Wonderful Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner

November 9, 2012
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By Nicholas Harary

So, it’s true. I can’t stand zinfandel, the classic pairing with the Thanksgiving feast.

Funny how it took me so long to figure this one out. After working 25 years straight on the holiday, I had really never been able to check it out for myself. Then, Nicholas and Julianna came around. Melissa and I decided we needed to have Thanksgiving dinner with the kids – they needed the tradition (so what if it occurs on the Monday after Thanksgiving, the kids have no idea…).

For that first Thanksgiving as a family, what do you think we served with dinner? That’s right, red zin. Wow. Some marketing genius who had a lot of zin to sell must have started that rumor because, let me tell you, zinfandel is awful with Thanksgiving Dinner.

So what’s the right wine for this special meal?

Well, for me, Thanksgiving dinner, with all those rich flavors, needs wine that is fresh and vibrant. The spicy, rich fruit, and low acidity of zin just can’t cut through the complex flavors of turkey and all the trimmings. For me, aromatic, high-toned wines work best with Thanksgiving and for this month, I thought I’d offer what we’re planning to drink on Nov. 26. They will be conveniently packed in a handsome three-bottle gift box, with a sharp price to boot. All three wines will be available for $65 at www.restaurantnicholas.com.

Juliana Layla Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2011

The foggy mornings and chilly evenings of the Sonoma Coast makes for slow and even development of aromas and flavors in chardonnay grapes. Some of the greatest chardonnay in the world is grown here. That unique combination of aromatic complexity, lush fruit and stony minerality is what attracts the Kistlers and Peter Michaels to these high-elevation vineyards. Juliana Layla Chardonnay is a lively, cool-climate wine, loaded with crisp green apple and pear fruit, kissed with just a touch new wood. The rich fruit is balanced by a firm, mineral acidity that leaves a long finish. We love it with our Thanksgiving first course, Butternut Squash Soup.

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Chad Pinot Noir Carneros Reserve 2010

Carneros has long been one of the best American sources for world-class Pinot Noir. The fog and the constant cool wind from the San Francisco Bay keep the Carneros vineyards at the perfect temperature for top notch pinot. The latest rendition of Chad Pinot is loaded with that classic Carneros cherry fruit that finishes zippy and fresh, perfect to complement the entire turkey dinner.

Stolpman Vineyards Syrah Santa Ynez Valley 2010

Situated on the limestone hills of Ballard Canyon in Santa Ynex Valley lies the organic estate of the Stolpman Family. The limestone is an utter rarity in California and it is one of the secrets to their aromatically complex, dynamically vibrant wines. It blasts out of the glass aromatically, with pure black cherry and red fruit mingled with sweet herbs. In the mouth, the juicy fruit is layered and complex, followed by very fine tannin and a long, stony finish. With this wine, grab a turkey leg, a serviceable napkin and get to work.


Nicholas Harary is the owner and executive chef at Restaurant Nicholas in Middletown.


In 2011, Restaurant Nicholas launched its Nicholas Wines program. Each month, Harary selects one to two wines to sell in the online store (www.restaurantnicholas.com). Chef Harary’s long-lasting, personal relationships with winemakers and his commitment to storing wine at 56 degrees from Day One equates to unique access, value and quality for Nicholas Wines customers. Wines can be ordered by the bottle and/or case and shipped or picked up at the restaurant.

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