The Best Wines for Turkey Time | Holiday Wine Recommendations from Charlie Palmer Steak DC Wine Director, Nadine Brown

Nadine, our long time sommelier and wine director who was recently named a "top DC power player," offers some anecdotal advice on Thanksgiving wine pairings.

"Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday--the celebration of family, friends and the recent harvest.  It also marks the start of the holiday season, which can be stressful enough. Wine should never be hard or stressful, just choose wines that you love and wines that are versatile.  Being from Jamaica, via San Juan, Puerto Rico and then Boston, my table will have everything from curried goat, beans and rice, new England Chowder and local Virginia Ham, the typical American melting pot.  Forget the Beaujolais Nouveau. Grand Cru Beaujolais is phenomenal and often a quarter of the price of fancy Burgundies. But, if you do have some Burgundy, be thankful, and drink it.

Be creative.  This Thanksgiving, along with some German Riesling, I will have some local Virginia hard cider from Foggy Ridge (Charlottesville, VA) and some Port City Brewing Company American Pale Ale, made just down the street from my house.  Pinot Noir and Champagne or sparkling wines are always a staple. Both styles are great for the wide range of Thanksgiving foods. Lioco Vineyards Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley, CA) is a great choice.  Roederer Estate’s Brut Rose (Anderson Valley, CA) is easy to find and is an excellent choice to sip on while preparing your meal (in moderation, of course!).

For the heartier meats, like leg of lamb or steak--or even just because--I recommend some Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.  Avoid those 100 Point Napa Cabernets and choose some cooler climate selections or wines with a little bottle age where the tannins have had some time to soften.   Failla’s 2011 Syrah (Sonoma Coast, CA) and Corison’s 2000 Cab (Napa Valley, CA) are two of my absolute favorites. 

Above all, the most important rule of thumb is this:  Drink what you like.  And, maybe finish things off with a digestif like Lustau Sherry—you’ve earned it!"

Nadine’s Recommendations


  • N.V. Roederer Estate, Brut Rose, Anderson Valley, California
  • N.V. Gruet Winery, Demi-Sec, Albuquerque, New Mexico


  • 2011 Mouton Noir, Knock On Wood, Un-Oaked Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • 2010 Domaine Weinbach, Pinot Gris, Vin D’ Alsace, France


  • 2011 Copain, Tous Ensemble, Pinot noir, Mendocino County
  • 2007 Louis Latour, “Morgon,” Grand Cru Beaujolais, France
  • 2011 Failla Vineyards, Syrah, Sonoma Coast
  • Foggy Ridge, “Serious Cider,” Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Port City Brewing Company, American Pale Ale, Alexandria Virginia