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Ask a Sommelier: Wine Gifts for Your Thanksgiving Host

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Steven Grubbs of Empire State South in Atlanta [Photo: Andrew Thomas Lee]

You really shouldn't go to Thanksgiving empty handed. And even if you volunteered to make the pull-apart rolls or the pecan pie, it's extra-nice to arrive with a bottle in hand as well. We asked sommeliers from around the country for their wine gift-giving advice: what should you bring if you're a guest on Thanksgiving?

Here's what they had to say.

"A bottle of good rosé Champagne. Especially if your relatives don't drink. Because then you get to down the whole thing, and yell at the football games on TV."—Steven Grubbs (Empire State South)

"I would bring a wine that has a story, but isn't too expensive. With an event like Thanksgiving, it isn't just about the food and wine; the day is so much about being with friends and family and being around a table talking and laughing. A wine from a vineyard you've visited, or a winemaker whose philosophy inspired you would be a good example. Expensive or old wine may be impressive, but it often gets lost with all the flavors of the food and different wines present. The subtlety and nuance of, say, an old Burgundy or Nebbiolo could go unappreciated amidst the cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and green bean casserole."—Stacey Gibson (Olympic Provisions)

"Pinot Noir is a good go-to pick as a dinner-gift wine. It is one of the most versatile wines. It won't overwhelm lighter dishes and it will still stand up to heavier dishes. I like to think that Pinot Noir is like that little black dress.... It goes with everything!"—Emily Wines MS (Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants)

"Digestive! Forget about the still wines or sparkling, because there will also someone who will cover that area. But for after dinner beverage consumption after the first round of eating, bring a bottle of digestive liqueur or spirits. Everyone can use a sip to assist with the second round or food or the next Thanksgiving dinner. They are not always medicinal tasting. Personally, I would suggest bringing a bottle of Jean Bourdy "Galant des Abbesses" from Jura in France."—Arthur Hon (Sepia)

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Caroline Styne of Lucques in Los Angeles [Photo: Jen Britton]

"I always think that a bottle of Champagne makes the perfect host/hostess gift. If you're attending as a guest, the wines for the evening have most likely been selected and opened, so the wine that you bring as a gift will probably not be consumed that same evening. Champagne, on the other hand, just says "drink me now" all over it."—Caroline Styne (Lucques)

"Any Alsatian white. The pairing compatibility is unparalleled."—Kelli White (Press)

"As a Thanksgiving guest, grab something that's going to play well with others, since you're going to be sharing and eating a bunch of different types of food. Avoid really light bodied wines, especially those low in acid. Avoid really full bodied wines, especially those with a bunch of oak. If you want to get spendy, Champagne, Chablis, classically-styled Brunello, Chateauneuf, or Rioja would all be awesome too. And remember, magums show you care!"—Morgan Harris (Corkbuzz)

"Sparkling wine, always. I dare you to have a lame party once the cork has been popped on a bottle of Champagne. There are a lot more sparkling wines from outside Champagne on the market now, too, and they're really spectacular. Pétillant Naturel (aka Pet-Nat) from all over France and Italy is starting to make its presence known in the US, Lambrusco is making a serious comeback, and there are some killer sparkling Rieslings out there."—Lauren Friel (Oleana)

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Thomas Pastuszak of NoMad in NYC [Photo: Nathan Rawlinson]

"Treat your hosts to a special bottle of something you know they love to drink on special occasions when they're alone (whether it's vintage Champagne, great Bordeaux, or otherwise) and insist they hold onto it for their next anniversary or birthday. They'll love you for bringing something that is just for them, and when they do enjoy it later on, they'll remember that great Thanksgiving you all enjoyed together."—Thomas Pastuszak (The NoMad)

"A great bottle of bubbles is always a good idea. My go to bubbles for Thanksgiving is sparkling Chenin Blanc from Vouvray. Much less expensive then Champagne and a great pairing with the bounty of fall foods that will be on the table. Try Breton's Vouvray Dilettante Brut for $24 retail and you can't go wrong."—Eric Railsback (Les Marchands)

"I would bring 2 magnums—because I know there will be some drinkers—some Pet'Nat if I can find some with a hint of sugar, a perfect starter for the night, light, giggly and refreshing, and a magnum of Chenin from Mosse, because i know everybody else will bring red wine."—Pascaline Lepeltier (Rouge Tomate)

"Being French myself, if I'm invited to Thanksgiving I like to bring French wine because it's a nice way to connect two cultures. Sharing is what Thanksgiving is all about, and I can't think of anything better to share with friends and family than a superb bottle of wine!"—Edouard Bourgeois (Café Boulud)

More Thanksgiving Drinking Tips

The Best Beers for Thanksgiving
The Best Ciders for Thanksgiving
Great Red Wines for Thanksgiving
Our Favorite White Wines for Thanksgiving
Sparkling Wine Picks
Cocktail Planning for Thanksgiving

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