Wine Shopping Tips To Follow This Thanksgiving

Of the many things Thanksgiving has going for it, one of the most obvious is that it comes with a default menu. So, if you're following the Turkey Day tradition, you won't have to spend time brainstorming what to serve so much as how to time your shopping and prep and, perhaps, how to deal with potential turkey price sticker shock. Even if you're going with a plant-based menu, there are still plenty of resources to use, including Tabitha Brown's vegan Thanksgiving spread.

But that still leaves the viney-er question of which wine to serve. Because it's autumn, red can feel cozily appropriate. But if turkey is your main course, would white be more on point? And what about sparkling wines like Champagne? After all, Thanksgiving's a celebration. Then there are questions of what to spend and how much to buy. That's why we have prepared some food for thought on the topic of Thanksgiving wine shopping — care of Amanda Davenport, sommelier and wine director at Noisette. Read on for this sommelier's wine-shopping tips to follow this Thanksgiving.

Start your shopping trip with an open mind

First things first, take a deep breath and know that when it comes to wine, having many choices in many categories can work in your favor. In fact, Amanda Davenport recommends having more than one variety on hand at your gathering.

"Depending on how many guests you are hosting, try to have a few options," Davenport says, pointing out, "some people prefer white to red, or the opposite." Moreover, some guests may be mindful of a wine's vintage, but many are just happy to have a glass in hand. So, as Davenport assures us, "don't feel like you have to spend too much money on any single bottle. There are lots of good options for a good value!"

As for how much to buy, Davenport's rule of thumb is "one bottle per two people." But she says her "best advice" on the topic is never to be afraid to ask for help while wine shopping. "Whatever wine shop you find yourself in, someone there will have some fun suggestions for some cool things to drink or pair with holiday meals!"

Pro-tips for selecting the right red wine for Thanksgiving

As if we, ourselves, didn't enjoy the occasional Cabernet with our roast Thanksgiving turkey, we asked Amanda Davenport whether it's "okay" to serve red wine on Thanksgiving. Her response was to assure us, "Thanksgiving food can be diverse, so there can be a lot of options." She added, "Holiday foods are also just fun to eat, so the wine should be fun to drink too!"

As for some red wine recommendations, Davenport happens to love a nice Gamay for Thanksgiving. Gamay grapes are the essence of Beaujolais, and red Gamay goes nicely with Thanksgiving, according to Davenport. "It isn't too heavy and or overpowering, and specifically pairs well with your roasted Thanksgiving bird" — another reassuring answer given that red wine and poultry is not a "classic" wine and food pairing. As for a roasted turkey-friendly red wine that resonates as more full-bodied than Gamay? "Syrah from the Rhone Valley is a good way to go," Davenport tells Tasting Table.

White wines for the holiday

"White wines can also pair beautifully with holiday foods," Amanda Davenport tells Tasting Table. So, if your Thanksgiving wine shopping has you lingering over the whites, then, by all means, go with it. White is the poultry-wine pairing of traditional choice, after all, not to mention that white wine is also a reliable choice for cooking poultry. Considering that Thanksgiving will typically feature "some richer items on the table" as well, Davenport suggests having a white burgundy on your Thanksgiving wine shopping list. "Chardonnay is the grape here," she notes, "but don't be scared because of some typical Napa Chardonnays that are just way too oaky."

"Classic French Chardonnays have a bit of richness and texture, but still have a crisp fresh finish and a great minerality that is just great for food!" Davenport explains. But if you're still not sure, there's always Chenin Blanc as another fun option because, as she notes, "it's such a versatile grape." It's also one of the major types of whites you probably should know about anyway.

Yes, you absolutely can enjoy some bubbly with your Thanksgiving feast

Sommelier Amanda Davenport doesn't merely approve of serving sparkling wine on Thanksgiving; she endorses it. "I always suggest having a sparkling option. It's just super festive and pairs well with everything!" With regard to Champagne, Davenport advises selecting one labeled as "Brut" or "Extra Brut" because they're "the most approachable styles, as the 'sec' styles can be on the sweeter side."

But what about the price? Is Champagne even affordable?

"You don't need to spend a ton on a fancy bottle of Veuve Clicquot [when] there are lots of beautiful options in the $50-70 range," Davenport says, and these can be "equally delicious" in addition to being a "great value." Some of Davenport's favorite Champagnes are Marie Courtin and Etienne Calsac. But if Champagne is outside your budget right now, Davenport suggests Cremant, a sparkling wine made in France, albeit not in the Champagne region. Davenport's favorites are Chateau de Breze and Domaine Migot (Brut Rose).

What to expect with the more unexpected wines on Thanksgiving

There's another point worth considering, especially if you're someone who likes thinking outside the box — and no, it's not boxed wine we're talking about here, although plenty of oenophiles speak of it fondly. Rather, "if you're looking for something more unexpected, try exploring wines from some cool, lesser-known but unique regions such as Savoie and Jura on the Swiss border of France, or Sicily or Croatia," Davenport recommends. As a bonus, she says, "these wines are just typically made in an old-world style, so they usually practice sustainable farming and all that good stuff anyway!"

That said, Davenport advises against selecting wines labeled as "natural." Although natural wine is "all the rage," she notes, "some of them are definitely produced better than others and sometimes they can be flawed and just inconsistent from bottle to bottle."

That doesn't mean they're off the table completely, but when you're hosting a group, it's best to play it safe. "Don't get me wrong, I totally support the idea of natural, minimal intervention, sustainable, and all of those things," Davenports tells Tasting Table, "but sometimes the 'natural' or 'funky' notes you taste in these wines can come from mistakes in the winemaking process." On the reverse, Davenport also avoids "large, mass-production labels" because of their use of "preservatives and other weird things" to make the wine taste the way it does. Sticking with something in between will be sure to please your crowd.