Drawing Restraint

At Thanksgiving, less is more in wine

Overdoing it is a tradition on Thanksgiving, but picking wines to balance the feast's generous flavors requires restraint.

With all those buttery, creamy dishes, richness is the last attribute you want in a Thanksgiving wine. But if you think that removes Chardonnay from the booze equation, you're drinking the wrong wines.

The 2011 Arnot-Roberts Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay ($30 for 750 ml; available at Domaine LA and The Wine Country), is a wine in the same mold as Stony Hill, that California classic, but with an even more razor-like acid edge. Each sip is the equivalent of an extra dash of lemon added to any dish on the table.

Lower-alcohol, lighter wines, like the 2011 La Clarine Farm Sumu Kaw Vineyard Mourvèdre ($24 for 750 ml; available at Domaine LA and Buzz), which has an autumnal edge to it, are ideal red selections.

Sparkling wines and beer are a great fit for Thanksgiving overkill too. But no beer or Champagne that we've tried hits as close to the core of the Turkey Day flavor profile as Frederic Goussin's NV Héritage 1900 Cuvée Tradition ($16 for 750 ml, available at Domaine LA and Silver Lake Wine), an apple-based import from just south of Champagne that tastes of the fruit's earthier side, with a smoky undertone.