Thanksgiving Wine & Spirits

Thanksgiving is coming up quick. The COVID results have come back negative and the social distancing table is set! Let’s face it, this year our recycling bins have been quite impressively full. You’ve been drinking the good stuff and saving that strange looking two buck chuck to regift, or for a guest whose taste is questionable. The whiskey is down to its last drop and all you have left in your fridge is your least favorite flavor of White Claw. Don’t panic, I have the solution for your wine pairings and some festive cocktails – Thanksgiving wine and spirits– that will keep your auntie happy and the political conversations at bay. 

Note: if you have a very outspoken relative that will get on their soapbox and spurt their opinions over your beautiful thanksgiving spread, we suggest adding additional alcohol to any of these recipes, for you or for your politely quiet guests.

Let’s start off with something easy and festive, something to greet your guests at the door.

German Glühwein (glue-vine). A recipe that my parents brought back from the German Christmas markets. We had a bit of an obsession with this during the cooler months. It is a spiced warm wine that can be made with either white or red wine. This beverage will heighten your holiday senses with its fresh orange slices and the warm spiced aroma of cinnamon, ginger and a strong berry compote. We prefer the red wine recipe to pair with appetizers such as baked brie, dried fruit or any hardy hors d’oeuvre. A strong dry red such as a shiraz or cabernet would do just fine. If you are interested in the white wine version, I always suggest a sweeter riesling or light chardonnay. No need to use your expensive bottles. That regifted two buck chuck can get the job done for this.



  • 1/2 medium orange
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup turbinado or granulated sugar
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle dry red wine
  • Rum or amaretto, for serving (optional)


  1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange in wide strips, taking care to avoid the white pith; set aside. Juice the orange and set the juice aside.
  2. Combine the water and sugar in a large, nonreactive saucepan and boil until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce the heat and add the cloves, cinnamon, star anise, orange zest, and orange juice. Simmer until a fragrant syrup forms, about 1 minute.
  3. Reduce the heat further and add the wine. Let it barely simmer for at least 20 minutes but up to a few hours. Keep an eye out so that it doesn’t reach a full boil.
  4. Strain and serve in small mugs, adding a shot of rum or amaretto and garnishing with the orange peel and star anise if desired.


Now, let’s get into the main course pairing.

We have your standard stuffing, mash potatoes, cranberry sauce, green vegetables and the turkey you worked so hard on. We’ll need to sort out the bottle options.

Pinot noir is always a great red for the table. A light bodied, floral aroma will complement any homemade cranberry sauce or dark meat. I recently picked up a bottle of La Crema from our local Raley’s; a wine that’s great for a heavy dinner and is also kind to your wallet. 

La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir 2017 – $18.56 per bottle

  • A juicy pinot, aromas of ripe strawberries, and freshly cut plums. On the palate, raspberry compote, dark berries with a spice finish.


Of course, we are going to need a white wine option.

A bright chardonnay will do the trick. We don’t want to weigh the dinner down with a heavy, overly oak or buttery Chardonnay. 

Leeuwin Prelude Chardonnay 2018 – $36.00 per bottle

  • Aroma is light lemon and poached pear with hints of floral. The palate is smooth with hints of clear fruit and a light creamy finish. A Chardonnay anyone will love. Pairs nicely with light and dark meat. Compliments any hardy stuffing and refreshes the palate for the next course. This can be ordered at, a local importer in Napa. They deliver and offer pick up options. They are currently offering 20% off your order with coupon code HOUSECALL.


Dessert is what makes any great meal complete.

We all know the pie is coming, but maybe you’d rather have a night cap. I recently tried a recipe that will satisfy any whiskey lover. The apple whiskey sour. A recipe that I found on, this cocktail is great if we’re still experiencing some heat waves or if someone has the fireplace going.



  • 3 oz bourbon whiskey – I recommend Burning Chair (Savage & Cooke) or Bulleit Kentucky Bourbon
  • 3 oz of apple cider (Trader Joe’s Natural Apple Cider), Chilled
  • 1 oz of simple syrup
  • 1 oz of lemon juice
  • 1 half glass of ice


  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixer, shake well and strain (optional).
  2. Garnish with lemon and sprinkle cinnamon on the top.


I hope you stay safe, have a DD for the ride home (if you choose venture out) and enjoy the holiday.


Maura Sullivan