Libations for Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving dinner is a marathon of decadent dishes. We asked our Barrel to Bottle podcast team to curate a list of complimentary brews, spirits, and wines including some much needed palate refreshers. For a deeper dive, we paired each recommendation with a classic Barrel to Bottle podcast episode. Let's raise a glass to good eating, good drinking and a joyous Thanksgiving!
This has always been one of my favorite rose Champagnes ever since that fateful day I was introduced to Champagne. What’s cool about Laurent Perrier is, not only are they the largest female and family controlled Champagne house, they are also in charge of Delamotte, Salon, De Castellane, and Oudinot. The Rose is produced through the saignee process, aged for a minimum of five years, and consistently pulls top scores from critics. Cooler still, the bottle is styled after the bottles of the 16th century. This is one of those amazing expressions of rose Champagne you can drink before, during, and after your Thanksgiving feast. I simply adore it, and I know you will, too.
Our value sparkler. A creamy texture shows crisp green apples and lemon zest. Bone dry yet vibrantly expressive, this aperitif will surely whet the appetite. As flavorful as it is, this brut is enjoyable on its own. With such an outstanding price to quality ratio, this is the perfect sparkling wine for large gatherings as you can confidently buy a case without breaking the bank or worrying if you're skimping on quality.
Vouvray, nestled within the central Loire Valley, is famous for its many styles of Chenin Blanc: from still to sparkling, and bone dry to lusciously sweet. The Fouquet Les Girardieres is a beautiful bottle that strikes the perfect balance between dry and sweet, which for me is great for a Thanksgiving meal. That’s coming from a wine lover that doesn’t gravitate towards sweet wine. It works because of its refreshingly high acidity, which counters that residual sugar and creates a wine with just a hint of sweetness. Think about all the different flavors that take shape on the table: savory turkey and gravy, sweet yams, spicy stuffing, and salty green bean casserole. The vivacious acidity will create a sensation of lift on your palate while the savory and spicy elements of your meal will mellow the sweetness a bit.
Listen, you don’t want a ton of tannin or super heavy oak for a Thanksgiving meal. At least, I don’t. That’s why this GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) blend works so well, especially when Grenache is the main constituent to the blend. You want smoothness, elegance, and plenty of fruit; and this wine has it. The black fruit aromas are ripe and jammy, but not overly so. On the palate, it’s round and rich, which works well with the heavier dishes usually found on the Thanksgiving table.
This red blend is a knockout! A juicy, fruit forward blend crafted with grenache, syrah and mourvedre. Light bodied with a super-smooth structure that offers vibrant flavors of cherry, raspberry, and chocolate with a long, fresh finish. The perfect go-to red and a superb value.
I talk a lot about how Thanksgiving is an all-American Holiday and it’s great to drink domestic wines to celebrate that fact. I feel lucky because we make delicious, world-class wines in our country. Rarely do I celebrate this glorious day of eating and football without a few selections from the land of the free and the home of the brave. So, this year, I’m pouring Frog’s Leap Zin. Zinfandel is considered California’s ‘own’ grape and is not found in very many places outside the US. Zinfandel works for Thanksgiving because it’s fruity with super-smooth tannins. Zin’s bold flavors demand flavorful foods - enter the Thanksgiving feast! To make things even better, Frog’s Leap is a super cool biodynamic producer. This wine will not disappoint.
If you’re a fan of the Barrel to Bottle podcast then you may have heard my associate Roger waxing poetic about Madeira. He loves the stuff and so do I! What’s cool about this medium-sweet fortified wine is that, thanks to the way it’s produced, Madeira is almost indestructible! You can buy this bottle, open it up on T-day to enjoy with your pumpkin pie, and keep it open in your fridge to enjoy for months afterward. In this decadent wine you’ll find aromas of caramelized fruits that play well with the wine’s nutty toffee notes. This Bual’s round, rich, creamy character is counterbalanced by a lively, refreshing acidity.
This is a perennial Whiskey Hotline favorite. It’s a four-grain bourbon made from wheat, rye, barley, an heirloom red corn. A hearty but balanced bourbon full of rich oak, sweet wheat and spicy rye flavors that perfectly complement traditional Thanksgiving fare. Kristen likes to pair this one with a big slice of pumpkin pie.
The Binny’s handpicked barrel program delivers another hard-to-find distillery and an outstanding whisky. Glenlossie has long been a staple malt for many high end blended Scotch whiskies, notably Dimple Pinch. This ‘lossie delivers gobs of ripe fruits laid over a medium-full body with a balancing touch of vanilla candy. The full cask strength of 59.2% abv never overpowers. With a bit of water, the fruit pops even more, and the palate turns creamy soft. Well balanced, approachable and crowd-pleasing Scotch.
The 25-year Islay from Boutiquey Whisky Co. comes from an unnamed distillery on Islay. We’re awfully sure this is from a certain distillery at the end of Pier Rd., just past a bog on the way to the Kildalton Cross. Whiskies of this age from that place are incredibly rare, and usually cost twice as much. Twenty-five years really mellows the intense peat smoke, but it still burns brightly at the heart of this complex and elegant malt. A special whisky for special occasions.
Even in cooler weather, gin can shine. Earl Grey tea is the star of the botanical show here, and the spicy floral quality it adds to FEW’s citrusy gin gives the spirit depth and a touch of a savory character that pairs best with sweater weather. Just add lemon juice and honey syrup for a classic Bee’s Knees.
Proof that there are still great deals in Cognac! Ferrand Double Cask comes to us from the Grand Champagne cru, which produces delicate Cognacs that display extraordinary finesse. Sweet oak and dried apricots greet the nose, backed by a supple palate that doubles down on the dried fruits and finishes with a gentle oak spice. This Cognac is a blend of 10-20 year-old eaux de vie finished in a Banyuls cask. Hard to believe a Cognac of this age and complexity is only $75.
Fall means orchard fruits, and this pear brandy delivers the goods. Sweet, ripe pear meets spicy oak at a mixology friendly 104 proof. Try it with a bit of rye whiskey as a take on a classic Stone Fence or just with some warm cider. Copper and Kings are cranking out some seriously good oak-driven brandies, and this was an easy barrel to say yes to.
If you don’t want to sink into the couch for hours after your Thanksgiving meal, give amaro a try for dessert! Amari are bittersweet Italian liqueurs traditionally consumed as a digestive aid. Montenegro is a medium style amaro, meaning it’s not too bitter, too sweet, nor too heavy. Just right if you’re starting down the path to pleasant digestion. Orange peel and vanilla are the dominant flavors with some vegetal notes, baking spices and gentian in there as well. Enjoy a glass on the rocks with a citrus twist. You’ll be ready for round two, or three.
The flagship in Alaskan’s award-winning portfolio of beers, this signature amber takes inspiration from a 19th Century Alaskan Gold Rush era brew. Rich and malt forward, but with just enough hops to keep things perfectly balanced. This remarkably food friendly brew will pair wonderfully with almost everything on the table. You can even try mixing a little into the gravy for some added depth of flavor.
Light in body, yet high in alcohol, the best Belgian tripels are paradoxically both rich and refreshing. When it comes to tripels, Tripel Karmeliet is hard to beat. Estery and aromatic, its pillowy soft foam is floral and herbaceous, accentuating a fruity sweetness and spicy finish. It pairs wonderfully with salads and veggies, and its Champagne like effervescence leaves the palate fresh and clean.
Hazy/New England IPAs are often described as looking, smelling and tasting like orange juice. Deschutes Fresh Haze checks all those boxes. This isn’t merely unfiltered Fresh Squeezed. Creamier, less bitter and showcasing a different lineup of hops (Mandarina, Amarillo and Simcoe) – it’s hard to believe there’s no actual fruit juice in this can. Its vibrant citrus flavor pairs especially well with cranberry relish and sweet potatoes.
Bone dry Berliner Weisse is often ordered with a shot of fruited syrup, which adds color, flavor and a soft finish. In the spirit of this tradition, North Coast’s Cranberry Quince cuts to the chase, infusing pear and apple aromatics with mouthwatering lactic acidity. The combination of fruity cranberry and tangy quince results in a paradoxically opulent, yet snappy beverage that evokes Champagne and classic cocktails. A unique conversation starter that will enliven and refresh your guests’ palates.
How about a break from beer? Vander Mill uses handmade cinnamon roasted pecans and whole vanilla beans to create this one of a kind hard cider. Sweet spice and vanilla pair perfectly with bright apple notes, and the pecans impart some body and a subtle nuttiness on the finish. A perfect partner for any number of harvest dishes, especially sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.
Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout is a now iconic American take on Russian Imperial Stout. Jet black in color, its complex finish combines the flavors of dark fruit, roasted malts and rich dark chocolate. Brooklyn’s brewmaster Garrett Oliver is revered for his masterful pairing of beer and food and he suggests you serve this decadent stout with chocolate desserts, ice cream and cheesecake. We think it also pairs quite nicely with a big slice of pecan pie.