Americans drink more wine on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. Maybe it's because a couple of glasses take the edge off awkward family interactions, or maybe, as Andre Simon claimed, "wine makes every table more elegant." But don't be mistaken: You won't need expensive bottles to create that elegance. In fact, Slate recently made a case for cheap vino -- a mighty convincing one at that.
Unless you're serving sommeliers and wine critics, you don't need to go for broke. Let your delicious meal speak for itself, and pair it with these tasty organic wines that'll enliven your table without killing your bank account.
Award-winning wine blogger Dr. Debs calls Snoqualmie Vineyards' 2009 "Naked" Chardonnay "beautifully balanced" with clean mineral flavors and notes of apples and lemon peel. Unlike many Chardonnays, it's fermented in stainless steel, not oak -- and it's an amazing bargain at $13 a bottle.
Domaine Eugene Meyer in Alsace has been making wine since the 1600s with organically-grown grapes. Their vegan-friendly Riesling is listed in the Organic Wine Company's "Outstanding Wines" for this season. The winemaker describes it as having a "delicate fruitiness," citrus nose and suggestion of elderflower. The 2010 is listed at $24; other vintages may be cheaper still.
Pinot Noir is the traditional choice for Thanksgiving, so I'm giving you two choices. The first is Cooper Mountain Winery's 2009 Pinot Noir "Reserve" ($24), an organic and biodynamic wine with dark fruit and spice flavors. Dr. Debs described the 2006 vintage as "cheerful," "pure," "intense" and "lively." For an even more intense flavor, try Domaine Carneros' "Avant Garde" Pinot Noir ($24), which boasts black cherry and cranberry flavors, spices, orange peel and oak. The catch: It's only available at the winery in Napa.
For something just a smidge different, try Terlato & Chapoutier's Shiraz-Viognier blend, an Australian-Californian mashup with a dark earthiness surrounding berry flavors. It consistently scores well in Wine Spectator, but you can get the 2008 for about $15.
When it comes to holiday bubbles, look no further than Domaine Carneros' Brut Cuvee ($20-26), which has been called to as the best sparkling wine in America. Yes, it's organic -- and despite its low price, it may just be the definition of a California "champagne."