When looking for effortless food-friendly wines, turn to the infinite variety of Italy.
Italy is not only the world’s largest wine producer, it’s also the king of food-friendly wines, making its bottlings a natural choice to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. From luminous sparklers and racy reds to velvety vino da meditazione (“meditation wines”), Italy has your Turkey Day covered.
Pour a bright, foamy Prosecco Superiore to get the holiday cheer off to a shimmering start. Prosecco’s green apple and pear sensations combine with crisp acidity to make it the quintessential before-dinner drink. It even works well with light appetizers. An elegantly sparkling, savory wine from Trentodoc also makes a wonderful Thanksgiving aperitivo, and many are structured and dry enough to be paired with the entire meal. Franciacorta’s new wave of bone-dry sparklers—made with no added dosage—can be enjoyed throughout the dinner, thanks to their precise fruit, racy acidity and mineral notes.
- Nino Franco NV Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Rustico ($18)
- Bianca Vigna 2014 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Rive di Soligo ($15)
- Ferrari Trento DOC 2008 Perlè Nero ($78)
- Barone Pizzini 2011 Franciacorta Naturae ($45)
Vibrant, delicious reds that scream out for food are a hallmark of Italian wines, especially those made with native grapes. A number will pair beautifully with a traditional turkey dinner, thanks to their food-friendly acidity. Barbera d’Asti from Piedmont sports juicy black cherry and ground pepper flavors, racy acidity and silky tannins, making it a classic companion to Thanksgiving fare. For Nebbiolo lovers, look to Gattinara from northern Piedmont. Made with the same grape as Barolo and Barbaresco, Gattinara is more elegantly structured than its famous neighbors. It boasts fresher acidity and energizing mineral notes that are a result of its soil and a cooler climate. Sangiovese from Tuscany is celebrated as one of Italy’s most food-friendly wines, like Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The best boast juicy wild cherry and light spice flavors, balanced by zesty acidity and firm but refined tannins.
- Braida di Giacomo Bologna 2013 Bricco dell’Uccellone Barbera d’Asti ($65)
- Travaglini 2009 Gattinara Tre Vigne ($42)
- San Felice 2011 Chianti Classico Il Grigio Gran Selezione ($44)
- Contucci 2010 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano ($29)
Italy also makes structured, full-flavored whites that match well with turkey and all the fixings. Pinot Grigio from northern Italy’s Alto Adige has white floral aromas, crisp green apple, pear and steely mineral flavors that are brightened by refreshing acidity. In the Veneto region, Soave Classico—from Soave’s original growing area—possesses complex aromas, creamy fruit, bright acidity and intense mineral notes. Boasting aromas and flavors of yellow wild flower, beeswax, peach and apricot, full-bodied Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico from central Italy’s Marche region gains even more complexity with modest aging. Rich but refreshing Fiano from Campania in southern Italy offers a mesmerizing depth of flavors, including candied citrus zest and yellow peach energized by flinty minerality.
- Elena Walch 2013 Pinot Grigio Castel Ringberg ($25)
- Gini 2013 Soave Classico La Froscà ($29)
- Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Villa Bucci Riserva ($55)
- Feudi di San Gregorio 2013 Fiano di Avellino Pietracalda 2013 ($31)
Dessert and Meditation wines
It can’t be Thanksgiving without a slice of apple pie, and a silky, refreshing Moscato Rosa, with its red berry, candied orange zest and sweet cake flavors, will bring out the pie’s baked apple and cinnamon sensations. If you’re going for pumpkin pie, try a rich, nutty Vin Santo, which pairs well with the pie’s spicy notes, while the wine’s acidity balances out its richness. Even though it’s notoriously difficult to pair chocolate desserts with any wine, a spicy, herb-infused Barolo Chinato makes chocolate taste even better. Skipping dessert to finish with an array of seasoned cheeses instead? Pour a concentrated, velvety Amarone that boasts baked plum, black-skinned berry, cocoa and baking-spice sensations. I also love to sip Amarone on its own after a meal as a meditation wine, the perfect way to end a hearty Thanksgiving meal.
- Abbazia di Novacella 2012 Praepositus Moscato Rosa ($30)
- Volpaia 2008 Vin Santo del Chianti Classico ($49)
- Cappellano NV Barolo Chinato ($60)
- Venturini Massimo 2010 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ($52)