With thanks for good wine

As families across Raleigh gather this month, many will raise a glass to toast the season of thanks. But while we can all use recipes to help plan the meal, how do we pick the wine?  Walter asked two local experts for their recommendations. We asked for a white, a red, and a sparkling, at prices to suit a variety of budgets.

Taylor’s Wine Shop, a North Raleigh institution for 30 years, is known for its casual flair. “Fine wine – live bait” isn’t a sign in the window of many wine merchants, but it works for Taylor’s. You can also fill up your tank outside, because Taylor’s is a BP gas station as well. Cory Lyerly,

Taylor’s wine manager, recommends “thinking outside the box” when choosing wines to accompany a meal that’s usually stays pretty well inside the lines.

Taylor’s Wine Shop is at 10005 Six Forks Rd. For more information, go to TaylorsWineShop.com.  


The Raleigh Wine Shop, a Glenwood South destination for downtown wine lovers, caters to both connoisseurs and neophytes. The store also sells “provisions” like olive oil, salami, chocolate, and cheese. It was named one of America’s “best new places to drink wine” by Food & Wine. Co-founder Seth Hoffman suggests “avoiding the temptation to try and find the perfect wine to pair with the cornucopia of flavors you’ll find spread across the table” at Thanksgiving. The flavors, he says, “are simply too diverse.” Instead, Hoffman suggests focusing on wine with “versatility.”

Raleigh Wine Shop is at 126 Glenwood Ave. For more information, go to TheRaleighWineShop.com. 

The Sparklers 


RWS: NV Lini Oreste & Figli “Lini 910 Labrusca” Rosso, Emilia-Romagna, Italy ($13.99) “This plump, juicy,” red sparkling wine “is the beverage of choice for the discerning palates that dine in the gustatory capital of Italy – Emilia-Romagna,” says Hoffman. “This effervescent wine stands up to central Italy’s vast array of food flavors and styles,” he says, and is up to the task of the Thanksgiving table.

Taylor’s: Sant’Evasio Brachetto d’Acqui, Piedmont, Italy ($17) “This frizzante (semi-sparkling) style red wine from Italy is a real crowd pleaser,” Lyerly says. “Loads of juicy plum and red berry fruit and noticeable sweetness that balances out spicy stuffings or overcooked and dried out turkeys.”


Taylor’s: Shingleback Sparkling Shiraz McLaren Vale, South Australia ($25) “Not many people have ever had a sparkling red wine, and at first your taste buds don’t know what to make of it,” Lyerly says. “It’s fruity yet dry, spicy yet cool. Soft mellow tannins make it a great pairing with duck, goose and turkey.”

RWS: Avinyo Rosato Reserva Cava, Catalonia, Penedes, Spain ($22.99) “The Cavas of Spain have long been a bastion for Champagne drinkers on a budget,” Hoffman says. “Crafted in the same labor-intensive method as true Champagne, the delicate aromas and flavors of red fruits, fresh herbs and dry finish of this sparkling rosé have enough body to pair with the heavier dishes, yet not overwhelm the more delicate ones.”


RWS: 2000 Billecart-Salmon “Cuvee Nicolas Francois” Brut, Champagne, France ($99) “These classic bubbles transition effortlessly from dish to dish at the varied Thanksgiving table,” Hoffman says. This “special dry and toasty cuvee” was first created in 1964 as a tribute to the founder of the estate, Nicolas Francois Billecart, and “is made only in the best vintages.”

Taylor’s: Dieboldt-Vallois Blanc de Blanc Cramant, France ($55) “For many people, there is no substitute…it’s got to be Champagne,” Lyerly says. Those from the tiny village of Cramant are slightly less carbonated. “The resulting wine has plenty of beautiful bubbles in the glass, but a richer, creamier texture and flavor than you would normally get from a nonvintage Champagne.”

The Whites


Taylor’s: Montinore “Borealis – The Northern Whites” Willamette Valley, Oregon ($16) This blend “shows the up-front peach, nectarine and slightly sweet flavors of Riesling, a hint of spiciness of Gewurztraminer, and refreshing acidity from pinot blanc,” Lyerly says.

RWS: Der Pollerhof Gruner Veltliner, Weinviertel, Austria ($13.99 per liter bottle) “Gruner is a wine noted for its ability to pair with a wide array of foods,” Hoffman says, “The sommelier’s ‘skeleton key,’ if you will.” He calls its “dry, balanced, fresh…a classic example of Austria’s signature white wine.”


RWS: Peter Lauer Fass 6 Riesling, Saar, Germany ($29.99) “Few wines are as versatile, and misunderstood” as Riesling, Hoffman says. “Powerful acidity and structure allow this wine to pair with almost any food you can throw at it, and the lower alcohol levels will allow you an extra glass.”

Taylor’s: Dupont-Fahn Bourgogne Aligote Burgundy, France ($24) “Here’s a wine guaranteed to get the wine conversation started,” Lyerly says, especially if your crowd “knows just enough about wine to be dangerous.” Aligote is one of the few white grapes allowed to be grown and labeled “Bourgogne” other than Chardonnay.  “Rich and creamy with notes of toast and the signature pecan nuttiness that distinguishes Aligote, this is a fantastic example of the varietal,” he says.


Taylor’s: Domaine Giraud Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Rhone Valley, France ($49) White Chateauneufs are “one of the few white wines whose layers and layers of flavors can actually match the complexity of the Thanksgiving table,” Lyerly says.

RWS: Michel Bouzereau “Les Grands Charrons” Meursault, Burgundy, France ($59.99) “A classically styled Chardonnay from one of the great wine making regions in the world,” Hoffman says. “Rich, full-bodied, dry…a perfect reminder of how great Burgundy can be, and that full-bodied white wines can pair just fine with meat.”

The Reds


RWS: Delas Ventoux, Rhone Valley, France ($11.99) This southern French blend “is a perfect match for herbed turkey, pork tenderloin, or lean cuts of beef,” Hoffman says. “Delas consistently delivers the versatility and value.”

Taylor’s: Matchbook Tempranillo Dunnigan Hills, California ($12) “Rioja wines are a somewhat classic Thanksgiving poultry pairing if you’re looking for a good red,” Lyerly says. “Tempranillo is the grape that Rioja is made from, but for an American holiday, let’s go American.”


Taylor’s: Renacer/Allegrini “Enamore” Red Mendoza, Argentina ($27) “The figgy, raisiny flavors of Italy’s Amarone wines are favorites of many folks at Thanksgiving,” Lyerly says, “but sadly the good ones start at about $40 and quickly escalate.  This is a malbec-based blend made in the traditional Amarone method and is an absolute steal.”

RWS: Four Vines “Biker” Zinfandel, Paso Robles, California ($24.99) Four Vines “is a classically American wine for the definitive American holiday,” Hoffman says. “Ripe, fresh fruit dominates without being over the top. Yes, you can find balanced Zinfandels, and the ‘Biker’ is one.”


RWS: Lioco Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, California ($44.99) “There are few wineries in the United States making wine as good as Lioco right now,” Hoffman says. “Their pinot noir is beautifully balanced red fruit, lean acidity, and light tannins. Few wines pair as naturally with lean meat like turkey.”

Taylor’s: Noon Family Wines “Eclipse” Red McLaren Vale, South Australia ($75) “This will appeal to those who like their big, bold reds no matter the food, time of year or occasion,” Lyerly says. It’s “a grenache-based blend that received a whopping 94 points in Parker’s Wine Advocate.”