Wine from Grippy Tannins whose owner recommends having a chenin blanc, syrah and port on hand for Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy of Grippy Tannins

I love cranberry-based cocktails, but Thanksgiving also provides the opportunity to engage in some creative wine pairing. I asked three Maine wine bars what to serve with the holiday meal. Prices listed below are the cost of buying the wine to go at the establishment that recommended it.

Lindsey Murray, owner of Grippy Tannins in Portland, suggests a white, a red and/or a port. For whites, she recommends either a $17 Balestri Valda Soave Classico 2019 from Veneto, Italy, or a $30 Swerwer chenin blanc from Swartland, South Africa.  Both options go well with roast turkey and stuffing and have an acidity that complements cranberry compote. The chenin blanc also goes well with apple pie.

For reds, Murray proposes either a $19 Anton Bauer Zweigelt from Wagram, Austria, or a $24 Terre Rouge syrah from the Sierra Foothills in California. The Zweigelt, a great alternative to pinot noir or gamay, finishes with a subtle spiciness that pairs perfectly with traditional Thanksgiving herbs. The syrah also goes well with rosemary, sage, and thyme, and its soft tannins make it easy to sip throughout the meal.

To round out the meal, Murray likes a $26 Warre’s Otima 10 year tawny port. The hint of brown sugar and hazelnut on its long elegant finish goes beautifully with pumpkin pie.

Selections from Lorne Wine in Biddeford, where the owners recommend a wine from the cider family to go with the Thanksgiving meal. Photo courtesy of Lorne Wine

Erin Sheehan and Carson James, owners of Lorne Wine in Biddeford, suggest a wine from the cider family, a red blend and/or a sparkling wine. Since Thanksgiving dinner is more of a marathon than a sprint, their preferences lean toward lower-ABV (alcohol by volume) selections and wines that have bright acidity to balance out the filling dishes and rich sauces.

Sheehan and James note that the best ciders in the world are as complex, varied and food-friendly as the best wines. Their Thanksgiving recommendation is the $17 Clos des Citots Poiré de Normandie, a perry. Made from pears using the same methods applied in cider-making, a perry can take you from the aperitif all the way through a cheese course.


For red, they propose a $20 Raul Pérez Bierzo Ultreia St. Jacques 2018, a Spanish mencia-based blend that brings together everything they love about Beaujolais and Rhone reds. It’s light, juicy and elegant, and pairs particularly well with the herbal, vegetable-based dishes on the Thanksgiving table.

For people who want to splash out with a great bottle of bubbly, Sheehan and James suggest a $48 Noel Bazin Blanc de Blancs Brut L’Unanime, an absolute crowd-pleaser that is wonderful on its own before the meal or as the primary beverage throughout the meal.

Colleen Caron and Robert Sharpe, staff at Northern Union Restaurant and Wine Bar in Ogunquit, provided two different approaches. For people who want to go with just one option, they recommend a $48 Louis de Grenelle, a sparkling rosé from Saumur, France.

For people who prefer to serve multiple wines, they suggest a white, a red and a dessert wine.  For the white, they like a $55 Gunther Steinmetz Brauneberger Juffer Kabinett Riesling, a dry (not sweet) German riesling with a crisp finish and a lower ABV. For the red, they recommend a $38 Chateau de Pizay Morgon, a light-bodied alternative to pinot noir.

For dessert, Caron and Sharpe love a $112 Henriques & Henriques Boal Single Harvest Madeira, which has nutty notes that go well with pecan or sweet potato pie. As a bonus reason to serve this wine on Thanksgiving, they said, the signing of the Declaration of Independence was toasted using Madeira.

Regardless of which wine(s) you pair with your holiday meal, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

Have a madeira with dessert, and these other wines from Northern Union Restaurant and Wine Bar in Ogunquit with the rest of your meal. Photo courtesy of Northern Union Restaurant and Wine Bar

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