The turkey is brining, the pies are in the oven. Oops! You forgot to pick up the wine.

What to do? We asked several Maine wineries which of their wines they would recommend serving with Thanksgiving dinner and why. We realize not everyone loves wine, so we got some suggestions for hard cider and beer as well.

So don’t panic. Just scan these possibilities and see what appeals. They’re all available in the Portland area.

Choosing a Maine-made beverage celebrates more than Thanksgiving. It shows just how far Maine has come in 30 years. In the late 1980s, Maine had just one winery that made fruit wine. The state had no other wineries, meaderies, no craft brewery scene, or distilleries of its own. Today there’s a wealth of options. So when you serve a Maine-made beverage with your turkey, you’re celebrating Maine along with the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!



If your family gives you grief for waiting so long to pick up the wine, tell them – as if you’d planned it all along – that you were just waiting for the Thanksgiving release of Cellardoor’s Bulles Rosé, a sparkling estate wine with a tart cranberry note, according to Rebekah Messer, manager of Cellardoor’s Portland tasting room. Celebratory bubbles and cranberry – what could be more Thanksgiving-like?

Cellardoor Winery, Lincolnville

The grapes for this wine – a blend of Marquette, Frontenac gris, Frontenac blanc and Petite Pearl – are usually 100 percent estate-grown, which means they’re grown in vineyards owned or controlled by the winery, according to winemaker CC Peet. But this year 23.5 percent of the grapes were brought in from Earth Dharma Farm in Jackson, an organic farm 45 minutes north of Cellardoor’s vineyard. It’s no longer an estate-grown wine, but it is, Peet proudly points out, “100 percent Maine-grown.”

Bulles Rosé, Peet says, is extra dry and crisp, and goes well Thanksgiving flavors such as sage and cranberry sauce without overwhelming them.

“How can you not want a little bubbles?” Peet said. “You’re celebrating family. You’re giving thanks for everything.”

If, however, you aren’t into bubbles, or would like something a little sweeter, the owner of Cellardoor, Bettina Doulton, recommends the Cellardoor Winery 2014 Chenin Blanc.

PRICE: Bulles Rosé $40; Chenin Blanc $17


WHERE TO BUY: Cellardoor Winery tasting room at Thompson’s Point, Portland; or check the Wine Finder at for a retail location near you.

Winterport Winery, Winterport


Winterport Winery is known mostly for its fruit wines, which are meant to be consumed young and not aged in a wine cellar for years. (Federal law does not allow wineries that produce fruit wines to vintage date their bottles.)

For the main event – the turkey dinner – Joan Anderson suggests trying the winery’s simply named Cranberry Wine, which has been raking in awards since 2005, “instead of the jellied stuff.”

Anderson, who owns Winterport Winery with her husband, Michael, says the wine, which is made with Maine cranberries, has “a nice tartness. It really balances that rich food.”

Each bottle contains about 520 cranberries. A standard batch of 480 gallons contains more than 1.2 million cranberries.


For dessert, Anderson suggests a bottle of The Flying Dutchman, a blackberry wine fortified with grape brandy and finished in a port style. It pairs well with chocolate, so would go well with a chocolate-pecan pie.

“It’s going to really be able to stand up to the sweeter parts of dessert, but yet it also could be dessert by itself,” Anderson said.

Portersfield Cider, Pownal

PRICE: Cranberry Wine $15.99; The Flying Dutchman $20

WHERE TO BUY: Both wines are available in the Portland area at Maine’s Pantry in Portland; Market Basket in Biddeford; Shaws at Mill Creek in South Portland, Northgate in Portland, and in Falmouth, Westbrook, Saco and Sanford.

Also, Whole Foods, RSVP Discount Beverage, Free Range Fish & Lobster, and Bow St. Beverage (all in Portland) sell the Cranberry Wine, while Hannaford stores in South Portland, Falmouth, Saco, Yarmouth, and the Forest Ave. Store in Portland sell The Flying Dutchman.



If you’ve invited guests who aren’t wine drinkers, perhaps they’ll enjoy local hard cider. David Buchanan, owner of Portersfield Cider, makes small batches of cider from heritage apples, just like Mainers did years ago. He says any of his lightly sparkling ciders would pair well with a Thanksgiving meal, just as most dry white wines would.

“My ciders are typically dry, and so they’re intended to pair with a meal,” Buchanan said. “I think a lot of people drink cider at a bar and think of it as a sweeter drink.”

Small-batch ciders are more complex and full-bodied than sweeter ciders. They have a little acidity, which can cut through the buttery, creamy dishes that are the norm on the holiday.

Buchanan sells only two of his ciders off the farm. Aronia is made from a blend of apples and juice, itself made from foraged or cultivated elderberries and aronia. Original Dry is made from a blend of apples including Baldwin, Northern Spy and Jonagold. Both ciders are fermented naturally with wild and cultivated yeasts.

PRICE: $13.89 for 750 ml bottles of Aronia and Original Dry

WHERE TO BUY: Aronia and Original Dry are sold at the Portland Food Co-op. Or drive out to the Portersfield orchard, 255 Elmwood Road, Pownal, where you can taste and purchase any of Buchanan’s ciders.



Eric Michaud, owner of Liquid Riot, was on a buying trip in France – lucky guy – when we tried to contact him, but took the time to email us about his company’s “Thanksgiving ale.” This slightly sour ale is called The Killing – a name that’s kind of weird for Thanksgiving, unless you have a really dark view of the holiday.

“This is not your typical beer,” Michaud said in an email. “It’s fruity and dry, and the bonus is its color. We used 200 pounds of fresh cranberries to give it an awesome blood red hue. Also, for anyone who says they don’t drink sour beers, or people who have never tried a sour, they really need to try The Killing. It is light, refreshing and tart.”

Liquid Riot Bottling Company, Portland

Apparently Liquid Riot’s head brewer replaces the water in his recipe for cranberry relish with The Killing, so try cooking with it, too.

The Killing is served on tap only, so if you want it for your Thanksgiving table, you’ll have to make your way to Liquid Riot at 250 Commercial St. in Portland to order 32-ounce crowlers at the bar to go.

If a slightly sour beer doesn’t appeal to you, Michaud also recommends his 1911 Extra Brut IPA, a Champagne-inspired ale that he says is “clean, crisp, light and bone dry.” It was named after the Champagne Riots of 1911 in France, when growers fought over which grapes, from which regions, could be used to make sparkling wine marketed as Champagne. (The riot in Liquid Riot’s name is an homage to Portland’s Rum Riot of 1855.)


“1911 features tropical, piney hop notes and a Champagne-like finish,” he said. “We double dry hop 1911 using Galaxy, Simcoe and Citra hops, which gives it really intense flavor and aroma. 1911 is complementary to everything on the Thanksgiving table.”

PRICE: The Killing sells for $13 per crowler. The 1911 ale sells for $13 for a four-pack.

WHERE TO BUY: Liquid Riot Bottling Company, 250 Commercial St., Portland.


Mead, an ancient honey wine, offers something a little different on a special occasion. Ben Alexander, owner of Maine Mead Works in Portland, says among the nearly one dozen flavors his company makes, he recommends HoneyMaker Apple Cyser for the Thanksgiving table. The mead is batch-fermented with a Champagne yeast, which lends it a crisp, refreshing characteristic that makes it great for pairing with food, Alexander said. Its balanced, fruity flavor comes from McIntosh apples harvested this season at Ricker Hill Farm in Turner.

PRICE: $19


WHERE TO BUY: Maine Mead Works tasting room, 51 Washington Ave., Portland; Kennebunk tasting room, 8 Western Ave.

Prospect Hill Winery, Lebanon


Anita and Richard Carle, owners of Prospect Winery, 318 Orrills Hill Road, say their choice for Thanksgiving dinner is their Prospect Hill Red, a blend of their Maréchal Foch and Frontenac grapes.

“The wine features dark berry and black currant tastes, along with a smooth finish,” Anita Carle said. “Because it is has bright fruit flavors, it is a match with savory foods and the vegetables associated with Thanksgiving dinner. It pairs well with desserts too, especially chocolate.”

PRICE: $16.35

WHERE TO BUY: Prospect Hill Red is available in the Portland area at the Portland Food Co-op, On the Vine Marketplace in Scarborough, Downeast Wine Imports in Kennebunk and Tully’s in Wells.



Owners Keith and Constance Bodine recommend their Sparkling Cranberry Apple Wine, made with Maine cranberries grown in Calais and Machias and apples grown in midcoast Maine. Constance Bodine says they were inspired by Blacksmiths Sparkling Cranberry Wine, a wine that used to be made in South Casco, that they served at their own Thanksgiving dinner in the past. Sweetgrass also makes four dessert wines – two port-like wines, Cranberry Smash and Blueberry Smash, as well as two liqueurs, Maple Smash and Rhubarb Smash.

Sweetgrass Winery & Distillery, Union

“I love entertaining with dessert wines, and have found an aperitif glass of dessert wine and a square of dark chocolate the most elegant way to end a dinner,” Constance Bodine said. “When we are hosting a cocktail party instead of the big dinner at Thanksgiving, I always serve a dessert wine paired with Maine cheese.”

PRICE: Sparkling Cranberry Apple Wine, $17; Cranberry Smash and Blueberry Smash, $16; Rhubarb Smash, $21.49

WHERE TO BUY: Tasting rooms at 324 Fore St. in Portland, and at Sweetgrass Winery & Distillery in Union, 347 Carroll Road.



White wine is the traditional pairing for poultry, but Holly Savage wants you to try red instead.

Savage Oakes’ Ruffed Grouse is made with all Maine-grown grapes – two French hybrids – Leon Millot and Maréchal Foch – and a Minnesota variety, St. Croix.

“They’re bright cherry, currant flavors,” she said. “It’s juicy, but not sweet. It won’t overpower the flavor of the turkey. It’s not that heavy a red. It complements some of those savory flavors you have with Thanksgiving.”

Why is it called Ruffed Grouse? The name came out of a conversation Savage and her husband, Elmer, had with friends who hunt up north. They told the couple that the wine would taste great with ruffed grouse and other game – like wild turkey, perhaps?

PRICE: $17.99

WHERE TO BUY: Maine Pantry and RSVP, both in Portland.


Tree Spirits of Maine, Oakland


Bruce Olson, owner of Tree Spirits of Maine, is probably best known for his Absinthe Verte and his sparkling fruit wines. But when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, he says just one of his wines really stands out – Maple Storm, a maple wine fortified with maple brandy; it makes a great after-dinner drink, he said. Tree Spirits gets its maple syrup from the Bacon Farm in Sidney. Olson ferments the syrup and water – there is no fruit in the mix – to make the maple wine, then distills that into a maple brandy. The Maple Storm is a blend of the wine and brandy.

PRICE: $16.99

WHERE TO BUY: Maine Pantry in Portland or Bow St. Market in Freeport.

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

Twitter: MeredithGoad

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