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Thanksgiving drinks: What Long Island drink enthusiasts are uncorking this year

Reserve Sauvage 2017 from Jamesport Vineyards.

Reserve Sauvage 2017 from Jamesport Vineyards. Credit: Newsday/Corin Hirsch

No day is as ripe for excess as Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes piled chest-high, five too many desserts, leftovers for a week. And my tendency to open multiple wines for a single meal goes into overdrive. I may get withering looks of “who's this lush bringing seven bottles to dinner,” but I don’t care. If not today, when? (Pacing is crucial. So are naps.)

I was curious what fellow drink enthusiasts, from writers to sommeliers, might have on their table this turkey day. 

Lenn Thompson, founder-editor of The Cork Report and wine columnist for, will reach for sparkling: “Macari Vineyards 2016 ‘Horses’ Sparkling Rosé. I love the versatility of dry rosé with all the flavors on a Thanksgiving table. Add bubbles and the subtle herbal notes in this 100 percent cabernet franc sparkler, and you have a fun, delicious pour with a savory edge for my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner: sausage stuffing.”

Jacqueline Malenda, owner of Madiran The Wine Bar in East Setauket, will also kick off with bubbles: “Usually I’m with Team Burgundy or Team Alsace, but Loire [France’s Loire Valley] is my thing this time. I’m leading off with a new favorite, a sparkling chenin blanc, Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Brut Tradition by Jacky Blot. The wine is genius —  dry, expressive, bright, notes of orchard fruit, particularly pear, and some white citrus with straw, white stone, and a kiss of clover honey.”

Fadi Yako, sommelier at Carltun on the Park in Eisenhower Park, will uncork that turkey-day classic, pinot noir: “Despite being French, I drink Californian pinots over Burgundian. This year, it's Clendenen Family Vineyards 'The Pip' Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley. A home run for a large table … floral on the nose, approachable red fruit on the palate, with great balance.”

Andrew Luberto, certified cicerone and board member of Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts: “ ‘The Oldest Fashion’ by WA Meadwerks [in Lindenhurst]. A non-carbonated, sweet mead made with cherries, orange zest, wildflower and orange-blossom honey, then aged in a rye whiskey barrel. Their play on an Old-Fashioned cocktail. The spicy, warming rye character balances the sweet-cherry and honey notes; the orange zest and alcohol keep sweetness in check. This would pair great with pie … but also with cranberry sauce, or as an aperitif.”

As for me, my desert island bottle this year is Reserve Sauvage 2017 from Jamesport Vineyards. It is a sauvignon blanc by provenance, but dispatches with the usual grassy notes and is creamy, nutty and almost oxidized, robust enough for turkey and uniquely seductive. Also, for pumpkin pie, I’ll open Neige Premiere Ice Cider from Quebec, made from apples that are left to freeze and then pressed and fermented into a rich, honeyed cider that bristles with life (aka acids).

Happy Thanksgiving!

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