Great Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner

I know a lot of people like to do the same thing for Thanksgiving every year but I prefer to mix it up a little. When I lived in Paris, a lot of my expatriot American friends did a Friendsgiving (there's actually a store in the Marais called Thanksgiving since turkey and cranberry sauce et. al. isn't really a thing there). In New York, I like to go to Gallagher's steakhouse. I don't eat steak but I love the Mad Men vibe -- and especially the name. I always love to visit my sister in Massachusetts, but especially for Thanksgiving because a. she's a fabulous cook and host and b. being in New England makes Thanksgiving feel extra Thanksgivingy. A few times, she's invited me to her brother-in-law's 300 year-old home in Eastham, MA, which is on the Cape and not far from Plymouth Plantation. Can't get much more Thanksgivingy than that.

The last few years, we've had a pretty traditional Midwest Thanksgiving at Brian's parents house. This year, I'm bringing this legendary Olive-Cherry Bruschetta, which is one of my most requested holiday appetizers and this Butternut Squash and Leek Bread Pudding that I saw on Food52 because my mother-in-law loves bread pudding.

And I'm bringing the wine. Since Thanksgiving dinner is always more of a marathon than a sprint, it can be a bit difficult choosing a wine that goes with every course. Fortunately, Omaha has some fabulous wine experts who are willing to help out. I asked Adam Weber, certified Italian Wine Professional (IWP) and sommelier at Dante, from whom you can buy any bottle that they serve in the restaurant, Laurie Hellbusch Wolford, owner of Spirit World, and Corey Keith, an owner of Corkscrew Wine and Cheese in Rockbrook Village and the Blackstone District, what they're recommending to customers for the big day.

Adam Weber, Dante

2013 Raineri, Dolcetto di Dogliani, Cornole, $24 retail

Dolcetto is Piedmont’s everyday drinker.  The literal translation is “little sweet one," but, despite the name, this wine is known for being on the dry side with more tannin and less acid. Expect delightfully fruity, licorice, and bitter sensations. This is a single-vineyard dolcetto, produced organically in the Dogliani D.O.C.G -- which is the only place that yields this wonderful grape.  

2013 Cascinadelaide, Barbera D’Alba Vigna Preda, Superiore, $34 retail

Barbera is Northern Italy’s wine of the people and is never too far from a Piedmontese dining table. This wine can be a bit of a conundrum. Due to its pigmentation, it can taste both rich and light-bodied, offering the berry and cherry notes in bigger wines, but goes down like a treat, thanks to lively acidity, which is perfect for the rich flavors of fall. Oak-heavy styles have an extra touch of chocolate, vanilla and spice. Superiore denotes higher alcohol content. This single vineyard offering comes from the Preda Vineyard, located in the heart of the town of Barolo.  

2012 Jorche Primitivo Di Manduria, $36 retail 

This wine can be described as fall in a glass. It's a richer style of Primitivo, with jam, smoke, notes of cinnamon, raisin, chocolate, and tobacco. It has a high ABV (alcohol by volume) of 15 percent. For a lower ABV, there are lighter Primitivos with rose petal, sage, and black pepper flavors. 

All of the above wines are available at Dante Pizzeria Napoletana in the Shops of Legacy (168th and Center).

Laurie Hellbusch Wolford, Spirit World

 "Each of these will compliment and stand up to everything from fresh crudité to rich, buttery dishes," Laurie says. "Even better, put one of each on the table to please every palate!"

"Each of these will compliment and stand up to everything from fresh crudité to rich, buttery dishes," Laurie says. "Even better, put one of each on the table to please every palate!"

Beaujolais Nouveau, $15

Beaujolais Nouveau is a traditional, light French red wine made from the Gamay grape, handpicked in the Beaujolais province of France. This fresh and fruity red is the result of a quick fermentation process that ends up with a tasty, clean wine that is enjoyed by palates the world over. The fun of this wine is the tradition that it is released world-wide on the third Thursday of November every year as a celebration of the end of harvest.

Acacia Carneros Chardonnay, $22

This unoaked style of Chardonnay’s gorgeous aromatics lead with stone fruit flavors, crisp melon and floral notes. Acidity on the palate balances nicely with the summer fruit flavors as the finish ends clean and refreshing. This wine pairs nicely with many foods ranging the spectrum from creamy to spicy. The nice clean flavors and acidity make this wine perfect for pairing with Thanksgiving fare.

Cuvaison Pinot Noir, $40

Cuvaison Estate Pinot Noir offers up an intriguing blend of black plum, wild strawberry, cherry and raspberry fruit against a backdrop of cola, licorice and hint of sassafras. An inviting medley of floral notes, black and red fruits and a lingering spice, this wine captures the essence of Carneros. It pairs beautifully with the flavors and spices of traditional holiday meals.

All of the above wines are available at Spirit World in Aksarben Village.

Corey Keith, Corkscrew Wine and Cheese

 "It comes down to your likes and dislikes and the subtleties of your meal," says Corey. "Although we are thinking about the bird on the table, the wine really has to work with the range of side dishes."

"It comes down to your likes and dislikes and the subtleties of your meal," says Corey. "Although we are thinking about the bird on the table, the wine really has to work with the range of side dishes."

2015 Montinore Borealis, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $16

With white wines we generally avoid oaky Chardonnay and recommend wines with a bit more fruit and acidity. This blend is our choice for its fruit and spice components.

2014 Carol Shelton Pizazz Zinfandel, Lodi, California $21

We are fans of this Zinfandel for the diversely-flavored meal. It is also uniquely American, like the holiday. Lots of fruit in Zin to play well with just about everything from cranberry sauce to dark turkey meat to sausage stuffing.

2015 Witness Tree Chainsaw Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon $23

Pinot Noir is the classic food varietal and this one is a reliable choice for the Thanksgiving meal.

All of the above wines are available at both Corkscrew locations in Rockbrook and Blackstone.