Tips To Choose the Perfect Wine for Your Dinner This Fall


It’s not too early to think about our holiday meals on the calendar. Whether you’re still in small groups or thinking about larger (but safe) groups, you still may be asked to bring the wine.

In the past, a pinot noir was the safe choice for turkey dinners. It still is. But there are other wines for a turkey dinner, or a vegetarian dinner, or just for sipping before the appetizers are passed. Plus Halloween wines!

Atanas Nechkov, Master Sommelier at ABC Fine Wines & Spirits, held an online tasting session to share his thoughts about finding inexpensive vino, and I’m passing along our finds.

Two points he mentioned to keep in mind, no matter where you shop:

  • Taste is subjective and individual. We can only compare quality, so grab a bottle of quality wine and you’ve done your best!
  • If there is a wine consultant or expert on the premises, ask them questions. Tell them what you’re looking for in regard to food pairing or occasion or event. They are trained in those areas, so take advantage of their training. ABC stores have wine sales consultants for this purpose.

Rose wine is a large category, made more so in the past five years when folks discovered that not all roses were sweet. Between the U.S. and France, says Nechkov, these two countries consume the highest numbers of rose in the world. 

We tried the Chateau Trians, Coteaux Varois en Provence Rose 2019, at $14.99. Nechkov said he considers this vineyard to be the Lafite of rose wines. As he put it, “You take a sip, and you immediately want a second one.” He was right. It is a dry wine, but a full rose and is nicely balanced. It has a light sweetness of strawberries on the palate and would pair well with any food – and it’s a good sipping wine, too. This one will go on my “buy regularly” list and I’m eager to take it to dinners and introduce it to friends who just drink Whispering Angel. That’s a nice rose, but this one is yummy and less expensive.

Another Nechkov tip: “You should choose rose partly with your eyes. I won’t buy it unless I can see the wine.” In other words, a boxed rose isn’t on his list.

He put together a list of wines for Halloween, ranging from a cabernet sauvignon to a coconut rose that’s not meant for food pairing, but just sipping by itself. Here’s his list:

  • Octopoda Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville 2018, sale $39.99
  • Octopoda Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2017, sale $24.99
  • Octopoda Cabernet Franc North Coast 2018, sale $19.99
  • Octopoda Sonoma County, Russian River Chardonnay 2019, sale $17.99
  • The Buccaneer, Back From the Dead Red, California 2016, sale $14.99
  • Pulse Coconut Rosé, $9.99 (just sipping)
  • Pulse Grapefruit Rosé, $9.99 (just sipping)

While Halloween wines are noted for their labels and that doesn’t always carry through to the taste, The Buccaneer’s Back From The Dead Red is a nice exception: a good wine with a great Halloween label. Plus the $14.99 price is a good deal, too.

There were more tips, especially for Thanksgiving meals and vegetarian dishes, but I’ll save those for another column. Here’s another tip from Nechkov, which is one of my favorite suggestions, too: Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and explore new flavors.