When it comes to choosing wines to accompany the traditional Thanksgiving feast, you could easily begin and end with sparkling wines from Spain, California, Washington or France without breaking the budget. But there are some excellent choices in dry and not-so-dry white wines and a couple of lively reds, too.
Sparkling wines drink well from before dinner toasts right through to dessert. You might even start with a brut and finish with a rose.
The hands-down winner for best buy among sparkling wines is Cristalino brut cava from Spain, which goes for $7 to $9 the bottle just about everywhere. Crisp, clean and buzzing with bubbles, it just can't be beat at the price. Cristalino also offers a brut rose in the same price range. The pink one's a little softer and a nice finale for a big meal.
From Washington state comes Domaine Ste. Michelle cuvee brut, a perennial favorite at the holidays at about $11 a bottle. Like all the sparkling wines recommended here, it is a nonvintage blend of grapes from various growing regions and years, the blend intended to consistently represent the vintner's house style. Excellent with turkey.
From California comes Piper Sonoma brut (about $16), another cuvee. Its blend of pinot noir and pinot meunier and chardonnay grapes gives this traditional sparkler plenty of body and fullness. Bring on the cranberry relish and candied yams!
Cuvee de la Chevaliere's Cremant de Loire brut (about $12) is a cream-finished bubbly as smooth and silky as they come. Both the turkey and the mashed potatoes will adore this wine.
Among white wines there are so many options we can't possibly sample even a fraction of them. The traditionalist's choice on turkey day most likely will be a chardonnay. This hugely popular varietal won't fight with anything on your plate, and everybody has a favorite. Some we like a lot are the 2006 Clos du Bois (California North Coast; about $12), the 2006 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley (Washington; about $11), the nonvintage Bonterra Vineyards Mendocino County chardonnay made from organically grown grapes (about $12), and the 2007 Bogle Vineyards offering (California; about $9).
Each of these chardonnays is a pair-with-anything workhorse and will please a range of tastes. If you feel adventurous, you might slip a bottle of a not-too-dry, not-too-sweet riesling into the mix. One good bet is Schmitt-Sohne's perfectly named Relax (Germany; about $10). This wine, too, will appeal to many tastes and, like chardonnay, is a natural with roasted white meats. It's even good with brussels sprouts.
Some among us shudder at the thought of red wine with turkey, but as Franklin D. Roosevelt said, you have nothing to fear but fear itself.
The very best bet among turkey reds is a beauty from Oregon that Wine Spectator rates an enviable 86. The 2006 Erath pinot noir (about $20) is a supple, friendly, complex wine (don't let the screw cap fool you) most often paired with zesty fare like grilled meats, pizza, pasta with red sauce or barbecue, but its subtle notes of cherry and citrus make it a natural with roast fowl, too. Creamed baby onions purr for this big baby.
Another good choice is one of the more velvety zinfandels, in which you get a bit of the bramble bite you expect but with a long smooth finish that tames it for the Thanksgiving table. Two of our favorites are the Rosenblum Cellars Vintner's Cuvee XXX (California; about $13), a blend created to honor the winemaker's upcoming 30th anniversary, and the 2006 Bogle Vineyards Old Vine zin (California; about $11), which earned an 85 from Wine Spectator, making it a very good deal. Both will play nicely with everything from the bird to the Parker House rolls.
Colette Bancroft is the Times' book editor. John Bancroft is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.