10 Great Red Wines to Drink on Thanksgiving

The best Turkey Day wines, from dirt-cheap to totally extravagant.
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Red wine is a superb alcoholic accompaniment for Thanksgiving dinner. When it’s chilly out and you are eating heavy comfort food, a good Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir just makes perfect sense. Fortunately, there are always plenty of options available, from splurge-level to everyday affordable.

Take it from John Slover, Major Food Group’s sommelier and corporate wine director, who cultivates wine lists at Manhattan hotspots like Dirty French and Carbone.

“Because turkey is so lean, reds with low tannins work well—think Gamay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Grenache,” he says. “Because man appetizers and sides and all the fixings are on the sweeter side, a little bit of fruitiness goes a long way.” 

His personal recommendations for reds include Hudelot Noellat Chambolle Musigny 2013 and Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny Terres Chaudes 2016.

Beginning with the least expensive bottles, here are 10 great red wines that are available now to enjoy with your turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and extra lumpy gravy this Thanksgiving, as well as your day-after leftover sandwiches.

2016 Substance ‘Cs’ Cabernet Sauvignon

This 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Columbia Valley, and could be priced much higher than it is. Look for notes of cigar, chocolate, and soft wood along with big bursts of berry. Buy a couple of bottles of this to pass around the Thanksgiving dinner table this year. $15

Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon

You certainly don’t have to spend over 20 bucks for a good bottle of wine, and Gnarly Head’s Cabernet falls right into this category. Some of the wine is aged in oak, the rest in stainless steel vats, resulting in flavors of black pepper, dark fruit, and a touch of floral notes. This goes great with grilled meat, and pairs very nicely with a roast turkey. $15

Achaval Ferrer Malbec

This Argentinian wine from Achavel-Ferrar is very popular in its native land, and should be here as well. This Malbec pairs quite well with a variety of food, including all the turkey and side dishes that go along with a Thanksgiving dinner. Look for red, blue, and black berry flavors, along with a warming mouthfeel. $20

Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir 2015

The New Zealand Pinot Noir is very affordable and very good, a perfect wine for the cooler weather of the fall that goes well with heavier food and roasts (we’re looking at you, Thanksgiving turkey). Look for big berry fruit flavors along with some oak and earth notes. $22

The Federalist Lodi Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

The Federalist ages some of its wine in bourbon barrels for six months, longer than many other wineries choose to do. In this case, a California blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Merlot offers up notes of oak smoke, fruit, and vanilla at a very affordable price point. $22

Early Mountain Shenandoah Valley Cabernet Franc 2016

Early Mountain Vineyards is a Virginia winery that opened in 2012, and has been getting some recent critical acclaim. The winery considers this Cab Franc a Thanksgiving favorite, with a palate that is lighter on the fruit notes but full of herbal and earthy tones. $34

2015 K Powerline Syrah

Charles Smith opened K Vintners, his first winery, in 2001 in Walla Walla, Washington. This 2015 vintage red is made from 100 percent Syrah grapes, and is full of earthy flavors like olive and pepper that combine with a particular minerality and fruitiness. $45

Cooper & Thief 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

If you and your guests like your whiskey as much as your wine, this is a good red to bring to the table this Thanksgiving. This 2015 vintage California Cabernet was aged for six months in rye whiskey barrels sourced from Utah’s High West Distillery, adding notes of toasted grain and baking spice to this warm, complex wine. $60

Fort Ross 2015 Stagecoach Road Pinot Noir

This is a California wine from a vineyard overlooking the Sonoma coast, the farthest west vineyard in the state of California. The name comes from the fact that the grapes were harvested from an area where a stagecoach road used to run, made famous by the robbing of the Wells Fargo Stagecoach in 1877. You’ll find notes of black plum and spice on the palate of this wine that spent ten months in 50 percent new French oak. $80

Robert Mondavi 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

This wine is definitely a holiday splurge, but it’s well worth it for a special occasion like Thanksgiving. The grapes come from the winery’s To Kalon vineyard, the Robert Mondavi winery’s home since in 1966. Look for notes of toasted almond and sweet oak spice in this 20-month, oak-aged wine. $175