Celebrate with terrific wines for every budget, from bargain bottles to magnificent magnums.

By Ray Isle
November 04, 2020
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No matter what sort of celebration you're planning this year, you're going to need some wine. Good news is, there are delicious options at every price point, and mixing and matching is always encouraged.

Credit: Greg DuPree

Budget-Friendly Crowd-Pleasers

It’s the kind of Thanksgiving where half of you are in the kitchen half the time, and the other half are busily posting pictures to other friends at other Friendsgivings across the country. Keep it under $20 a bottle, relax, and pour another glass.

2019 Terre Brûlée Chenin Blanc ($16)

Vincent Carême, a Loire Valley star, recently started this South African project (his wife, Tania, is from the Cape region). His deft touch with Chenin Blanc translates seamlessly into this bright, peachy-lemony white. ($16 at wine.com)

READ MORE: The Best Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner

2019 Chemistry Willamette Valley Pinot Gris ($16)

A collaboration between Oregon’s Stoller Family Estate and Chehalem Winery, this white has scintillating nectarine and sweet citrus aromas; it’s juicy and ripe, with flavors in a similar vein. ($16 at wine.com)

2019 Santa Julia El Burro Natural Malbec ($15)

Organic Argentine winery Santa Julia jumps into the natural wine game here (minimal intervention, no sulfur, natural yeasts, etc.). Think spiced plum cake flavors but with a little raw-yet-appealing edginess. (From $15 via wine-searcher.com)

2019 Inama Soave Classico ($17)

Classic Soave: crisp, mouthwatering, with pear and apple flavors and a slight almond note that lingers. Inama is a top Soave producer, and its 2019 vintage maintains its hold on that claim. ($17 at wine.com)

2018 Iconic Sidekick Cabernet Sauvignon ($18)

If you want a Cabernet that seems designed to go with a roast bird, this one fits the bill. It leans to the elegant side, with surprisingly long red cherry and currant notes and light, fine tannins. ($18 at zachys.com)

2019 Sokol Blosser Evolution Lucky No. 9 White ($18)

Oregon mainstay Sokol Blosser’s popular Evolution white is now out in nifty 1.5-liter boxes (about 10 glasses). Made from a host of white grapes, it’s full of crisp melon and citrus flavors. ($18 at garyswine.com)

2019 Balletto Rosé Of Pinot Noir ($18)

Rosé makes for a fantastic Thanksgiving wine; who cares if it’s November? Winemaker Anthony Beckman’s version may be Provençal pale pink in hue, but its wild strawberry, tangerine, and spice intensity is all Sonoma. ($18 at napacabs.com)

2018 Innocent Bystander Yarra Valley Pinot Noir ($21)

The eternal quest: Find a $20 Pinot that actually tastes good. Quest resolved: this Australian version, with layers of red cherry and raspberry fruit and hints of toasted herbs. ($21 at wine.com)

2019 Radio Boka Tempranillo ($23)

This Tempranillo from Spain’s Castilla region is full of dark berry and plum flavors, with a mocha-oak note. Crowd-pleasing is the word; the same goes for the cool retro-radio look of the 3-liter box. ($23 at argonautliquor.com)

Fancier Fare

Credit: Greg DuPree

Linen tablecloth? Dad at the head of the table, sharpening the knife before carving the bird? Maybe jackets and ties? And ... Bottles of two-buck chuck? Let’s rethink that decision. Spend a little. Go for elegance across the board.

Red

2018 Georges Duboeuf Domaine De Javernière Morgon ($25)


Many of the top wines from Duboeuf are joint efforts with smaller producers, like this surprisingly robust Morgon, with its black cherry and black pepper notes.

2017 J. Christopher Basalte Pinot Noir ($30)


With its dark ruby hue and flavors of black raspberries, pepper, and orange peel, this layered Oregon Pinot from the Willamette Valley’s Chehalem Mountains subregion is impressively food-friendly.

2016 Château Lassègue Les Cadrans De Lassègue Bordeaux ($30)


The 2016 Bordeaux vintage
is excellent; this balanced red shows you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy
it. Think aromas of plum and blackberry with soft, palate-coating tannins.

2017 Querciabella Chianti Classico ($32)


Querciabella was one of the first estates to start farming biodynamically in Chianti Classico. Its 2017 vintage is full of tart berry flavors, with a forest-floor note that recalls a walk in the Tuscan hills.

2017 Melville Estate Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir ($38)


This beautifully aromatic red, with its layers of dark blue fruit and fine tannins, shows quite clearly why the Sta. Rita Hills appellation has become known as one of the best Pinot Noir regions in California. ($35 at wine.com)

White

2018 Tornatore Etna Bianco ($30) 


The Tornatore family has been making wine on Sicily’s Mount Etna since 1865, through wars, earthquakes, and yes, even volcanic eruptions, yet this wine’s balance of peach, tangerine, and toast notes seems effortless.

2019 Delille Cellars Chaleur Blanc ($35)


This Washington white is DeLille’s nod to the classic white Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Its sweet oak notes mingle with lemon cream and pineapple; elegantly made, it will also age beautifully in a cellar.

2018 Silverado Vineburg Vineyard Chardonnay ($40)


Napa Valley’s Silverado gets acclaim for its Cabernets, so this streamlined Chardonnay is a revelation. Bright lemon-cream flavors, vivid acidity, and a faint oak note make for an ideal holiday dinner white.

2019 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc ($42)


Grapefruit, lemongrass, quince—layers of flavor here are exquisitely balanced in a way that keeps you reaching for your glass again and again. No wonder it’s a California benchmark for this grape. ($42 at wine.com)

2018 Château Fuissé Pouilly-Fuissé Tête De Cuvée ($42)


For this creamy, elegant white, Antoine Vincent—the fifth generation of his family at this estate—blends fruit from over 20 vineyard sites surrounding the property’s 17th-century château. ($42 at wine.com)

Big-Bottle Splurges

Credit: Greg DuPree

This summer, I did a test. While vacationing in Maine with about two dozen in-laws, one night I brought two regular-size bottles of rosé to a cookout (the Miraval recommended at right, in fact). People drank them. The next night, I brought a magnum instead, and the reactions were immediate: “Oh my god!” “How cool!” “Go big or go home, right?” If you want to create some wine excitement at your holiday celebrations, these big bottles are the way to go.

NV Roederer Estate Brut ($53)

Roederer Estate’s refined brut has long been one of the best California sparkling wines, especially at the price—no real surprise, as it’s owned by the great Champagne producer Louis Roederer. ($53 at garyswine.com)

2019 Miraval Rosé ($60)


The crucial thing about this flower-petal pink, citrusy rosé is that it’s made by the Perrin family, coproprietors of Château de Beaucastel and among the Rhône Valley’s best winemakers. ($60 at wine.com)

2015 Castello Di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva
 ($65)

Given this wine’s firm structure, decant it to reveal the intense black cherry fruit, but return it to the bottle so you don’t lose that big-bottle awe. ($65 at klwines.com)

2016 Trefethen Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($115)

Trefethen’s style leans away from the super-rich, with more red fruit (red cherry, red currant) and a supple structure that makes it an ideal red for the Thanksgiving table. ($115 at trefethan.com)

2018 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($60)

The far Sonoma Coast is a source for many of California’s top Pinots. This suave red has plenty of wild berry fruit, but the coastal influence keeps it focused and bright. ($60 for standard size at bountyhunterwine.com)

NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve ($60)

Billecart-Salmon is one of the few top Champagne houses that’s still family-owned. Their lovely nonvintage brut is pale gold in hue, with pear-citrus notes and fine, elegant bubbles. ($60 for standard size at wine.com)

2018 Schloss Johannisberg Silberlack Riesling ($70)

German Riesling magnums are particularly striking, and this wine is also gorgeous: stony and dry, with a scent of white flowers and green apples. ($70 for standard size at winechateau.com)