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Northwest Wine Critics Give Their Top Picks For Thanksgiving

The menu for most Thanksgiving dinners it pretty predictable. You’ve got your turkey, your stuffing and all the rest. But choosing the right wine can be a real challenge.

A good bottle can help wash down dry turkey, or smooth out family relations. Correspondent Anna King talked to some of the top Northwest wine experts to get their picks for the holidays.

Here’s a basic rule of thumb for wines at Thanksgiving according to Andy Perdue. He’s the editor of the magazine Wine Press Northwest. He says you need a lot of different kinds of wines to go with the cacophony of friends, family and flavors.

Andy Perdue: "Depending on how many people I have over for dinner, I will open anywhere from five to eight bottles of wine. I want to have a wide variety. You need to start the meal with a sparkling wine. Thanksgiving is a celebration of family and of life, and there is no better way to enjoy a celebration than with a glass of sparkling wine. I would either go with a Domaine Ste. Michelle, which is made here in Washington, or with Argyle which is made in Dundee, Oregon. I will tell you one tip that very few people know about. There is this little winery over in Centralia and it’s called Heymann. They make a wine from Washington cranberries that is absolutely spectacular. That is going to be the perfect wine, I think it will be the best wine that I will have with dinner this year."

OK so we have sparkling wines and cranberry wine but what about reds? For that, I turn to Portland wine-blogger Vincent Fritzsche.

Vincent Fritzsche: "People love cabernet, but Thanksgiving I don’t think is a great day for cabernet sauvignon. There is plenty of time for that. I’d much rather go for a pinot noir, a gamay noir, the grape of Beaujolais. Things of that more medium red wine bodied nature. And maybe a less tannic red wine like a zinfandel that can be pretty big and flavorful."

For more advice on reds I turned to the big vino gun — Paul Gregutt. He’s the Seattle Times wine columnist and author of the book Washington Wines & Wineries: the Essential Guide.

Gregutt says red wines should be fresh, versatile and inexpensive.

Paul Gregutt: "I don’t agree with those that say Thanksgiving is the time to pull out your fancy, old, rare and fragile bottles. Unless it’s a Thanksgiving for you and your spouse and no one else. It’s going to be wasted. It’s going to be lost in the shuffle of food, and friends and family and noise and the general tumult of the day. So drink the young, fresh, fruity wines that will go with just about anything."

But what about the best part of Thanksgiving dinner – the pie?

Portland wine-blogger Fritzsche says for classic pumpkin pie he likes lighter dessert wines like a late-harvest riesling, or a sauvignon blanc. Maybe even a tawny port.

And when you get into the pecan pies try an Australian muscat. Cheers!

More wine advice:

Andy Perdue

Vincent Fritzsche

Paul Gregutt

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