What to sip this Thanksgiving, according to local experts

From craft beer to local vintages of wine, here’s what shop owners and connoisseurs in Northern Virginia recommend for this year’s turkey dinner.

wine above thanksgiving dinner
© saksit / stock.adobe.com

While making plans for Thanksgiving can sometimes be challenging, hosts and guests alike never have to put too much thought into what will be on the menu each year. There’s bound to be a roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce, with the occasional addition of a few, family favorites that don’t fit the classic spread. 

Yet that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for creativity, specifically when it comes to the sips of the evening. From appetizer dishes to the main course, it’s important to keep the flavors balanced and bold with help from vintages for the wine lover and craft beer for the beer-enthusiast. 

Before setting out to make complicated, seasonal cocktails for all your guests, consider these local, international and craft beers suggested by three NoVA-based experts in the field. 

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Richard Carson, Specialist of Fine Wine – Arrowine & Cheese

“We generally see more interest in whites for Thanksgiving, followed by reds and even sometimes rosé can be great with the multitude of flavors on our tables,” says Carson of what people ask for in Arrowine & Cheese come November. 

Local Whites
Sauvignon Blanc from Walsh Family Wine
Petit Manseng from Glen Manor

“We carry the 2018 Dry Petit Manseng and the 2015 Rapheus, which is a late harvest ideal to pair with any traditional desserts.”

Local Reds
2017 Walsh Family Wine Russ Mountain Merlot
Norton 2017 Paradise Springs Winery

While the shop definitely sells more wine than beer for the family-focused holiday, Carson’s favorite local craft beers for the event are Port City Brewing’s Optimal Wit and Session IPA Ways & Means, as well as Rocket Frog Brewing Company’s Munich-style lager, Helleanor

“At my dinner table, the first dinner wine will be the new sparkling, 2015 White Spark Blanc de Blancs, from Casanel in Leesburg, then Linden’s 2017 Village Chardonnay, followed by a California pinot noir and then Glen Manor’s 2015 Rapheus for dessert. And I’m sure we will have rosé with hors d’oeuvres either from Walsh or Linden.  

Keep an eye on the store come Christmas and New Year’s, as the shop will be remodeling from the end of Thanksgiving until Thursday, Dec. 5. When it reopens, there will be a new look, more beer selections and a sandwich selection to be debuted in 2020. 

Liz Mehen, Wine Manager – Norm’s Beer and Wine

“We are definitely pushing a lot of pino noirs of course, you know, lighter stuff that doesn’t have big, overpowering elements but enough flavor to balance with the food,” says Mehen of the current selection at Norm’s Beer and Wine. 

According to Mehen, the best reds to drink with heavy foods consumed on Thanksgiving are going to be lighter bodied, but still have plenty of acidic flavor. For those who won’t stray away from bolder, bigger reds, Mehen suggests a zinfandel blend.

For whites, Mehen recommends anything with a taste that adds to what’s on the table, such as the Italian pinot grigio currently on the shop’s shelf, as well as the riesling grape variety.

When asked what beer is sold the most at Norm’s, Mehen replies, “Everybody wants beer at our store and I think people generally just get what they like, which is hard to break down.”

As for what would be best paired with the Thanksgiving feast, the best option would be a lager, brown ale or amber, according to Mehen.

Chris Marro, Retail Manager – Screwtop Wine Bar

“This entire month we are featuring wines for Thanksgiving in our monthly wine club meeting, which then translates at the store,” says Marro. 

Here’s what Screwtop has been serving up all month long in preparation for this week’s affair.

  • Michel Fonne Pinot Gris 2016 from Alsace, France
  • Klee Pinot Noir 2018 from Williamette Valley, Oregon
  • Shea Pinor Noir 2015 from Williamette Valley, Oregon
  • Poseidon Pinot Noir 2017 from Carneros, California

“As far as beer, we actually have one new one from Peak Organic Brewing Co. called Sweet Tarts. It’s a cranberry sour ale that goes great with appetizers for the holiday.”

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