Columns by John

John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly


This year we really do have a lot for which to be thankful. First and foremost, the insidious pandemic that has haunted us all for the past two years seems to be under control, and we’ll now be able to join our friends and family for Thanksgiving dinner. And if you love food and wine, there’s another good reason to be thankful because we’re about to enter a period full of holiday celebrations that begin next Thursday and continue right through the New Year.

As a matter of fact, we will purchase and consume more good wine and food during the next six weeks than we have for the previous ten months. The only people happier than us will be the business owners of health clubs, diet centers and clothing alteration shops who depend on first quarter sales to survive for the rest of the year.

I know I’ve said this before, but of all the upcoming celebrations, my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving! That’s because the Thanksgiving meal features a wide variety of foods that can accommodate just about any red, white, rose or sparkling wine. And it all starts with the turkey.

Turkey is blessed with meat that has a variety of flavors, colors and textures which present opportunities for us to try with a variety of different wines. And, when you add the dishes that traditionally accompany Thanksgiving dinner, things really get interesting. So today I’m going to present you with a typical Thanksgiving menu accompanied with wines that pair seamlessly with each course. Here goes.

The Aperitif
In our home, the first bottle we uncork for Thanksgiving is a sparkling wine to toast each other and the holiday. My suggestions for your Thanksgiving toast are one of these effervescent sippers: Iron Horse Brut; Segura Viudas Brut Reserva; Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir Rose; Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve Champagne; and Pierre Sparr Cremant d’Alsace Brut Reserve.



Thanksgiving Starters
Appetizer goodies such as deviled eggs, smoked salmon, cocktail meatballs, veggies and dip or even bacon wrapped scallops can go with just about any dry and/or slightly sweet wine. My favorite is always Beaujolais Nouveau which is released on the third Thursday of November each year. Beaujolais Nouveau is always fresh and full of bright red fruit flavors. Try the 2021 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau with your starters. Alternative wines to consider: Trimbach Pinot Gris and d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab (viognier and marsanne) both whites; and Grange Philippe ”Gipsy” Rose’.


Main Course -One
Both the traditional oven-roasted and/or deep-fried turkey do equally well with medium-bodied red or white wines. My favorite white wines for these two cooking methods are ones from Bordeaux which are combinations of sauvignon blanc and semillon. These are crisp and dry whites that have herbal and mineral flavors. Try Chateau Graville Lacoste or Chateau Villa Bel-Air. Italian reds such as Banfi Brunello di Montalcino or the Chianti Classico Riserva from Castello di Bossi also pair well with oven-roasted or fried turkeys.

Main Course – Two
Since many of you will smoke or grill your turkey this Thanksgiving and accompany it with more full-flavored dressings (like cornbread and chorizo), I’m providing you with medium to full-bodied red wine suggestions that will pair better with the “national bird” prepared using these cooking methods. My first choice is Oregon pinot noir. Try the pinot noir from either Domaine Drouhin or St. Innocent. In addition, the zinfandel-based wines from Ridge Vineyards in California are also exceptional accompaniments to smoked or grilled turkey. Two of my favorites are Ridge Geyserville and Ridge Lytton Springs.

In our home, Thanksgiving dessert is always pumpkin or pecan pie (or both) with a dollop of whipped crème on top. You won’t go wrong with either of these two accompanying dessert wines: Chateau St. Jean Late Harvest Riesling from Sonoma County or G.D. Vajra Moscato d’Asti from Italy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

John Brown is also a novelist. His latest book is “Augie’s World” which is a sequel to his debut novel, Augie’s War. You can find out more about his novels at

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