10 Wines Under $15 for Thanksgiving Dinner

by Jenny Meacham, Shoestring Magazine
November 20, 2009 - 7:51pm

Many people are concerned about affording Thanksgiving this year, and between the packed fridge and the overflowing pantry, there's still a bar that needs stocking before relatives and nit-picky in-laws arrive. But, gathering steam and supplies (read: sedatives) for this most gluttonous of holidays can sometimes be difficult mentally, physically, and financially — which is where Shoestring comes in.

Whether you are a traditionalist, a vegetarian, a red-blooded meat-eater or a sucker for seafood, this comprehensive list of Thanksgiving wines pleases both the palate and your piggy-bank, and covers all your bases: four whites; four reds; a sparkling and a port.

If you're unable to find these labels exactly, don't fret: the wine consultant at your local store should be able to suggest alternatives for your meal and budget if you give them these suggestions as a jumping off point.

Non-Vintage Gruet Brut, $14
The famous Champagne family of Gruet did us all a favor by opening up shop in New Mexico with the goal of producing affordable and fabulous sparkling wines at everyday prices. And that they did! Using the traditional (and very labor intensive) methods of producing Champagne, they are now churning out sparkling wines with tiny, persistent bubbles, strong acidity, and just enough toasty notes to taste like the real thing for just $14. Be sure to save some for day-after mimosas when the festivities have taken their toll. Available at most Trader Joe's stores.

Cono Sur Gewürztraminer, $12
This Chilean treasure has the perfect flavor profile to work with all components of your holiday meal -- and priced at just $12 to boot. With notes of flowers, peach, and ginger, this full-bodied, slightly sweet white is the perfect complement to heavier white meat, such as turkey, but is bold enough to hold its own with ham, too. The spicy sweetness also brings out the best in sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. Available at WineZap.com.

Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone Blanc, $10 icon
When people think of the Rhone, they usually think of red wine, but this region produces fabulous whites at bargain prices. At just $10, Perrin Reserve Cote Du Rhone white — a blend of grenache blanc, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussane — delivers all the fruit and mouth-filling roundness you need for your turkey dinner but without putting a dent in your budget. If yours is a vegetarian celebration, offer this wine with a seasonal roasted butternut squash or cream of parsnip soup.  Available at Wine.com.

Wild Pig Viognier, $9
In my family, a special occasion always involves crustaceans or shellfish in some fashion. For those who share our enthusiasm for seafood, it's critical to have at least one wine that works with oysters on the half shell as well as more traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Wild Pig Viognier has the characteristics of apple and pear, as well as a crisp, stony finish, making it just the right wine to bridge the gap between the raw bar and the main course of poultry. Available at WineRX.com or Vinquire.com.

Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes, $14 icon
In the male-dominated wine industry of Argentina, Susana Balbo, the first female Argentine winemaker, is showing them how it's done! With excellent offerings for around $14, Crios wines are always a solid choice. Notes of melon, pear, and green apple plus plenty of stone fruit flavors allow this full-bodied white to hold up to the succulence of the turkey without overpowering it. Available at Wine.com.

Trapiche Pinot Noir, $10
Another steal from South American, this $10 Argentine pinot noir has all the red fruit and earthy flavors you could dream of for a Thanksgiving meal. Whether you fancy turkey, ham, or vegetarian shepherd's pie for your celebration, Trapiche's wine will enhance the flavors — and hopefully the conversation, as well. Available at BinEndsWine.com.

Montpellier Syrah, $10
Imagine the smell of a blackberry cobbler baking in the oven. That's essentially what you get in a glass from this smooth, medium-bodied Syrah cashing in at just $10 a bottle. For those who like bigger reds with most any meal, this will certainly do the job for roasted turkey — especially with gravy or cranberry sauce — and is a homerun with ham. Available at WineRX.com.

Peirano Estate Vineyards Zinfandel, $12
Rumor has it that zinfandel is indigenous to America. True or not, we certainly produce the most, and the highest quality, zinfandels out there. So, in the spirit of the holiday, why not include one at your table? Peirano Estate Zinfandel from Lodi has jammy, berry fruit flavors, as well as a little bit of leather, making it your go-to wine for any meat lover's Thanksgiving, especially at just $12 a bottle. Available at Vinquire.com.

Crios de Susana Balbo Bonarda/Syrah Blend, $14 icon
Another winner from Argentina's leading lady, this wine has brambly, berry fruit and black pepper flavors from the Syrah, with a balance of spice and acidity from the Bonarda. At $14, you won't find more complexity and mouth-watering tastiness in a bottle. Sip this with turkey, ham, or hearty veggies, or on its own by the fire after the food coma has set in. Available at Wine.com.

Ferreira Tawny Porto, $15
Be it pecan, pumpkin, or apple pie, it will always taste better with a glass of tawny port — especially one that's just $15 a bottle. Spice, stewed fruit flavors, and a bit of nuttiness make this wine an excellent choice for coffee, traditional holiday desserts, or on its own as a digestive while you loosen that belt and take in the family diorama.  Available at WineRX.com.

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