These Are the 5 Wines to Bring to Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Wine - H 2015
Courtesy of Helen Johannesen

Thanksgiving Wine - H 2015

The wine expert behind celeb-favorite restaurants Animal, Jon & Vinny's and Trois Mec shares her picks.

Sure, the turkey and all the fixings are super critical on Thanksgiving, but admit it, so is the vino — especially in the face of all that extended family. But what’s the right choice? “Thanksgiving is an amalgamation of comforting flavors,” says Animal, Son of A Gun, Trois Mec and Jon & Vinny’s wine director Helen Johannesen. “A variety of wine goes with the food — balanced whites, rosé and I recommend lighter reds.”

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The hot young L.A. expert also has her own wine shop inside Jon & Vinny’s (where Caitlyn Jenner recently dined), Helen’s Wines, so Pret-a-Reporter sought her advice on making beverage selections for the big holiday. “When it comes to wine, my only real rule is let the wine be good and full of integrity,” she says.

Johannesen goes on, “My first recommendation is always drink what you like, not what you think you should have. That being said, if it was a blank canvas for a Thanksgiving fete, I think it’s always nice to start with Champagne — the real stuff, and preferably something with a little age.” Her pick? NV Camille Savès Rosé Champagne, which she says is a sexy, classic choice with some depth.

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Once the meal begins, both white and red can work, says Johannesen. “If you’re going to go with white, I think a white burgundy is the best choice, or something mineral-driven from the Loire Valley.” On the flip side, “Red speaks to the coziness of the season and the heartiness of the meal, but I wouldn’t recommend going to full-bodied as it could be overpowering.” Another tip: stick with lower-alcohol wines — like 12 percent — so you don’t get too full, or drunk, too fast.

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Johannesen also recommends progressing from white or rosé into a lighter bodied red over the course of the day. Her top five selections here — take notes. Oh, and Helen's Wines delivers within a six-mile radius.

2013 Morgon, Cote du Py, Jean Foillard
"This is the most perfect Gamay ever. It’s pretty feminine but also has a good amount of body."

2013 Rouge Frais Imperial, Domaine Comte Abbatucci
"Biodynamic bosses over in Corsica—a very light-bodied red with lots of depth and subtle cranberry notes."

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2013 Grenache Noir, Silix, Santa Ynez Valley
"My friend make this impossibly light and impeccably delicious grenache. It’s highly allocated so get it while you can! He is the assistant winemaker at Tyler — real California winemaking is in his DNA."

2012 Pinot Noir, Wenzlau, Santa Rita Hills
"I am obsessed with this lovely vigneron couple. Their passion for winemaking is amazing. This is one of my current favorite domestic pinot noirs."

2012 Saumur Blanc, Clos de la Rue, Chateau de Breze
"Chenin blanc in its truest form. From the hill of Breze in Saumur, this is mineral zip-lining fun with a nice body."