What To Drink On Thanksgiving? Montepulciano, Barbera d’Alba or Pinot Nero from Oltrepo’ Pavese

I love Thanksgiving. It’s actually my favorite holiday of the year. Not just for the food but mostly for the chance to see relatives I rarely visit with and to see how big my extended family has become. Like everyone else who loves wine, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about what I might like to bring and to drink on Thanksgiving. Traditional wisdom has it that Pinot Nero goes very well with Turkey. I tend to agree and am going to bring a bottle of Pinot Nero from the Oltrepo’ Pavese, a region on the border between Lombardy and Piedmont which has a long tradtion of growing Pinot Nero. It’s a little more earthy and rustic than Pinot Noir from Oregon and certainly from Burgundy but delicious nonetheless.

I will also bring a wine from my friend Susanna Crociani. She makes wines in Montepulciano in Tuscany. I may bring one of the wines she has dedicated to her brother Giorgio who passed away at the untimely age of 50 in 2007. The wine called Il Segreto di Giorgio is one of my favorites and will pair very nicely with Turkey. I can’t tell you what the secret is though.

I am also going to bring a Barbera d’Alba. I have been rediscovering this grape of late. When I lived in Italy, I shunned it and assiduously avoided it. Oddly enough, this past week I was in Italy and went to a Barolo/Barbera tasting with friends. Most of them avoided the Barbera. Perhaps it was something about the proximity of 25 Barolo Producers with 2-3 Barolos which you can taste for 10 euros that put everyone off, but that said, the Barbera was neglected. This time though, not by me.

I find that Barbera has both enough fruit and structure to pair well with foods. Its acidity, when it is well made, is also an excellent counterpoint to some of the richer foods that will grace our Thanksgiving table.

I’d love to know what other people are having or have had for their Thanksgiving feast. Drop me a note and let me know so I can add to my own list for next year. I’d love to have Thanksgiving once a month but I think I’d have to get a whole new wardrobe…

Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. we had Cremant de Bourgogne, Mosel Riesling, olod Hermitage, old Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo riserva and some Umbrian passito….

    • AC,
      Sounds delicious. I don’t drink enough rieslings or old Hermitage. I do love passito though :). See you soon hopefully, SG

  2. I would suggest a Fino Sherry or Cava, to start with… a good Rioja with the Turkey, and end-up with a Montilla PX.

    A different point of view

    Have fun!


    • Different but interesting choices. I am a big cava and sherry fan. I would probably not have chosen a Rioja to pair with Turkey but maybe a different Spanish wine with some Garnacha could do the trick. Thanks for stopping by Esteban.

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