Selecting wines to pair with your Thanksgiving meal shouldn’t add to any holiday stress. And yes, we meant to say wines, plural. So if you’re worried about what wine to drink with your Thanksgiving meal, or before (no judging here), breathe a sigh of relief, we have you covered. Our Thanksgiving Wine Guide provides tips on wine styles that will enhance all of the incredible food that somehow fits on one plate. If you use these tips when you speak with your local wine monger, then we’re confident that you will bring home some delicious juice to accompany your fantastic meal!

However, before we break down our recommendations, let’s make one thing clear: we’ve all been through a lot this year so if there was ever a time to drink what you want, THIS IS IT! Forget about what pairs well, and think about what’s going to make you happy. Now go buy a case of that wine!

Teakwood Tavern Hospitality's Thanksgiving Wine Guide

Everyone’s Thanksgiving meal is different; however, there is one thing that many meals have in common—various foods gathered together on a single plate. Each bite bringing a different flavor profile to match with your wine selection. Thus, there’s no perfect Thanksgiving wine. But there are wines that play more friendly than others with a wide range of foods.

If you'd rather watch a video of our Thanksgiving Wine Guide, here's a YouTube video for your viewing pleasure:

Dry sparkling wines

Dry sparkling wines pair well with a wide variety of foods so it should be no surprise that these wines can hold their own at a Thanksgiving table. Quality sparkling wines have high acidity, which cuts through rich, fatty foods and balances tart items like homemade cranberry sauce. The effervescence cleanses your palate as you jump between bites of different foods. While a blanc (white) version will do the trick, especially a blanc de noir, we’d recommend finding a dry sparkling rosé. The sparkling rosé should showcase some red fruits, which add a nice touch to everything mentioned above.

Dry Lambrusco is another fun sparkling option. Because of its slight effervescence and intense cherry and strawberry flavors, it is an ideal red wine for a Thanksgiving feast. Yes, you read that correctly, a RED sparkling wine. Lambrusco is made in sweet styles so be sure to check the bottle to verify you are grabbing a dry version. If the bottle doesn't clearly state dry, then look to the alcohol. If the ABV is 11.5% or higher, then you will likely be in the dry category.

One last note on sparkling: there are plenty of incredible sparkling wines from places other than Champagne. Spend your money wisely and purchase two bottles of sparkling for the price of one Champagne. You deserve it!

Still white wine

For still white wines, we recommend dry wines with racing acidity. Dry Riesling, dry Chenin Blanc, and Grüner Veltliners are super food friendly wines. We specify “dry” for the Riesling and Chenin Blanc because both wines are produced in both dry, off-dry, and sweet styles. You can find delicious dry Riesling from Willamette, Oregon; Finger Lakes, NY; and Alsace, France. For dry Chenin Blanc, seek out Savennières from Loire Valley, France. For Grüner Veltliner, look to Wachau, Austria.

Light to medium-bodied red wines

Switching to red still wines, we recommend seeking out light to medium-bodied red wines that have good acidity, low to medium tannin, and less than 14% ABV. Again, acidity is your friend when pairing wine with so many different foods, and that is true for red wines as well as the sparkling and whites mentioned earlier. Also, with the low to medium tannins and less than 14% ABV, these wines won’t overpower the food. Rather, they will blend seamlessly with each bite, no matter whether it’s turkey with gravy or green bean casserole. Here, we’d recommend Pinot Noir from Willamette, Oregon; Cabernet Franc from Chinon, France or Finger Lakes, NY; Cru Beaujolais from Beaujolais, France; Mencia from Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra, Spain; Barbera from Alba and Asti, Italy; and wines produced from Sangiovese like Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico. All of these wines showcase red fruit, which works well with many of the traditional Thanksgiving flavors.

Fuller red wines

If you’re a fan of bigger wine, well, we’re impressed you kept reading. We’ll reward your patience with a few recommendations. First, a California Zinfandel will serve you well. It’s robust fruit and baking spice notes are a perfect match for a Thanksgiving feast. A GSM blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) from either Southern Rhone or Central Coast California works well with gravy and herb stuffing. The Syrah and Mourvèdre bring the power and structure that fans of big wines will appreciate, and the Grenache rounds everything out with flavors of cherry, strawberries, and raspberries. Lastly, if Cabernet Sauvignon is your jam, then here’s a hint: grab a bottle with some age on it. In fact, that goes for both the Zinfandel and GSM blend recommendations. Tannins soften with age so these wines become more approachable for pairing food after a few years of aging.

Last Call

We hope you find the wine guide informative and helpful. We are thankful for your support!

We wish all of you the very best Thanksgiving.

Sending multifaceted love,

Shenandoah and John

















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  • The Reynas

You’ve made it to late November. Congratulations! This has been a year like no other. And while we are excited to put on our elastic waist pants and sit down to a Thanksgiving feast, we’re equally, if not more, excited to enjoy some Thanksgiving themed cocktails. It’s been that kind of year . . .

Here at Teakwood Tavern Hospitality, we love fall flavors and we don’t limit their use to cooking. We created two Thanksgiving themed cocktails that embrace classic fall flavors like sage, brown butter, walnuts, apple, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon. The recipes for the Turkey Trot and the Apple Pie Punch are below. You can also checkout our YouTube channel, Teakwood Tavern, for informative videos and cocktail demonstrations of both cocktails.

Turkey Trot

Why labor in the kitchen all-day long when you can bring your favorite Thanksgiving flavors to the table in this cocktail? The Turkey Trot is a play on the modern classic cocktail—Gold Rush, which itself is a play on the classic whiskey sour. The whiskey sour template is incredibly simple, which is why everyone should know it: 2 ounces bourbon (or rye), 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice, and 3/4 ounce simple syrup. We prefer our whiskey sour with an egg white to add a silky texture, but versions without egg white are acceptable. In 2001, at New York City’s Milk & Honey, T.J. Siegel used honey syrup in lieu of simple syrup and the Gold Rush was born. We’re taking the Gold Rush a few steps further and using brown butter bourbon and sage honey syrup to create the Turkey Trot. This year, you might not be able to blame tryptophan for falling asleep on the couch!

Turkey Trot

2 ounces brown butter bourbon (recipe below)

3/4 ounce sage honey syrup (recipe below)

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

3 dashes Fee Brothers black walnut bitters

1 egg white (optional)

1 sage leaf for garnish

Combine all ingredients, except for the egg white, into a shaker—then add the egg white.

Perform a dry shake: close the shaker without ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.

[Hold the shaker tightly, there will be a lot of pressure inside.] After the dry shake, open the shaker, add ice, and give 12 shakes. Strain the drink through a fine mesh-strainer into a chilled coupe glass. [If you choose not to use the egg white, then combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, give 12 shakes, and strain into a chilled coupe.] Garnish: smack the fresh sage leaf between your hands to release the aromatic oils and place on top of cocktail.

For the brown butter bourbon

8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cubed

2 cups bourbon

Heat butter in a medium heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Cook butter, whisking constantly, until it turns dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm. Pour the bourbon into a jar and add the brown butter. Whisk butter and bourbon to mix. Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature until the fat rises to the top, about 5-7 minutes. Whisk again. Repeat this wait-whisk process two more times. Cover the jar and place in the freezer for 12 hours. Line a mesh-strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and set over a clean jar. Strain the bourbon into the jar. Refrigerate the bourbon until ready to use. Save the butter solids for another use.

Sage honey syrup (makes approx. 6 ounces)

10 grams (about 0.35 ounces) of fresh sage leaves

100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of water

100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of honey

For this recipe, we recommend using a scale to measure by weight, which is more accurate

than using measuring cups. Honey, alone, doesn’t incorporate well into drinks because of its thickness. Honey syrup does the trick! Boil the water. Once boiling, remove from heat, add sage, stir, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes. Weigh 64 grams of sage-flavored water and pour into a clean container. [There will be some excess sage-flavored water remaining. This was to permit some evaporation during boiling. Dispose of the excess water or up your honey following the same ratio.] Add honey to the container with sage-flavored water. Close and shake. Refrigerate the syrup until ready to use.

Checkout our video for demonstrations of this recipe and its delicious ingredients:

Apple Pie Punch

We know pumpkin spice is all the rage right now, but we love apple spice. How dare we, right? Deliciously spiced apples come in many forms. They are both comforting like a good pie and warming to the soul as a hot cider.

Apple Pie Punch is a play on the classic, Planter’s Punch. It's referenced as far back at 1694 and often used rum and lime. Planter's refers to plantation owners around the Caribbean. Everyone seemed to have their own recipe, but they followed the catchy rhyme: one of sour, two of sweet, three for strong, four of weak, and a touch of spice to make it all nice. We used this template respectively, with lemon, demerara syrup, apple brandy, ice, and angostura bitters + allspice dram, which both have a Caribbean heritage. This made it all very nice indeed.

Coming into the holidays, and let’s be honest, year-round, we adore brandy. You can make brandy out of many fruits, but if you’ve never tried apple, boy, are you in for a treat. Many distilleries in the US create this delight, including the oldest family run distillery in America, Laird & Company. Look for their flagship apple brandy, Applejack. You might also find Calvados, which is a region of France that exports wonderful apple brandy.

Allspice dram is liquor flavored with allspice berries. However, it brings in many wonderful baking spices like clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg along with the allspice. Dram is an old-school word for liquor. St.Elizabeth makes a wonderful product.

Demerara is unrefined, high quality brown sugar, which comes in large crystals with naturally forming molasses. The demerara sugar rounds out the apple and spice for the ultimate holiday trifecta. Brown sugar can be used if you cannot find demerara.

And there you have it friends, a holiday punch that can also be your dessert!

Apple Pie Punch

3 ounces Apple Brandy (We recommend Laird’s Applejack)

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4 ounce Demerara syrup (recipe below)

1/4 ounce Allspice Dram (We recommend St.Elizabeth)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin with ice. Shake 12 times and strain into Collins glass filled with 1/3 crushed ice. Then fill with crushed ice. Garnish with apple slice and cinnamon stick.

Demerara syrup (makes approx. 6 ounces)

100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of water

100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of demerara sugar

For this recipe, we recommend using a scale to measure by weight, which is more accurate

than using measuring cups. Combine equal parts sugar and water with an immersion blender. Cover and refrigerate the syrup until ready to use. [If you can’t find demerara sugar,

substitute brown sugar.]

Here's an informative video walking you through background and making an Apple Pie Punch and demerara syrup:

Last Call

We hope you find the cocktail recipes informative and helpful. We wish all of you the very best Thanksgiving.

Sending spiced love,

Shenandoah and John



















Updated: Nov 21, 2020

Like out of a Sci-fi story, Carménère came back to life. The recently recognized Carménère turned 21 last year. Happy belated 21st birthday, you delicious red wine variety you.

If you prefer to watch an educational video about Carménère, check out our YouTube channel:

The extinction of Carménère

Carménère, like its fellow South American gems Malbec and Tannat, came from France. It is one of the original Bordeaux varietals. In the appellations of Graves and Pessac-Leognan, which are both located in Bordeaux, it was a popular blending grape.

Once Phylloxera destroyed Bordeaux in 1869, vineyards didn’t make much of an effort to replant Carménère. The French vineyard owners had their reasons. First, Carménère is not an easy grape to grow. Other grapes like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are much less work. Second, other Bordeaux varieties carried a higher price tag. And third, it didn't graft to American stock well, which is the solution to making vines phylloxera-proof. By the mid 1900s, the world considered Carménère extinct … until 1994.

But more about that later.

Family tree

Carménère is a half sibling of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. They all share the same amazing parent, Cabernet Franc, also a Bordeaux varietal. But Carménère is more dope than those two since it’s great-great-grandparent on the other side is also Cabernet Franc. That explains why Carménère and Cabernet France have many similarities.

Chile brings Carménère back from the dead

The Spanish planted the fist vineyards in Chile the 16th century. At that time, Pais was the grape of choice.

After Chile gained its independence in 1810, the country grew an affinity for all things French, especially wine. Mining brought money into Chile and with that brought a taste for fine wine. By the mid 1800s, there was lavish estates around Santiago growing enough wine to warrant the nickname, the Bordeaux of South America.

In the mid 1800s, South American immigrants brought what they thought was Merlot across the ocean to be planted in Chile. Over time, they realized some of their Merlot vines ripened quicker than others. And those early ripening vines sprouted leaves that changed colors, which is not normal for Merlot.

In 1994, French ampelographer (botanist focused on grapes), Jean-Michel Boursiquot, took notice of these differences in the purported Merlot vines. He determined half of Chilean Merlot vines were actually the long lost French Carménère.

In 1998, the Chilean government finally recognized Carménère as a unique variety, which allowed the grape to appear on wine labels again. Now, Carménère is one of the most important grapes grown in Chile.

Tasting profile

Chilean Carménère is one of the easier red varietals to identify. There are distinct red fruit and pepper characteristics. Common flavors you will find include raspberry, plum, bitter chocolate, and all types of pepper. It contains a high amount of pyrazines, which are aromatic compounds that cause herbaceous notes like green bell pepper, black pepper, and eucalyptus.

Generally, Carménère is made in a singular style. That's not a negative take on Carménère. Rather, having a singular style helps the consumer confidently grab a bottle at his/her price point. This singular style showcases body and tannin at the medium to medium-high levels. Acidity is usually medium-high and alcohol runs high (14-15% ABV). Despite having a singular style, quality varies depending on price point. While you can find well made versions under $20, there are plenty high quality Carménères under $50 retail.


Chilean law permits Carménère to include up to 15% of other grapes blended and still be labeled Carménère. And most producers usually blend within that range. Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Verdot are often used to add more depth and soften the herbaceous notes. You can tell another grape has been blended in because it adds black fruit that Carménère would not otherwise have.

Some Carménère aficionados believe that blended Carménère are better than single varietal versions. But don't let that sway you away from single varietal versions. In our taste testing, John preferred the 100% Carménère. I didn't. What does he know, right?

Food pairing

Carménère is extremely food friendly with its medium-plus acid and herbaceous flavors. The acid allows for both high acid and rich creamy sauces. Carménère goes great with anything from chimichurri to cheese. The pepper flavor enhances all types of meat, especially lamb, as well as complementing herbs and vegetables.


Carménère ripens very slowly and requires a long summer to mature to its full potential. It produces small bunches of very dark grapes. Its leaves turn red and orange as fall hits. How beautiful is this:

© Banfi Wines

Reading the label

Chile uses the D.O. (Denomination of Origin) classification system to define its many regions, sub-regions, zones, and areas. When wine labels include a D.O. and a varietal, the wine must contain at least 85% of that particular grape.

In addition to the D.O., some Chilean producers further classify their wine by specifying the type of terrain. Bottles stating Costa (coastal), Entre Cordilleras (mid-mountain range), or Andes after the D.O. reflect the vineyards location within the entire range of Chile's viticulture regions. These denominations are complementary to the D.O. system and not mandatory. So don't expect to see them on every bottle. Still, when provided, this information is meant to inform the consumer about the grape growing conditions. For instance, grapes grown in the Andes are going to have higher elevation, mountain air, and sedimentary soil.

The term Estate-bottled means both the winery and their vineyards are located within the same D.O.

Chileans love to use many other terms like Reserva, Gran Reserva, and Superior. However, there is no legal standard around these terms, and wineries have free reign to use them as they see fit.

© Yacht Cru Wine Guide

Central Valley

Central Valley is an enormous wine region—extending 250 miles north to south along the very thin country. The Central Valley lies in the center of country nestled between the Andes mountains and coastal mountains along the ocean. It is Chile’s original wine making region given its perfect wine-growing climate.

Central Valley accounts for 83% of all Chilean wine production, and it is responsible for the vast majority of Chile’s Carménère.

Central Valley includes 4 sub-valleys: Maipo, Rapel, Curico, and Maule.

Maipo Valley

Maipo is the original of the original. It is right outside Santiago and receives plenty of love from both tourists and the locals. Maipo is home to some of the larger players you might encounter.

Maipo Valley isn't a one-trick pony—it can do more than great red wine. Quality white wine is also produced here, including Chardonnay. In the US, you should be able to find great Maipo wines at all price ranges.

When labels include the term Alto to accompany Maipo (e.g., Alto Maipo), the grapes were grown at an elevation of over 1300 feet. Alto Maipo is home to some of Chile’s most prized wines. Alto Maipo is also known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, which often showcases graphite notes and profound structure.

Colchagua Valley

Colchagua is a region within the Raphel Valley, sitting at its most southern point. It maintains a wine-friendly temperate Mediterranean climate.

As the second largest wine region, Colchagua's terroir is varied. On the lower side, the soil is a perfect mix of clay and silt loams. As you head up in the mountains, you’ll find granite, which adds minerality to Carménères wines.

Colchagua has gained a great deal of recognition since the late 90s for amazing red wines. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are, respectively, the first and second most produced varietals in Colchagua. However, Carménère, coming in third in production, is the real star of the show. Colchagua accounts for half the Carménère grapes from Chile.

Wine Tasting Time!

Casa Silva Carménère, Los Lingues Vineyard, 100% Carménère, Valle de Colchagua Andes, 2018, $19

This wine exploded with intense flavors of blackberry jam and eucalyptus. There was a nose of green bell pepper, lavender, and strawberry. John and I tasted black pepper, jalapeno, asparagus, wet wool, and black plum. There is medium plus acid with medium plus cedary tannin. The high alcohol at 14.5% ABV adds to the medium plus body. There was a medium raisiny finish coming in at 22 seconds.

Perez Cruz Estate Bottled Carménère, 93% Carménère, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle del Maipo Andes 2017, $24

This wine blew our minds with its complexity of flavors. We smelled blackberry, red plum, asparagus, cinnamon, and coffee. We tasted licorice, blueberry, burnt squash skin, hay, fig, earth, tar, charred wood, leather, nutmeg, and prune. We enjoyed the medium plus acid paired with the medium plus vegetal tannins. This 14% ABV wine had medium body. This Carménère wine had a medium finish coming in at 20 seconds.

Final Thoughts

Chile also does great Pinot Noirs further north in the Casablanca and San Antonio Valleys. To learn more, please checkout our post: John's own personal wine regions.

For as bold and flavorful as Chilean Carménère is, the price point is amazing. For all you "I only drink Napa Cabs" people, it’s time you open your horizons and give Carménère a chance. Life finds a way!

Your clever girl,