurs with Jones. “A nice medium Riesling is sweet and dry and can work well with turkey,” he noted.

Chef Lynn Milller of Bloomfield Hills also prefers sweet libations for turkey.

Miller, who runs a cooking school called Curious Cooks and is the author of Flavor Secrets: Back to the Basics, chooses a red Zinfandel to go with turkey. “It’s fruity and really complements the turkey beautifully,” she said. “Some of my favorites are Ridge and Denner vineyards.”

Scott Collins, a manager at Cloverleaf Fine Wine in Royal Oak, is quick to tell his customers that Pinot Noirs go well with turkey.

“There’s a Castle Rock Pinot Noir Cuvee for about $10 that’s great — you get a lot of bang for your buck,” Collins said.  Another in the economical department, said Collins, is a Parducci Pinot Noir blend for about $14. "It’s small-lot, food-friendly and people with a wide array of taste preferences seem to enjoy this.” 

As for white wines, Collins likes the finely crafted French Vouvray Chenin Blancs. “Chenin Blancs tend to be dry but without the heaviness that often comes with Chardonnays,” he explained.  “These won’t overpower your plate.”  

“And don’t forget the Roses from the south of France,” he added. “The roses are particularly dry, but they have character. Most people think of rose as a summertime drink, but it’s really great at Thanksgiving, too.”     

At our house, we’ll go for both the chenin blancs, maybe a rose and a Riesling (Grandpa likes sweet).

Sip this with dessert

Later in the day with dessert, Jones suggests a late harvest Riesling or Vidal  or an Ice Wine. “For these, consider Fenn Valley,  Chateau Grand Traverse, Black Star Farms, Leelanau Cellars, Sandhill Crane  or others.” (Read all about Michigan wines and where to find them at michiganwines.com.). 

“I also like a medium Pacific Rim Riesling for dessert,” added Hanna. He noted, too, that Cupcake Vineyards makes a terrific red wine called Red Velvet. “And for those watching their dollars, the Blackstone wines are great.”

Adds Chef Miller: Your dessert wine needs to be sweeter than the dessert or it will clash.”  

If you’re serving anything chocolate, consider a Cabernet Sauvignon, said the Clover Leaf’s Collins. “Or a California Shiraz would do well with chocolate, too.”

For those who don't do wine

Don't forget to grab a couple liters of pop and a gallon of milk, too, — there will most likely be a "cookies-and-milk" kind of guy at your table (it's Uncle Kenny, in our family), as well, kids are grateful that now and then the "pop ban" is lifted.

Day 4: gravy recipes.   

Places to shop for wine

Farmington and Farmington Hills:

West Bloomfield:



Connie November 14, 2011 at 01:52 PM
For my Thanksgiving, I will stick with the Michigan wines. Excellant flavors and good for the state!! Thanks for the information on where to buy them.
Nancy Kelsey November 14, 2011 at 06:08 PM
Connie: Do you have any specific wine suggestions? I'll be entertaining out-of-towners this year at my place, so I would love to get your thoughts on which Michigan wine to serve. Thanks!
Jen Nagle November 14, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Black Star Farms Late Harvest Riesling is an outstanding sweet wine. They also make a good semi- and dry Riesling, but I prefer sweet, Get Chateau Grand Traverse if your local store doesn't carry Black Star Farms.
Nancy Kelsey November 15, 2011 at 02:17 AM
Thanks for the tips, Jen!


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