The Best Wines for Thanksgiving 2018 - Interesting New Wave Alternatives

A guide to the new wave of wines that will make Thanksgiving even more awesome

You could do straight forward pinot noir and chardonnay for Thanksgiving. OR! You could do something different, rad, and awesome. Try a wine from off the beaten path that will blow make this a turkey day to remember. We found some awesome wines from the United States (because dammit this is America and this is Thanksgiving) that will make your whole day awesome.

California Carignan

Super old vines make this carignan from Broc Cellars an absolute delight. One of our favorite wines of the year, every year!

Super old vines make this carignan from Broc Cellars an absolute delight. One of our favorite wines of the year, every year!

Carignan is on the verge of something huge, and in a few years this could be the only wine you think of for Thanksgiving. California’s old vine carignans have been pumping out some delicious wines in the hands of Broc Cellars, Las Jaras, Vinca Minor and even Ridge. There are also smaller wineries like the outstanding Martha Stoumen and Keep who have knocked our socks off with their carefully crafted wines. This is the wine that will define a new generation of California winemakers. Medium bodied, silky and dusty tannins, bright acidity, and dark fruits make carignan a perfect wine for any time, oh and especially for Thanksgiving!

For lovers of: Rhone reds, medium bodied reds like cabernet franc or merlot, zinfandel, and full Napa cab lovers who can finally admit that Napa Nook is overdoing it on Thanksgiving.

California Chenin Blanc

I like to think of chenin blanc, especially California chenin, as being a wine that can go with the flow and adapt to any situation. Chenin blanc can be lapped up alongside fish tacos or bring excitement to an elegant dinner so I like to think it makes a great alternative white wine for turkey dinners. The floral aromas of honeysuckle mixed with citrus fresh acidity make it a refreshing wine that will wash down the heartiest of mains and sides. For our money, Forlorn Hope makes the best damn California chenin you can get!

For the people who love, but want to explore more: Sauvignon blanc, crisp chardonnays like Chablis, gruner veltliner

Oregon Gamay

We all know Oregon is home to some fantastic, delicious, beautiful, elegant, and downright awesome pinot noir, but its also finding a new superstar in gamay. There is not too much of it, but some of the more natural or minimalist oriented winemakers in the state are making wines that are better than Cru Beaujolais. Yes, we said Cru Beaujolais. Super juicy, refreshing, and tasty, wines like the Omero Gamay Noir are tres glou glou and will go down a real treat all day long on turkey day.

For those who just adore: Beaujolais!


Counoise never gets much attention. Only the super nerdy know that counoise is one of a few varietals accepted in Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. Virtually nobody makes single varietal counoise, but when I stumbled upon it last yearI was hooked. These wines are super light, very fresh, and yet they have some awesome spice and pepper notes that make them perfect for that sweet turkey meat. There is not much counoise out there, and honestly we think Broc Cellars does an amazing job of it.

For fans of: Pinot noir lovers will get a real kick out of these super light red wines, so will anybody who was craving a Rhone red, or GSM but wanted something lighter.

Rieslings from New York and Oregon

We mentioned Rieslings as a classic American go-to for Thanksgiving, but with so many weird, wild, and wonderful variations out there we had to include it here too. We have been huge fans of some skin contact rieslings from Liten Buffel that add a little more character to these lean wines. We were also super lucky to get our hands on some “Candied Mushroom” from the Teutonic Wine Company, a riesling that was a little sweet, a little savory, and super funky in the most awesome way ever. Fingers crossed this happy accident becomes a mainstay.

For geeky winos who enjoy: All sorts of rieslings, gewürtztraminer, and off-dry white wines. Even viognier and chardonnay fans will get a kick.

American Pet Nats

While this style might have its root in the Loire, American wineries have been making this their own with some wild interpretations of a very cool sparkling wine. These wines are more frizzante rather than your super bubbly champagne and prosecco, but they are also a lot more tart and funky thanks to the natural fermentation that gives them their bubbles. American winemakers are taking this ancient method of making wine and applying it to all sorts of grapes from Fausse Piste working with muscat, or Brianne Day following up her awesome Mamacita with the red Papacito from 100% primitivo. We’ve also been on the hunt for Pet-Nats made from vitis labrusca (a grape species native to the US) and even cider makers have gotten in on the ancestrale craze. Fucking love it!

For those looking for something more interesting than: Prosecco, cremant, and other sparkling wines that are less expensive than Champagne.

So take a stab at something new and jazz up your Thanksgiving with some wines from off the beaten path.