Why? Well, it’s the only holiday with a savory feast that happens right after the grape harvest. Not to mention the fall flavors pair perfectly with many great wines. So, let’s find out which Thanksgiving wines to add to the table this year.
In This Article
Break the ice with something refreshing and celebratory like sparkling rosé.
Bask in the glory of at least one special occasion wine (dessert wine or something stranger).
There’s nothing better than arriving to a party and being handed a glass of something sparkly. It even works on little kids (but perhaps a shiny tumbler of Martinelli’s instead?).
Sparkling rosé pays tribute to the changing seasons with its pinkish hue and the red fruit core that forecasts incoming cranberries for the holidays.
Here are a few sparkling rosé wine styles you deserve to taste at least once in your life:
Lambrusco Rosé – This wine is often made with Lambrusco di Sorbara – the most delicate of the Lambrusco varieties. Expect delightful, fruit-forward aromas of pink grapefruit, watermelon, and rose candy.
Cava Rosé – A lean and dry style from Spain that usually includes varieties like Garnacha, Monastrell, Pinot Noir, and the rare Trepat. On the nose, expect forest berries, raspberry bramble, and wet stones. Bottles labeled “Reserva” will have been aged on the lees for a longer amount of time.
Italian Metodo Classico – Two regions in Italy rival Champagne: Franciacorta in Lombardy, and Trento in Trentino-Alto Adige. These wines are quite fine (and priced accordingly). Expect tiny, creamy bubbles and cherry driven aromas.
Bugey Cerdon Rosé – One for the wine geeks! A richer, darker rosé from the foothills of the French Alps and made using a very ancient sparkling wine method. You’ll find the local varieties of Poulsard and Gamay are often used and deliver aromas of peonies and forest berries.
Tasmanian Rosé – The rare and exciting sparkling wines of Tasmania are finding their way into US stores. The producer we found (Jansz) had super compelling aromas of bitter-sweet red fruits and subtle smoky, yeasty notes. Easy on the palate.
FUN FACT:Wine sales for Thanksgiving are the highest of any single holiday.
If you’re looking to pair wine with poultry, it’s important to think about intensity. Sure, you could blow down the house with a big, bold-faced Bordeaux, but it’s not going to do your beautiful bird any justice.
Fortunately, there’s a segment of red wines with more juicy fruit and brown spice subtleties. The following medium-bodied reds pair really well with turkey, gravy, and roasted winter vegetables:
Carignan – Loaded with cherry fruit and spiced tobacco flavors, Carignan is meant for turkey. Seek out old vine wines from places like California, Chile, and Languedoc-Roussillon France.
Zinfandel – With tasting notes akin to cranberry sauce (e.g. “spiced red fruits”), Zinfandel will moisten even the driest slice of turkey. We’re really delighted by the subtle white pepper, sage, and volcanic subtleties that Zin delivers from Napa Valley. (It might be Napa’s best value!)
Garnacha – So juicy and pure, Garnacha from Spain delivers sweet red fruit and citrus notes on top of dusty minerality. The best part is that you’ll find many of the buying options to be shockingly affordable. If you want to bump it up a notch (and taste some serious versions), look for Garnacha from the Vinos de Madrid area.
Pinot Noir – The classic go-to red for Thanksgiving. Honestly, it’s hard not to have a bottle or two of these lying around. No pressure, but you might want to stock up on value 2015 Bourgogne Rouge before they sell out!
Blaufränkisch – It’s hard to stumble upon greatness for under $20 if you’re perusing the usual suspects. Instead, look for something like the lesser known Blaufränkisch. The Austrians obsess over this red because it delivers rich, black fruit flavors, spice, and food-friendly acidity. This is a great choice for dark meat and wild rice stuffing.
Beaujolais – We’re sure to be roasted on a spit if we forget to mention the classic Francophile-Thanksgiving favorite: Beaujolais. Long ago, the Beaujolais grape (Gamay) was banned in Burgundy, but that didn’t stop it from existing – and thriving – in neighboring Beaujolais. Wines are beautifully floral (think violets and peonies) with soft, luscious, berry-driven fruit, and a subtle bitter note on the finish. Look for a Beaujolais Cru for superior quality.
Mencía – When people finally figure out how exceptional Mencía wine is, we’ll no longer be able to get is so cheap! Imagine a wine with the dark fruit of Malbec paired with the delicacy and complexity of high-end (high tannin) Pinot Noir.
There’s no better time to share something rare and unique than during the holidays. Some wines are just too much a delicacy to hoard alone. Here are a few special wines to consider:
Sercial Madeira – This very rare single-varietal Madeira wine can be served chilled and makes for an amazing match with pumpkin pie. It’s not too sweet and exudes toasted walnut, burnt caramel, and peach notes.
Pedro Ximinez – Forget dessert when you can drink something so sweet and rare as a 90-year old Solera dessert wine from the Montilla-Moriles region in southern Spain. This very sweet wine offers fig, molasses, and nutty-coffee notes. We’re honestly shocked that it’s so nicely priced.
Vin Jaune – Truly golden-yellow in color, you’ve never had anything like Vin Jaune before. Vin Jaune is a true geek wine with arresting flavors of linseed oil, pear, and preserved lemon. Despite its bizarre aromatic structure and saline taste, it pairs fantastically well with pumpkin pie.
We tested five of the world’s best wine glasses to figure out what separates a $5 glass from a $50 one.
If you’re skeptical of those articles that claim to have the “Best Wine Glasses for 2018,” then this deep dive is for you. You’re right to suspect there’s more to glassware than good Amazon reviews.
In This Article
What are the best wine glasses and why? (And, how much should you expect to spend?)
What aspects should you pay attention to when buying wine glasses, regardless of price?
If you prefer red (or white) wines, what glass traits should you look for?
We Tested the World’s Best Wine Glasses
… and here’s what you need to know
Wine Glass Selection
We held off on making this video for several years because of the selection process. Why? Learning how to assess glasses takes a lot of experience. Over the years I’ve tested close to a hundred wine glasses and have about a dozen or so favorites.
I chose these glasses because they represent the best of the best. Additionally, they are universal glasses, as in, they can be used for any style of wine (red, white, rosé, or sparkling). Finally, despite their fragile appearance, they are all dependable and should hold up to everyday use.
While collecting glasses we were delighted to get our hands on the newly launched Jancis Robinson + Richard Brendon “1” collaboration. If you don’t know her, Jancis Robinson is one of the world’s foremost wine critics. So, this particular glass comes with a lot of built-in street credit!
Which Glass Won?
Naturally, it was impossible to pick just one. We chose two!
When you watch the video, you’ll note I was very skeptical of this glass because it comes with so much hype. That said, I was truly impressed with Zalto, especially for what it does with red wines.
Why: I felt compelled to choose Zalto because it delivered the sauciest fruit flavors, while still maintaining a balanced palate. Since so many wine connoisseurs prefer red wines, I think the fruit-focus in this glass is highly desirable.
I was shocked at how well this machine made glass did alongside glasses that sell for over two times the price. Besides the taste test, I’ve personally watched a tasting room attendant drop one on the floor and it didn’t break–it bounced!
Why: What I liked about this glass was how it delivers flavors in a sequential manner. This trait makes Gabriel-Glas glass fantastic for blind tasting and for improving your palate. The fruit delivery was equal to Zalto, but more fresh in style.
The Endless Pursuit of Better Wine
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In the video I mention a few key things to pay attention to:
Crystal vs Glass: I’ve seen wine glasses available in glass, crystal glass, and borosilicate glass. Unless you’re buying affordable glasses (under $9 a stem), then you’re best bet is crystal (mineralized glass). Crystal glass comes in variable quality levels and types.
Opening Diameter: This trait really affects the aroma presence of wine. In the video I had some quips about smaller diameter openings for red wines because of how much it shoveled the aromas into my nose (the burn!). 2.25 inches was tight for reds but ideal for whites. 2.5 inches was about right (both Zalto and Gabriel-Glass were around 2.5). Finally, my “old standby” restaurant series Riedel Vinum Extreme Cabernets have a diameter of 2.75.
Rim Thickness: Less material is generally considered better. Some value manufacturers just cut the lip and file it smooth. Avoid these. We’ve been very impressed with the quality Riedel puts out and use it as a good baseline.
Multi-Piece: Most glasses are made with multiple pieces. The high end models are not, which is why they are so much more durable despite how fragile they look and feel. Still, there’s nothing wrong with being multi-piece, just make sure they get the seams off. (You can feel the seam on the stem.)
Bowl Clarity: One thing I noticed on all the hand blown models was the amazing clarity. Many machine made glasses will have slight ribbing on the bowl and it distorts light. It doesn’t affect the taste, but it’s one of those things you notice when looking at quality.
What to Expect to Spend
It’s hard to find exceptional glassware for under $20 a stem.
Under $20 a stem, you’ll do best with larger glass manufacturers such as Stolzle or Schott Zweisel. You’ll notice these glasses are all multi-piece, with beaded lips, ribbing, and seams on the stem, but they do have the right shape!
I’ve been consistently impressed with Riedel. In fact, the Veritas “New World Pinot Noir” (~$23 a stem) are fantastic. The downside is these glasses aren’t universal.
This was why I was so tickled pink with the Gabriel-Glass “Stand’Art” Edition glasses (~$29 a stem). These glasses offer great value and would work well as a universal glass.
Then, at the top-end of wine glasses there are many options. We loved Zalto and Gabriel-Glas, as we mentioned above, but could come up with reasons to love each of the glasses we tested.
NOTE: When speaking to glass manufacturers I was surprised to learn that hand blown glasses take substantially longer to produce. A production facility can whip out 30,000 machine made glasses in a week compared to just 5,000 hand blown glasses.
Before grapes ferment into wine, they are sugary. Little yeasts, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae, gobble up grape sugar and produce alcohol. Sometimes though, the winemaker stops the yeast from eating all the sugar.
You might wonder,
“Why would they do such a thing?!”
As it happens, leaving some residual sugar in dry wine can increase the “likeability factor.” Many wines marketed as “dry” have anywhere from 0–30 grams per liter of residual sugar. Surprisingly, they taste dry.
Here are a few examples:
Franciscan Estate | Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon | 2014 This wine has 109 calories and 0.45g of carbs per 150ml/~5 oz serving.
Cupcake Vineyards | 2016 California Chardonnay This wine has 112 calories and 0.9g of carbs per 150ml/~5 oz serving.
Dr. Loosen | Mosel Valley “Ürziger Würzgarten” Dry Riesling | 2016 This wine has 105 calories and 1g of carbs per 150ml/~5 oz serving.
Tsantali | Naoussa Greece Xinomavro | 2016 This wine has 99 calories and 0.28g of carbs per 150ml/~5 oz serving.
What We Learned On Our Hunt for Keto Wines
Bad News: you’re not going to see RS listed on the label.
The US has no labeling requirements for nutrition, so no one adds it. Additionally, we found searching for this information online very difficult.
In fact, it took me multiple back-and-forth emails to squeeze this information out of one producer. (Their wine had 32 g/L RS – perhaps this was why?)
Good News: Many wines will fit the bill! On our searches, we discovered a few key clues:
Value-driven dry wines tend to have more residual sugar to improve taste. We’ve seen value wines range from about 5–30 g/L of residual sugar.
Generally speaking, white and rosé wines often feature some level of residual sugar. Sweetness in white and rosé wines helps counterbalance acidity. So, to be safe you can anticipate 10 g/L or 1.5 g carbs per serving.
Sparkling wines that are marked with “Brut,” “Extra Brut,” or “Brut Nature” typically have the lowest amounts of residual sugar. Expect 1.5g carbs per glass or less. Here’s a fun article about Champagne sweetness levels for more information.
Use search terms like “fact sheet,” “tech sheet,” “rs,” or even “pH” to quickly search for a specific wine’s technical information.
What Wines To Avoid
Wines with higher alcohol levels include varieties like Shiraz, Pinotage, Zinfandel, and Grenache. You can’t really blame them for it though, they’re naturally high in sugar.
What’s more important to avoid is wines with higher sweetness levels (anything above 30 g/L RS or 4.5g carbs). Sweet wines include Moscato, Port, and other dessert wines.
How Much Should We Drink on Keto?
Most short-term, in-depth keto diets do not recommend drinking alcohol at all.
That said, if you’re working on a longer term nutrition lifestyle change, your best bet is likely the moderation model:
No more than 2 drinks per day for men*
No more than 1 drink per day for women*
The funny thing about alcohol is that we digest it very differently than other calories. Part of the effort happens with these handy little enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenase. Enzymes help chemically process alcohol calories through our liver, stomach, and kidneys. So, we’re still not sure if we actually burn alcohol calories as efficiently as other calories.
In case you’re wondering: The reason why women can’t drink as much is because women have less alcohol-digesting enzymes than men. It’s a shame, but also a fact.
*As we all well know, everyone’s physiology is different and some lineages ought to moderate more! Talk to a doctor or nutritionist about your unique situation.
Last Word: Drink Wine… Even If It’s Folly
If you’re seriously committing to the keto thing, you might want to stop drinking altogether while your body adjusts. After this process, you might be able to start adding dry wines back into your diet.
What’s life without living a little?
After taking a deep dive into the keto diet and learning from others, we did notice a trend: the people who stick to a diet and exercise regime are the ones who get results. So, if we learned anything from this whole process, it’s that doing the work will get you the results you want.
You can do it. Salut!
Do The Math Yourself
Carbs: Take residual sugar level in grams per liter (g/L) x 0.15 = grams of carbs per 150 ml serving.
For alcohol calories, take ethanol calories per milliliter (5.37) x serving size (150 ml) x alcohol by volume (0.135 or 13.5%) = 108 calories per 150 ml serving.
For sugar calories, take sugar carbs per serving x 4 (there are 4 calories per gram of sugar)
alcohol calories + sugar calories = total calories per serving.
Alcohol calories math:
There are 7.1 calories per gram of pure ethanol
Convert grams to ounces by a multiplier of 28.3495
Factor in the density of ethanol at 0.789 g/cm3
Calculation: 7.1 x 28.3495 x 0.789 = 158.81 calories per ounce (oz) of pure ethanol or 5.37 calories per milliliter (ml)
Dr. Loosen GG Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling 2016 vintage fact sheet
Tsantali Naoussa 2016 vintage fact sheet
Cupcake Vineyards 2016 vintage fact sheet
Other wine data may be inaccurate because it was pulled from lcbo.com
Orange wine is a bit of a misnomer. It is not wine made with oranges, nor is it a Mimosa cocktail (a blend of 1 part orange juice to 2 parts sparkling wine.) Orange wine is something entirely different.
What is an Orange Wine? Orange wine is a type of white wine made by leaving the grape skins and seeds in contact with the juice, creating a deep orange-hued finished product.
What is Orange Wine?
To make an orange wine, you first take white grapes, mash them up, and then put them in a large vessel (often cement or ceramic). Then, you typically leave the fermenting grapes alone for four days to sometimes over a year with the skins and seeds still attached.Orange winemaking is a very natural process that uses little to no additives, sometimes not even yeast. Because of all this, they taste very different from regular white wines and have a sour taste and nuttiness from oxidation.
“Make sure you’re sitting down
when you taste your first orange wine.”
Let’s thank Simon Woolf over at Decanter, who found out that the term “Orange Wine” was coined by British wine importer David Harvey at Raeburn Fine Wine . He used it to describe this non-interventionist style of white winemaking.
You may also hear the term “Ramato,” which means “auburn,” in Italian and typically refers to Italian Pinot Grigio made in an orange wine style.
What Does It Taste Like?
Orange wines have been described as robust and bold, with honeyed aromas of jackfruit (a fleshy tropical fruit), hazelnut, brazil nut, bruised apple, wood varnish, linseed oil, juniper, sourdough, and dried orange rind.
On the palate, they’re big, dry, and even have tannin like a red wine with a sourness similar to fruit beer. Often they’re so intense that you might want to make sure you’re sitting down when you taste your first orange wine.
TIP: The deep color of orange wine comes from lignin in grapeseeds.
Food Pairing with Orange Wines
Orange wine paired with food at Klinec in Goriška Brda, SloveniaBecause of their boldness, orange wines pair excellently well with equally bold foods, including curry dishes, Moroccan cuisine, Ethiopian cuisine (like those spongelike pancakes called Injera), Korean dishes with fermented kimchi (bibim bap), and traditional Japanese cuisine, including fermented soybeans (Natto). Due to the high phenolic content (tannin and bitterness) and the nutty tartness they exhibit, orange wines pair with a wide variety of meats, ranging from beef to fish.
Where Does it Come From?
The process of making orange wine is very old, but the reinvigoration of this ancient process has only resurfaced in the last 20 odd years. Many modern-day orange winemakers look as far back as 5000 years in Caucasus (modern-day Georgia,–not the state) where wines were fermented in large subterranean vessels called Qvevri (“Kev-ree”) that were originally closed with stones and sealed with beeswax.
Orange wine served in a traditional fashion with food at Klinec in Goriška Brda, SloveniaOrange wines are still very rare, but many countries have growing interest in this natural winemaking style.
Most orange winemaking can be found in northeastern Italy, along the border of Slovenia in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Here you can find orange wines produced with the indigenous grapes of the region, including Sauvignon Vert (Friulano), Ribolla Gialla, and Pinot Grigio. The orange wine process was popularized in Italy by winemaker Josko Gravner who first attempted an orange wine in 1997.
Just over the border from Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy is the region of Goriška Brda (“Gore-eesh-kah Barda”) in Slovenia, which has a long history of orange winemaking. The wine is very well-integrated here, and you’ll often see wines poured in standard glasses, like beer. There is another odd wine to be found here too, called Motnik. It is made in a natural method, like orange wine, in barrels that are disinfected by smoking herbs like rosemary, bay leaves, and sage.
Georgia is most famous for their qvevri-aged wines. Qvevri (aka Kvevri) were the first vessels ever to be used for wine fermentation, with archaeological findings supposedly dating back to 6000 BC. Qvevri are clay vessels lined with beeswax and completely buried under the ground where the temperature stays consistent throughout the year, allowing the wines to ferment in the natural coolness of the earth. The grape of choice from Georgia for natural qvevri wines is called Rkatsiteli (“Awr-kat-seh-telly”), which is known to produce wine with a deep red-orange hue.
Example Georgian Orange Wine Producers:
Alaverdi Monastery “Gurjaani” in Kakheti
Our Wine in Kakheti
Lagvinari “Goruli Mtsvane,” “Tsolikouri” and “Tsitska”
Look! An Orange Wine Book
Remember how we mentioned Simon J. Woolf in the beginning of this article? Well, in 2018 he launched a fantastic book about all things orange called Amber Revolution.
The book follows his journey into learning the mysteries of this bizarre-but-wonderful beverage. It also has a great guide of producers to know and try. So, if you’re into skin contact white wines (or working on your MS) this is a must!
Some of the more experimental producers are starting to make natural wines and are experimenting with the orange wine technique, particularly in New York, where the Rkatsiteli (“Awr-kat-seh-telly”) grape variety is grown.
Example United States Orange Wine Producers:
Channing Daughters “Meditazione,” “Ribolla Gialla” and “Ramato” (New York)
Red Hook Winery “SK” series (New York)
Scholium Project by Abe Schoener (Suisun Valley, California)
Shinn Estate Vineyards “Veil” by Anthony Nappa (New York)
Wind Gap Wines “Pinot Gris”
The more progressive Aussie winemakers have started to make orange wines primarily with Sauvignon Blanc, which works wonders in this style.
Example Australian Orange Wine Producers:
BK Wines “Skin and Bones White” (Adelaide Hills)
Born & Raised Wines Sauvignon Blanc (Victoria)
Lucy Margaux Vineyards (Adelaide Hills)
In France, there is a region east of Burgundy that produces rich orange-hued wines. The Jura region (famous for Comté cheese) makes nutty-tart wines called Vin Jaune and Côtes du Jura, which both use the oxidative style of winemaking with a rare grape called Savagnin (and sometimes Chardonnay). While these wines use a slightly different winemaking method (pressing off the skins), the wines have a similar taste to orange wines.
There are many different types of wine openers out there. So, you’ll want to choose one that best suits your needs. If you want to know what all the pros use, well, we use a wine opener called a :Waiter’s Friend.”
Waiter’s Friends can be as little as $2 (cheap as a cup of coffee, and just as rage-fueled) or upwards of $700. If you’re on the market for a decent but not-too-expensive model, I advise looking into what we carry in the store.
I’ve been cited for saying a proper serving is 150 ml, or 5 ounces.
The actual truth is, a proper serving is quite variable. It depends on the how much alcohol is in the wine and how much alcohol you can physically tolerate. Some human lineage lines are more sensitive to alcohol than others. (I know, sucks right?)
The one thing that’s helped me become more cognizant of over-drinking is making the serving size smaller. Try pouring yourself small 3 oz pours. It works!
Everyone who drinks affordable value-wines on a regular basis should own a decanter (or aerator). It’s the one simple thing you can do to improve the taste of almost any wine.
Wine tasting too sharp? Pour it into a decanter.
Wine stinks like sweaty socks? Pour it into a decanter.
If you are on the hunt for a quality decanter, you need to read this.
Storing Open Wine
Each wine is a bit different.
For example, my grandmother has had a bottle of Australian Tawny (a fortified sweet wine) sitting open (but corked) in her cellar for over 20 years. Believe me when I tell you that I was completely shocked to discover it tasted fine…actually, quite good!
For the rest of the world, as soon as you open a bottle of wine it starts an invisible timer. Oxygen exposure and temperature variations very quickly start to chemically react with the wine inside your bottle.
When wines go “bad,” they develop high levels of acetic acid, which technically won’t kill you, but it tastes horrible. Of course, that process takes a month or more to happen.
What happens in the meantime is that your wine starts to lose its luster. Then, it just starts to taste nasty. So, the infographic above shows some best practices for drinking windows on the common types of wine.
On Cellaring Wine
If you don’t have a cellar or proper temperature controlled wine chiller (with humidity control), don’t bother. Sure, you can buy wines to hold for a year or so, but they’re not going to last the long term in your closet. This is especially true if your storage area routinely goes above 75 ºF (23 ºC).