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Wine Lover's Guide to Party Planning

A one-stop-shopping guide to the best buys in wine, food and style at big-box stores and megashops like Target and Trader Joe's.

When people think of wine shops, they don't usually think of a 142,000-square-foot Costco. But the big-box king is probably the country's top wine merchant (it sold more than a billion dollars worth of wine globally in 2010). So I hunted for great Thanksgiving wine picks from Costco, Trader Joe's and three other major chain stores, then asked Associate Editor Daniel Gritzer and Style Editor Jessica Romm to weigh in on food and design choices for one-stop shopping. Here, our favorites, plus wines to go with America's favorite night-before-Thanksgiving meal: pizza.

Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's Wine: Best Sparkling Wines

Trader Joe's Wine: Best Sparkling Wines
© Theo Morrison

NV Albero Organic Cava Brut ($9) Cava is made in the same manner as its more expensive French cousin, Champagne, but it uses the indigenous Spanish grapes Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada. This appley bottling is crisp and lightly earthy.

NV Piper Heidsieck Champagne Brut Cuvée ($30) A majority of Pinot Noir in a Champagne blend usually makes the wine powerful and rich, but despite that, Piper's Pinot-driven basic cuvée leans toward a more delicate, fresh sensibility.

NV Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut ($15) Sonoma's Gloria Ferrer (which is owned by the Spanish cava megaproducer Freixenet) has been making crisp, focused sparkling wines like this citrusy one since it was founded back in 1986.

Trader Joe's Appetizer Picks

Trader Joe's Party Planning Picks: Rosemary Pecans and Cranberries
Rosemary Pecans and Cranberries ($3.50/5 oz)
This lightly salted, herby fruit-and-nut mix is great sprinkled on a salad or as an easy cocktail-hour snack.
Trader Joe's Party Planning Picks: Truffle Mousse Pâté
Truffle Mousse Pâté ($6/8 oz)
Les Trois Petit Cochons's black truffle-studded chicken liver pâté is silky-smooth, with a hint of sherry.
Trader Joe's Party Planning Picks: Lucques Green Olives
Lucques Green Olives ($4/7 oz)
Imported from the south of France, Lucques olives are sweet and plump, with a fresh grassy-green flavor.

Photos (left to right): Courtesy of Trader Joe's, © Theo Morrison, © Theo Morrison.

Trader Joe's Party Planning Picks: Pita Chips
Multigrain Pita Chips ($2/6 oz)
These thick, sesame seed-studded pita chips have a good whole-grain flavor and a deeply satisfying crunch.
Trader Joe's Party Planning Picks: Cilantro and Jalapeño Hummus
Cilantro and Jalapeño Hummus ($3/10 oz)
T.J.'s hummus has a terrific flavor, thanks to its spicy jalapeño-cilantro pesto topping.
Trader Joe's Party Planning Picks: Smoked Sockeye Salmon
Wild Nova Smoked Sockeye Salmon ($17/1 lb)
The lean slices of this smoked wild salmon have a balanced, cold-smoked taste and a great texture.

Photos (left to right): © Theo Morrison, Courtesy of Trader Joe's, © Theo Morrison.

Target

Target Wine Picks

Target Wine Picks: The Show Malbec
© Theo Morrison

2010 The Show Malbec ($12) Grapes from two of Argentina's top Malbec regions, Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, give this big red its supercharged berry character.

2009 Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red ($13) A luscious, juicy red, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah comes primarily from the Paso Robles area.

2010 Target Sauvignon Blanc Wine Cube ($18 for 3 ltr) This classically Californian Sauvignon Blanc, with its fresh grapefruit notes, is made by Napa Valley's Trinchero Family Vineyards.

Target Style Picks: Metal Wine Carrier
© Courtesy of Target

Metal Wine Carrier ($20)
Like many of Target's fall houseware items this year, this handy six-bottle wine tote has a classic French-country style.

Target Style Picks: Giada Wooden Spoons
© Theo Morrison

Giada Wooden Spoons ($11 for 2)
TV chef Giada De Laurentiis updates the classic wooden spoon with dishwasher-safe bamboo.

Target Style Picks: Classic Tidings Pot Holder
© Theo Morrison

Classic Tidings Plaid Pot Holder ($4)
Bold tartan patterns, which have been popular on fashion runways, are also trendy for the kitchen.

Target Style Picks: Gold Scalloped Tray
© Theo Morrison

Gold Scalloped Tray ($15)
This graceful gold-hued serving piece is reminiscent of a baroque platter.

Costco

Costco Wine Picks

Costco Wine Picks: Cameron Hughes Santa Barbara Pinot Grigio
© Theo Morrison

2009 Cameron Hughes Santa Barbara Pinot Grigio Lot #264 ($12) Bright and zippy, this white comes from warm, sunny vineyards near the Santa Ynez Valley on California's Central Coast.

2007 Chateau Souverain Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($18) A rich red with gentle tannins; a good partner for turkey as well as red meat.

2007 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre ($20) Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese grapes from a single vineyard in Italy's Valpolicella Classico zone are used for this spicy, robust red.

Costco's Best Main Courses

Pomegranate-Jalapeño-Glazed Ham Recipe
© Con Poulos

Spiral-Sliced Ham ($70 for 7 lbs) Johnston County Hams smokes its ham over hickory wood, leaving it moist, smoky and pleasantly sweet.

Tronchetto di Porchetta ($80 for approximately 5 lbs) Porchetta Primata's American porchetta is true to Italian tradition: Tender pork is seasoned with rosemary, garlic and sea salt and wrapped in crackling skin.

Whole Smoked Turkey ($100 for 2 turkeys) These 10-pound birds have juicy meat, a mild smoke flavor and skin that becomes wonderfully crisp in the oven.

Whole Foods

Whole Foods' Best Wine Bargains

Whole Foods Wine: Best Wine Bargains
© Theo Morrison

2010 Pacific Rim Organic Riesling ($14) Lightly sweet, ripe and made with organically farmed grapes, this Washington state white has bright peach notes.

2009 Santa Julia Innovación Malbec Tempranillo ($10) This earthy, firm red blend from Argentina comes in a one-liter bottle, making it convenient for large parties or family events.

2009 Benziger Sauvignon Blanc ($14) Blending grapes from California's Sonoma and Lake Counties helps winemaker Rodrigo Soto balance this brisk white's tart citrus and softer melon flavors.

Whole Foods' Best Side Dishes

Whole Foods Side Dishes
© Courtesy of Whole Foods

String Beans with Slivered Almonds ($8/4 servings) The nutty flavor in this green-bean salad comes from toasted almonds and almond oil.

Corn-Bread-And-Sage Dressing ($14/4 servings) This all-American dressing mixes corn bread and maple syrup with smoky bacon and pecans.

Cranberry-Orange Relish ($5/16 oz) Ginger and nutmeg add spice to this cranberry sauce.

Terrific Pizza Wines

The evening before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest pizza-delivery occasions of the year—Domino's alone delivers 1.1 million pies. Here are some great wine choices, paired with three of America's favorite toppings.

Pizza Wine Pairings: Extra Cheese
© iStock

Topping: Extra Cheese

$10 and Under Wine Pick: 2009 Folonari Pinot Grigio ($9)

Wine Pick Over $10: 2009 Fontana Candida Frascati Luna Mater ($20)

Pizza Wine Pairings: Pepperoni
© Getty

Topping: Pepperoni

$10 and Under Wine Pick: 2009 Ruffino Chianti Classico ($9)

Wine Pick Over $10: 2008 Tenuta di Capezzana Barco Reale ($15)

Pizza Wine Pairings: Mushrooms
© Getty

Topping: Mushrooms

$10 and Under Wine Pick: 2009 MandraRossa Nero d'Avola ($10)

Wine Pick Over $10: 2007 Fantinel Refosco Vigneti Sant'Helena ($25)

Recipes for Thanksgiving Parties:

Published November 2011
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