The Best Wine For Thanksgiving: Chardonnay

Wine Pairings

We help you pick wine to drink with the food you eat.


Chardonnay on the vine. [Photograph: naotakem on Flickr]

Chardonnay sometimes gets a bad rap, but it's a lovely choice for the Thanksgiving table—as long as you choose the right one. A mouthful of oak is not the perfect accompaniment to dark meat or light meat. But the bottles I have for you today are light on their feet, and will be pleasing both to Chard-lovers and those who swear they drink ABC (Anything But Chardonnay.)

20101110fritzchard.jpgI first tasted Fritz Russian River Valley Chardonnay over the summer, and it was beautiful then with a plate of seared scallops. But it's also an ideal fall wine, with a perfect balance of fresh, tart acidity and rich mouthfeel. This wine reminds me of ginger-spiced applesauce or poached pears, with hints of hazelnut, fresh thyme, honey, and lavender. The oak lends a bit of warm, sweet spice, but it's nicely done, not over the top. This elegant wine is right at home with creamy casseroles, potato gratin, or any soups you might serve to start off your Thanksgiving meal. (Around $20, find this wine.)

If you prefer your white wines steely and fresh, with a vibrant burst of lemon, you should head for Chablis. Clotilde Davenne has been the winemaker at a big Chablis house for 17 years, but now has her own vineyard and produces wonderful wines. Her Bourgogne Blanc Chardonnay (2008) sees no oak. It's bright and refreshing, pure in flavor and rich in minerality. I'm reminded of fragrant peaches, ginger, and oyster shells, all with a squeeze of puckery citrus that cuts through rich foods. (The folks over at the New York Times picked it for Thanksgiving, too!) Be sure not to serve this wine too cold; it's best at cellar temperature between 45 and 50 degrees F. (Around $17, find this wine.)

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