A couple of times I’ve been the recipient of holiday gifts that were obviously picked off the pegboard display in the checkout aisle, as though the giver was waiting to pay for shampoo and then suddenly remembered, “oh, heck! It’s Dec. 24!” and just started plucking items within reach. Because why else do you end up with gifts of toothbrushes, yellow highlighters, lip balm, breath mints and luggage tags?
I often think buying wine the day before Thanksgiving is a lot like that. After great attention is paid to the stuffing (cornbread or not), the sides and, of course, the bird and pies, the light bulb about wine goes off and people hit the panic button.
But, there’s a solution for last-minute shoppers and that’s in the selection of rosés still available in stores, as we evolve our thinking about and drinking of rosé beyond summer. It’s a thoroughly democratic style of wine that deftly dances with most of what’s on the Thanksgiving table, from turkey to cranberry sauce. Here are a few easy picks that will please any palate that comes to your table. For this celebration of the American feast, I stayed stateside.
Ancient Peaks rosé 2020, Paso Robles. From Santa Margarita Ranch AVA, the southernmost vineyard region of Paso, this structured wine is produced from vines cultivated from five soils types, giving it good complexity along with the fresh grapefruit tang and tangerine layers. The herbal/anise lift makes this a win with turkey and stuffing.
Balletto 2020 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. Estate grown and bottled, this tart and savory medium-bodied wine expresses fresh grapefruit and tropical fruits. Good with garlicky sides.
Brendel “Young Leon” Frizzante rosé 2020, Napa Valley. Very dry organic wine made of 100% Grignolino, a “rustic” grape from Italy’s Piedmont region. Refreshing and bright, but not without substance, so you can take this from the pre-gaming nuts dish to the dinner table.
Epoch rosé 2020, Paso Robles Willow Creek District. A blend of 74% Mourvedre, 14% Syrah, 12% Grenache presented in a shapely bottle for the holiday table. Red-fruit driven, dry and fresh, it can stand up through apertifs and courses.
Gundlach Bundschu Tempranillo rosé 2020, Yolo and Sonoma valleys. A “special collaboration” after the history fire season of 2019, this is 85%-driven by fruit from the Yolo Valley. Tart rhubarb and strawberry shine, accompanied by a little earthy note. This is a terrific food wine with depth to it.
Onx “Indie” rosé 2019, Paso Robles. Made from Tempranillo, this is an earthy, savory and tangy wine expressing small intense red fruits, currant, strawberry and raspberry, which underline but don’t drive the flavor.
Ram’s Gate rosé 2020, Sonoma. Pithy pink grapefruit and high acid are the players here, giving over to a tasty bitter rhubarb bite (arugula lovers, this wine is for you!) More savory than fruity, it’s a bit of an intellectual wine and really dynamic for a rosé. Once it opens, it’s more floral and red fruit; less tart.
Stephan Vineyards, “L’Adventure” rosé 2020, Willow Creek District, Paso Robles. A blend of estate-grown “GSM” grapes with a bit of Graciano and Petit Verdot. Light salmon/copper color, savory and elevated by anise and licorice tones. I want this with the charred, roasted end of the ham.
Tablas Creek “Dianthus” 2020, Paso Robles, Delaida District. Darker pink in hue with an herbal nose, this blend of southern French grapes features dried red-fruit character. Very dry with good acid. This is a venture from the Rhône’s esteemed Perrin Family.
Adelsheim rosé 2020, Willamette Valley. This lightly nutty, earthy medium-bodied wine is laced with fresh menthol, strawberry and peach, Sounds summery, but has a lot of structure; a good match with cranberry sauce.
ERATH Pinot Noir of rosé, Dundee Hills. A deeper rosé whose hue matches the earthier, savory tone of this wine, which features direct hits of strawberry and a round and creamy mouthfeel. Plays nice with anything on the table.
Brick House “Intentional” rosé of Pinot Noir 2020, Willamette Valley. Ribbon Ridge, A certified biodynamic (Demeter) wine, this has the earthy, funky nose you’d expect. The reduction blows off after a bit and the resulting wine has weight and a more savory character with garden herbs (sage) and vegetables. A winner with turkey and stuffing.
Utopia rosé Pinot Noir “Bliss,” 2018, Ribbon Ridge, Dundee. Medium- to full-bodied, creamy mouthfeel with lacings of wild raspberry and savory tones from a quality small producer.
Winter’s Hill rosé of Pinot Noir, 2020, Dundee Hills. An earthy, structured wine with concentrated fruit that can stand up to complex dishes.
Biltmore Reserve rosé 2019, North Carolina. From the Vanderbilt estate. This is a slightly off-dry wine driven by red berries and tropical fruit (guava) and a hint of spice. Its slightly glycerol frutti-tuttiness puts this in the dessert course.
Fall Creek Grenache rosé 2020, Texas Hill Country. 100% Texas grapes from a legacy producer in Texas. Citrus flowers, light and fresh tart strawberry. Savory flavors elevated by bright anise. Light copper color.
Altered Dimension rosé, Columbia Valley. Groovy, wavy etched designed evoking ‘70s psychedelic. Fresh and Bright, pink grapefruit and strawberry. Fun, lively and a great starter wine.
H3 2019 rosé, Horse Heaven Hills. Very dry, with fresh watermelon, summer raspberries, and a sharp cherry edge. Another great diplomat through all the courses.
Division Villages 2020 rosé of Gamy Noir “L’Avoiron,” Columbia Valley. Modeled after “village wines” in France (the winemakers “staged” in France), this features savory, mature red fruits, driven by stewed strawberry compote. A heavier style of wine that can stand up to lots of goopy sides.