Versatile red wines for your Thanksgiving table

Just because something is traditional doesn’t mean it always is the best fit for the job.

For instance, take Beaujolais Nouveau at Thanksgiving. This juicy wine, made from freshly fermented gamay grapes, has been drunk as a formal celebration of the end of the harvest season since at least the 1970s. It typically is released on the third Thursday in November, just weeks after the grapes have been picked, and this convenient timing has made it a vinous symbol of the start of the holiday season in the U.S.

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Beaujolais Nouveau is a quaffable delight, to be sure. And, perhaps there still is a place for it in your festivities. The price certainly is right for large gatherings, as most quality versions tend to hover around $20.

However, its bubble-gum aroma and still-fermenting fruit-punch nature isn’t what some drinkers want with their big bird. And, on the retail side of things, shipping delays lately could mean that the Nouveau doesn’t arrive until after Black Friday.

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The good news is that there are lots of interesting red wine options that are suitable for Thanksgiving and sell for less than $30.

Our focus for Thanksgiving reds is on light- to medium-bodied reds with good acidity, freshness and tart red fruit; there is a reason cranberry sauce is such a welcome condiment on the holiday table, and we love to mimic that in the wine. Here are a few bottles that we would be excited to have on our table this holiday:

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Tornatore Etna Rosso. Sicilian reds generally are outstanding for a Thanksgiving meal. This is one of the best values in the category, made from the nerello mascalese grape. It has vibrant notes of cherry and cranberry, with a pleasant mineral quality on the finish. Your pinot noir-loving aunt just might become a convert to Italian reds with this bottle.

Domaine Cheveau Beaujolais Villages en Chatenay. If you want a Beaujolais at the table, seek out one with slightly more structure and complexity. This Villages-level Beaujolais hits the mark. It’s a significant step up in quality from Beajoulais Nouveau, while selling for under $25 per bottle. Domaine Cheveau makes beautiful wines in Burgundy, as well; if you want to splurge on a chardonnay for the table, seek them out.

EZY TGR red table wine Oregon. Pinot noir often comes to mind when one thinks of Oregon. And, while pinot noir is a solid answer for Thanksgiving, this light-on-its-feet red, made mostly from cabernet sauvignon, is a great bridge for family and friends who might want a plusher red with dinner. Round flavors of pomegranate and aromatic herbs enable it to work with the entire fall feast.

The Slaters are beverage industry veterans and the proprietors of the Expat and the Lark Winespace in Athens.

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