Don't break the bank with expensive wine; our best budget-friendly wines
Pass the turkey (and the inexpensive wines).
When you look over your massive shopping list for Thanksgiving, we're sure it's already giving you hives thinking about how much feeding a Turkey Day army might cost. Then you add in the libations — beer, wine, champagne, or even a round of fall-inspired cocktails — and you might pass out.
Click here for the Thanksgiving Wines Less than $15 Slideshow
Fortunately, we're here to give you some budget-friendly wines that won't break the bank this holiday season. For less than $15, you can stock up on enough vino to keep the whole family (even your grumpy-pants uncle) happy.
The choices we've provided — lots of red and white options for your dinner — are not only affordable, but they don't skimp on quality. From red and white blends from Fetzer to a sparkling wine from Jaillance, we have the drinks to make your Thanksgiving dinner just an afterthought. (Just kidding — we know you spent a lot of time picking out that turkey). After that, it's as simple as pairing your wines with your dinner, and sitting back to enjoy.
For more turkey talk, visit The Daily Meal's Guide to Thanksgiving!
5 Value Wines for a Crowd
Here are five Thanksgiving-perfect wines to buy by the case, for $15 a bottle or less.
NV Gruet Brut ($15). The idea of New Mexican sparkling wine once seemed like a joke. Gruet changed that with sparkling wines like this affordable, green-apple-scented brut.
2012 Benziger North Coast Sauvignon Blanc ($15). Sauvignon Blanc and salad are a classic pairing. Sauvignon Blanc and turkey, not so much. But Benziger&aposs bottling is richer than most, so the match works well.
2012 Indaba Chenin Blanc ($12). Full-bodied Chenin Blanc, like this tropical-scented one, deserves more recognition for its versatility with food.
2012 Marcel Lapierre Raisins Gaulois ($13). All sommeliers have Beaujolais on their Thanksgiving tables. This delicate one is made by third-generation winemaker Mathieu Lapierre.
2010 La Maialina Chianti ($11). Blending Sangiovese with other varieties is a trend in Chianti right now, but this pure, cherry-rich, all-Sangiovese wine goes even better with turkey.
Serious Eats Guide to Affordable Wine for Thanksgiving
If you're hosting a big crowd for Thanksgiving, you don't want to break the bank with your wine choices. At the same time, gross wine does no favors to all the food you slaved over. We sought out the best wines for pairing with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and more, all $18 and under (and some way under.)
Here are our top picks and a few general tips for seeking out tasty Thanksgiving wine on a budget.
White Wine Bargains
When looking for white wines that will be delicious with the Thanksgiving meal, we generally lean toward lightly oaked or unoaked examples that won't make it taste like we're swallowing a mouthful of firewood with our turkey. Medium-bodied wines are going to stand up to the richness of the meal nicely, and it doesn't hurt to have a slight hint of aromatic sweetness to stand up to dishes like stuffing and sweet potatoes.
For around $11, we were pretty pleased with the Blue Plate 2010 Chenin Blanc from Clarksburg, California, which offers richness and body without the interference of oak (which can be a barrier when you're drinking wine with food.) This wine has bright tart highlights from the addition of 12% Sauvignon Blanc, but it's mellow, with a little asian pear, apricot, and beeswax-and-honey flavor that's common in Chenin Blanc (there's also a drop of Chardonnay in there, and only the Chardonnay is aged in oak, the rest is all clean stainless steel.)
Even better is Montinore Estate's Borealis, a white blend featuring Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer. With a remarkable clarity and purity of flavor, this wine seems crystalline and infused with aromatic jasmine and grapefruit, with palate-cleansing tartness to balance a whisper of residual sugar. A refreshing wine that's perfect for the herbal flavors of stuffing, turkey, and gravy, and a killer deal at $15 or less. I would buy a case of this in a heartbeat if I had any more storage space.
When you think of Beaujolais, you think of red wine, right? But Chatelard Beaujolais Blanc is an unoaked Chardonnay—yep, a white wine—that's just right for Thanksgiving. It's lightly tangy, but supple and creamy enough to support mashed potatoes. And no vanilla-perfume oak flavor to stand in the way of the food-wine harmony. For $15, we're in our tasters assumed this wine was pricier when tasting it blind.
Grüner Veltliner is a remarkably food-friendly grape variety we tend to drink examples from Austria. But it's popping up in the States too, and if you're drinking domestically this holiday, we encourage you to seek it out. We recently enjoyed the Chehalem 2010 Ribbon Ridge Grüner Veltliner from Oregon it offers a rich medium bodied feel without oakiness to interfere with your food. This wine, which runs about $18, has hints of peaches (with the pit), honeydew, and sweet celery, and a pleasant corn-like graininess that makes it a good match for cornbread stuffing.
Red Wines That Won't Break the Bank
Red wine for Thanksgiving should complement, not overpower your food. Turkey is not the thing to pair with a super heavy, oaky, full-bodied red. Save it for short ribs! Instead, we look for easy-drinking red wine with nice tart acidity to refresh the palate as you eat.
We'd happily pour Pittnauer Bürgenlander Rot at a big Thanksgiving gathering. Don't be afraid of the name: 'rot' in German just means red (it's pronounced 'rote'.) This biodynamically farmed blend of Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and St Laurent (a relative of Pinot Noir) from Austria is so easy to drink you'll find your $13 liter is gone quicker than you expected. It tastes like tart pomegranate and Bing cherries, spiced with clove. There's lots of nice acidity and a bit of black earth, but this is a friendly, chuggable wine that won't make you think too hard.
We often think of Spanish wines as robust, oak-aged beasts, but Jeromin Zestos (2010) is an unoaked blend of Tempranillo and Grenache that's aged in stainless steel and cement tank, leaving it with a fruity freshness that makes it work well for Thanksgiving. The dark fruit flavors (blueberries, dried currant) come together with a bit of black pepper and great acid to make a remarkably balanced wine for 8 or 9 bucks.
Best Bang for the Buck: Gamay
Fruity, early-release Beaujolais Nouveau from huge producers often tastes mostly like the banana-like esters produced by the yeast that's used to ferment it. It can be pretty unappealing. But that doesn't mean you should stay away from the Gamay grape, or from real Beaujolais—please don't. Gamay makes up some of our favorite Thanksgiving wines—at any price.
Pierre Chermette's Beaujolais 2010 runs around $16 or less and is amazingly well fitted for the Thanksgiving meal, with its lovely pomegranate flavors, hints of black pepper and clove, plus its sour-cherry acidity that cleanses the palate. It's a fresh-tasting, deliciously juicy-tart wine that should be served with a little chill (if you have room in the fridge.)
We were thoroughly seduced by Nicole Chanrion's Cote-de-Brouilly Domaine de la Voute des Crozes, imported by Kermit Lynch. This elegant, luxurious option (around $18) from the slopes of Cote de Brouilly in Beaujolais offers deep berried fruit (like baked blueberries and blackberries) and hints of baking spices and cocoa, plugging in nicely to the sage and mushrooms in our Thanksgiving stuffing.
In Burgundy, blends of Pinot Noir and Gamay are called Bourgogne Passetoutgrains. These can offer tremendous value, and it's a great grape combination for Thanksgiving. Taupenot-Merme's $17 version is peppery and leathery, tasting like iron-rich clay and really tart cranberries and cherries. The tart acidity keeps the meal lively.
What's your budget for Thanksgiving wine? Got any great under-$18 bottles to recommend?
Disclosure: With the exception of the Zestos and Pittnauer Bürgenlander, all wines were received as samples for review consideration.
Thanksgiving Wines for Less Than $20
Kyle MacLachlan is an actor by trade. He was the star of "Dune," "Blue Velvet," and "The Doors." He also has quite a television resume on shows, such as "Twin Peaks," "Sex and the City," and most recently, "Desperate Housewives."
Since he was in college, he has been a die-hard wine enthusiast and, a few years ago, with business partner Eric Dunham, he founded Pursued by Bear Wine in Washington State. MacLachlan was born in Yakima, Wash., and he and a small number of other vintners are leading the charge of making the Pacific Northwest the new Napa Valley. MacLachlan appeared on "The Early Show" with five different wines and one sparkling wine that he says are perfect matches for Thanksgiving dinner, which are all less than $20.
When, exactly, did MacLachlan first get passionate about wines?
"Passion for wines came from college. I didn't like beer, and I had to drink something," he said. "David Lynch was actually my first wine mentor, and wine mentors really help when you want to educate yourself. We had a wine exchange. David and I used to exchange wines every birthday. We have been doing that for years."
In fact, after his screen test for "Dune," he got his first bottle from Lynch.
"It was waiting in my hotel room waiting for me," he said.
Another mentor for MacLachlan was Ann Colgan, of Colgan Cellars.
"She was responsible for making me believe that I could make wine. And it was my friendship with Eric Dunham that led to making my own wine," he said. "So with the right people, my spark of interest really grew into a fire."
MacLachlan said any wine he could get his hands on was of interest to him. On weekends when he was living in Los Angeles, he said he would drive to Napa try everything he could.
So how did the actor go from this love of wines, to making his own?
MacLachlan said he got connected with Durham and began trying different combinations of wines and vintages. Then they started making their own. MacLachlan's company, Pursued by a Bear, makes 12 barrels a year.
"I don't worry too much about it as a profession. It's only about 280 cases. Eric (MacLachlan's partner) makes thousands of cases. It's amazing what he does. "
As for the name "Pursued by a Bear," MacLachlan said it originates with Shakespeare. In fact, it's a stage direction: "man exits, pursued by a bear."
"That always stuck with me as one of the odder stage directions," he said. "I tried it out, it sounded good, it has stuck."
MacLachlan was one of the first people who encouraged winemaking in the Pacific Northwest. But how did he know it would be good for making wines?
MacLachlan, a native of Washington State, said what's great about the state is that "there are two distinct climates, a marine climate and an Eastern side, which is dry and terrific for farmland."
"In the East you can control your water, which works well for grapes," he said. "(My partner) has been doing it for 15 years. And even Oregon has started getting in on the game. It's a great time for Pacific Northwest wines."
Wines seen on "The Early Show":
LaMarca Prosecco, Italy - $15.99
"The Early Show" gave MacLachlan a price cap of $20. He chose an Italian version of champagne, Prosecco, and he thought Italian was appropriate as well due to the fact that it was an Italian that first explored it. A delicate, well-balanced Prosecco, showing a good blend of baked apple, sour lemon and grapefruit, with a lightly creamy mineral texture on the palate. Medium froth, with some body and a pleasant lemon and mineral finish. According to MacLachlan, it's the best Prosecco out there at the moment. Drink now. It's nice because it is both fruity and dry.
Four Legged White, Dunham Cellars, Wash. - $16
This wine is made by MacLachlan's business partner, Eric Dunham. The price, MacLachlan said, is really reasonable, and it's a beautiful combination of riesling and chardonnay. It has great fruity characteristics with a mineral taste. It is rich and it cuts through heavy foods, working very well for Thanksgiving. It shows crisp, ripe green apple, lemon meringue and hints of coconut on the nose. A wonderfully rich yet refreshing mouth with apples, pineapple and pear notes with mango riding along. Left with a little bit of residual sugar, this wine makes a perfect complement to foods with spice.
Viridian Pinot Noir, Ore. - $16
MacLachlan loves this wine, partially because it is such a terrific value. Viridian Pinot noir is a deep, rich ruby color that makes it almost impossible to see through the glass. It exhibits an intense aroma of dark cherries and pomegranates that develop into a strong depth of flavor. It lingers on the tongue and finishes with a hint of spice in the background.
Cloudline Pinot Noir, Ore. - $20
Pinot Noir works very well for Thanksgiving, MacLachlan said, due to its hints of berries, which go well with cranberry sauce, turkey, you name it. This one has a lighter taste, with hints of blueberry. Forbes Magazine named this one of the 25 Great American Pinot noirs and said: "A wonderfully valued Pinot that knocks the socks off most California versions at twice the price, thanks to its fine balance of bright red-berry flavors and strong, soft tannins. It's fresh and lively now, but give it another six months and some of its sharper angles will have rounded out nicely."
Rosenblum Zinfandel, Calif. - $11
The only California wine on the list. MacLachlan really wanted to showcase the wines from the Pacific Northwest, but every wine list needs a California right? It's got a spicy zesty flavor, which will work well with turkey for the big day. The Baltimore Sun writes, "This full-bodied zinfandel with generous flavors of blackberry, plums, black pepper, chocolate and blueberry is one incredible value. For a humble red blend, rather than an expensive single-vineyard wine, this shows a great deal of complexity."
Three Legged Red, Dunham Cellers, Wash. - $19
MacLachlan likes this wine because it is acidic, but still bright and balanced. This is a great wine to go with foods. From the Wine Spectator magazine: "Open, generous style has a layer of floral flavors around the generous plum and berry fruit, all mingling nicely with toasty notes on the round finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2005."
One more wine of note, though it costs more than $20: Pursued by Bear
Cabarnet Sauvignon, produced by Kyle MacLachlan and his partner Eric Dunham in Washington State. It received a 91 point rating from Wine Spectator, and retails for $65.
The Best Wines to Go With the Bird
You've got your menu planned, the guest list long finalized, and your table setting all mapped out, but what about the wine? With the array of flavors on most Thanksgiving tables &mdash tangy cranberry sauce, candy-sweet yams,savory stuffings, rich mashed potatoes, and the mild gaminess of turkey &mdash it's a challenge to come up with just one wine to go with everything, and to please every drinker.
My suggestion: Choose at least one white and one red, stick to wines that won't break the bank (most of my recommendations go for less than $20), and forget about pleasing everyone.
For Your White:
Try a Riesling. This white wine tends to have a hint of sweetness (ask for an off-dry bottle) that will complement similar flavors in dishes &mdash think fruit-studded stuffing or sweet potatoes &mdash instead of clashing. Their acidity also nicely balances out richness and salt, and if your cornbread has a little heat from some chiles or you make our chipotle-spiced turkey, Riesling will work nicely with it as well.
Look for: Bottles Leitz (try Dragonstone), Dr. Loosen (such as Dr. L), or Pacific Rim
For Your Red:
Beaujolais wines from France are made from the Gamay grape and tend to be fresh tasting, juicy and lightweight. They're excellent with food, especially poultry. While Beaujolais Nouveau (the newly bottled wine from the current vintage) is inexpensive and widely available, it's worth taking a step or two up in complexity: try a Beaujolais Villages or even one of the Cru Beaujolais (wines from specific areas in the region, such as Morgon, Brouilly, etc.). They're a bit more money but offer more nuanced flavors as well.
Look for: Wines from Marcel Lapierre (I like Raisins Gaulois), Joseph Drouhin, or Georges Duboeuf
For Your Sparkling:
Spanish Cavas, Italian Proseccos, and Crémants from France are all good choices &mdash bubbles are fun! &mdash especially if you don't want to spring for a bottle of Champagne. Their fizziness and acidity are good palate cleansers for rich foods like our creamy potatoes. A sparkling rosé wouldn't be a bad idea either.
Look for: Cava from Raventos I Blanc or Prosecco from Adriano Adami
Important Note: This is not the time to try that bottle with 16% alcohol &mdash it'll put everyone to sleep before you even leave the table. Try to stick to those that are no more than 13% alcohol by volume (often listed as ABV on the label). Rieslings, especially those that are off-dry as opposed to dry, often have ABVs of 10% or lower.
And don't forget that the staff at your neighborhood wine shop is there to help. If you don't see any wines from the producers above, ask for something similar in your price range. They'll hook you up without any undue stress. That's something you'll be thankful for.
Catherine Lo is an associate editor in the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen.
15 Outstanding Thanksgiving Wines for $15 or Less
As Thanksgiving approaches and the masses descend upon their local grocers, one piece of the holiday dinner puzzle is a notorious afterthought—the wine. And when everyone from your immediate family to your neighbor’s cousin’s best friend is coming to dinner, stocking the wine grid can really add up. Let’s be honest, a $15-or-less price tag can be a mixed bag if you don’t know what you’re doing. Luckily, we’ve got experts like Courtney Schiessl, sommelier and wine writer, and Jamie-Lynn Argenta, food and beverage project manager for Ace Hotels, by our side to tease out the best Thanksgiving wines on a budget.
“I love selecting Thanksgiving wine each year because the holiday meal itself offers such versatile opportunities for pairing delicious wines,” says Schiessl. “The centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner—the turkey—is a neutral canvas for wine pairing. Almost anything works well with it, so you can get creative and find the wines that are best suited to your palate.” So, whether you're a die-hard red drinker or partial to a nice, crisp Sauvignon Blanc, there is something for everyone at your dinner table. Not sure what your crowd demands? Schiessl suggests leaning into bubbles. “When in doubt, pick sparkling! The bright acidity and palate-scrubbing bubbles pair well with everything.”
All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
How to Choose a Wine for Thanksgiving Dinner
Thanksgiving is the one day to forget everything you know about wine.
Why forget everything you know about wine on Thanksgiving? Because Thanksgiving dinner is tricky. It&aposs a hodge-podge of competing flavors: salty, sweet, sour, savory, rich, earthy, possibly even unearthly. The point is, somewhere along the line, your wine is bound to go clankity-clank!
Ultimately, the only advice left standing is. drink what you like. Which includes going beyond wine to crisp ciders and snappy suds.
So that&aposs the good news. And here&aposs even more good news. Because the meal is all about competing flavors, it doesn&apost make much sense to blow the bank on expensive wine. A nice mid-level wine is great. Something that still signals celebration but doesn&apost require hocking a kidney on ebay.
Can you handle another slice of good news? These days there&aposs plenty of value in the $15–$25 range. When in doubt, ask the wine pro at the store for help in finding some good deals.
And then there&aposs this. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner is a big, big meal. It&aposs also a long, long meal. So you might want a wine that&aposs bright and refreshing, not too big and alcoholic. Something you can drink for a while without face-planting into the mashers. If you can&apost decide between two worthy wines, let alcohol content be the tiebreaker, choosing the wine that&aposs, say, 13% alcohol instead of the 14.5% bomber.
There are definitely wines that fit the bill, like a slightly sweet and aromatic Riesling or Gewürztraminer. And since this is the most American of holidays, try one of the great ones from U.S. producers, such as Washington State&aposs Chateau Ste. Michelle for Riesling and Gewürztraminer, California&aposs Gundlach Bundschu Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast for Gewürztraminer -- and keep an eye out for Oregon&aposs King Estate Winery Pinot Gris.
As for reds, sweet dishes like cranberry sauce can make red wines taste bitter and sour. A go-to Thanksgiving red is Pinot Noir. It&aposs fruity, has palate-refreshing acidity, and is typically less alcoholic than that other Thanksgiving favorite, Zinfandel. Check out Pinot Noirs from Oregon&aposs Willamette Valley, like Willamette Valley Vineyards or Brigadoon Vineyards. Try lower-alcohol California Zins from Geyser Peak and St. Amant wineries.
What am I drinking? Well, if this year shapes up like every other, I&aposll start with a lowish-alcohol Riesling or Gewurztraminer, and enjoy it it&aposll pair as well as anything, probably better. But then, I&aposll feel the pull of the reds, and eventually I&aposll slip into their orbit: the Pinot Noirs, Merlots, Barberas, whatever&aposs red and on (or near) the table. And that&aposs where I&aposll stay. What can I say? I&aposm better off red.
But again, the bottom line: Don&apost sweat it too much. Forget all the wine rules for this one day, have a relaxing holiday, and when you wake up on Black Friday, everything you forgot about wine will magically repopulate your brain.
Check out our complete collection of Thanksgiving Recipes.
20 Affordable Thanksgiving Wines That'll Pair Well With Dinner
When it comes to selecting affordable wine for Thanksgiving, Beaujolais is the most classic and, therefore, most popular choice, says Christine Kendig, sommelier at Husk Greenville. This red wine has become standard on holiday dinner tables, because it has great acidity&mdashperfect for a big feast&mdashand is relatively lower in tannins&mdasha true crowd-pleaser, she explains.
But it's just the tip of the iceberg. If you prefer white wine, like chardonnay, pinot noir, bubbly, port, or even rosé, there are plenty of affordable wines that are perfectly suitable for a special occasion (read: don't seem&mdashor taste&mdashcheap). Skeptical? Just try one of these sommelier-recommended varietals. They pair well with everything from main courses like turkey and mashed potatoes to traditional Thanksgiving desserts like apple pie and ice cream.
Perhaps best of all, you can find all of these great wine bottles at your local shop or even at grocery stores and places like Trader Joe's or Walmart for less than $25. Now that's something to celebrate.
This dry riesling just won two prestigious awards: top 100 best buys of 2019 and best white wine at the 2019 New York Wine Classic, says Julie Hosbach, sommelier and education and member services manger of The New York Wine and Grape Foundation. "Riesling is arguably the most food-friendly wine, as its high acidity acts as a conductor of flavor intensity, bringing out the best flavors in your turkey dinner," she says. "Its high acidity also cuts through the fattiness and cleanses your palate."
12 wines to try in November, with our Thanksgiving ranking (photos)
CLEVELAND, Ohio – In November, our tasting panel sipped a dozen wines priced between $10 and $20 each. We try to find inexpensive wines on the market with decent quality-to-price ratio. This month, we offer our gauge on a scale of 0-10 of how we think the wine would go with a traditional Thanksgiving meal (0: not the best pairing 10: a perfect match). Some might taste better with buttery mashed potatoes, others might stand up to rich, dark turkey meat or the tartness of cranberries. You want a wine that you can taste but not overwhelm the food or be overwhelmed. Note: Our monthly reviews feature wines that cost less than $25, and all should be available in Northeast Ohio retail distribution. Let us know what you enjoy and don't prefer. Salud!
Marc Bona, cleveland.com
Steele Cabernet Franc Rose
Steele Wines, California, Rose from Cabernet Franc, 2017, $17
Cab Franc makes for a different rose and is always worth trying. Here we get a bit of cranberry but mostly tart strawberry. It smells sweeter than it tastes. Not a wimpy rose by any means.
13 Thanksgiving Wines For Under $20
Although it’s worth the buy just for the fun bottle, Kung Fu Girl also packs a mean punch (of flavor). This Riesling is chock-full of apricot, kumquat, nectarine and lime flavors. It hits you hard in the middle of your palate and has a long, minerally finish. It’s the perfect partner for vegetables and greens.
This deliciously crisp and vibrant Riesling can take you from turkey to pie, if you’ll let it. Perfectly balanced fruit flavors, complimented by a lengthy finish makes this wine especially easy to pair with. No need to mix and match, this wine will take you all the way.
Hogue is one of the best Riesling’s out there. It’s fresh, flowery, and in the middle range of sweetness. This wine is fruit-driven and food-friendly. It should taste just as good with a a bite of turkey as it does with the sweet cinnamon and cloves in your pumpkin pie.
This Riesling starts soft and sweet, with a satiny texture and creamy flavors. It’ll go well with your dessert, but it shouldn’t be discounted as a dinner wine either. Even though it starts off sweet, it finishes with a bit of citrus that celebrates it’s richness and depth. It’s a perfect compliment to the more savory sides of your meal.
If you’re looking for a red wine for your Turkey Day drink needs, look no further. Although it didn’t originate here, the Zinfandel is known as the “All-American” grape. It’s kind of the perfect metaphor the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving, don’t you think? Pilgrims didn’t originate here, but became the foundation for the free-world. A good Zinfandel is full of history, character, and flavor.
Delicate and elegant this fruity red wine smells like ripe berries and tastes like royalty. Old Vine Zinfandels are made from grapes that are grown on vines old enough to order wine themselves. That’s pretty impressive. What better fit for holiday all about our history?
This one’s almost worth buying for it’s name alone. It’s relatively full bodied, which means it might be a bit of a battle with such a heavy meal. But, we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work. This ripe and concentrated berry flavored wine is anything but boring. It’s got great texture, moderate tannins, and it’s just smooth enough around the edges to work with turkey and potatoes.
5 Thanksgiving wines to be thankful for
(Jennifer Chase/For The Washington Post)
One way to make Thanksgiving wine selections more fun is to choose a theme. If your heritage is from a wine-producing country, celebrate that. Or follow the menu: For example, if you are using Italian recipes, choose accordingly. A Latin-themed menu would pair nicely with wines from Spain, Argentina or Chile. This week’s picks fit one of my favorite themes: They are local (or, at least, from the East Coast). That, of course, presents a problem: These wines are not widely available and may require winery visits or shipping. Ironically, the easiest to find among them is from New York, not Virginia or Maryland. Perhaps some enterprising distributor or retailers should take a road trip and bring more of these local gems to market.
Jon and Mills Wehner are best known for their unoaked chardonnay, called Steel, produced from their estate vineyards on the Eastern Shore, just yards from the Chesapeake Bay and its oysters. The 2014 cabernet franc is their best red yet that I have tasted, and in fact the best Virginia cab franc I’ve had in a long time. It is dark ruby, with savory aromas of meat and dried herbs. On the palate, the flavor is rich and deep, with just enough spice and bell pepper to reveal the identity of the grape. The moderate alcohol level left me refreshed and ready for more after each sip. Bravo! Alcohol by volume: 12.5 percent.
Distributed by Eastern Shore Classic Wines: On the list in the District at the Dabney and in Virginia at L’Auberge Chez François in Great Falls. The winery will ship to residents of the District, Maryland and Virginia.
Ankida Ridge has been a Virginia star since the debut of its pinot noir with the 2010 vintage. High on a mountainside northwest of Amherst, winemaker Nathan Vrooman produces elegant, light-bodied pinot that looks more to Burgundy in style than to California. The 2014, new to the market, is racy and energetic, with bright berry flavors and firm acidity. Many of the outlets below still have the 2013 vintage. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Country Vintner: Available in the District at DCanter on the list at Bourbon Steak. Available in Virginia at Altura Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, the Local Market in Falls Church on the list at Field & Main and the Whole Ox in Marshall, Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg.
Not only is this a delicious, food-friendly Riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes, one of my favorite wine regions to visit, but it’s a feel-good wine, too. The winery donates a portion of the profits to food banks in the states where the wine is sold. ABV: 10.5 percent.
Distributed by Country Vintner: Available in the District at Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits, Glen’s Garden Market on the list at Convivial, the Hamilton, Indique, Mulebone and RPM Italian. Available in Maryland at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg and Good Earth Natural Foods in Leonardtown on the list at La Rive Breton in Leonardtown, Main Ingredient in Annapolis, Silver Diner (Frederick, Rockville, Waldorf). On the list in Virginia at the New Bridge in Warrenton, Screwtop Wine Bar in Arlington, Silver Diner (various locations), Union Street Public House in Alexandria.
Almost on a lark, Katie DeSouza decided to make a dry sparkling wine from some of the Norton grapes her family grows in their vineyard just outside Leesburg, Va. The result is surprisingly fun: a bright, ruby-colored wine with energetic fizz and delightful fruit flavors that seem to dance around in your mouth. Stylistically, it’s more like an Italian Lambrusco than it does the cloyingly sweet sparkling shiraz from Australia that was in vogue a few years back. It is expensive you can find good Lambrusco for less, and even good champagne can be bought at this price. But it is a delicious novelty, and it just might be the wine to match the cranberry sauce in your Thanksgiving feast. ABV: 12.5 percent.
Maryland, $25 (500 milliliters)
I discovered Eric Rice at the FreshFarm Market in Silver Spring, where he was offering samples of several ciders alongside the fresh fruits grown on his farm in Frederick County, Md. Rice makes the Vocare in the Spanish sidra style, fermenting it for a year and then aging it for another year in oak barrels. The result combines richness and complexity with finesse. ABV: 7.4 percent.