Thanksgiving Vino, Part 2: Sommeliers Sean Beck and Vanessa Treviño-Boyd Guide You

Photo by Dinner Series
So many wines to choose from. Which one should you put on the Thanksgiving table?
It can be complicated and difficult to properly pair wines with the Thanksgiving dinner. You have so many different types of dishes -- spicy, sweet, savory -- and with so many different types of wines to choose from, which ones should make it to the Thanksgiving table?

We spoke with two of Houston's most popular sommeliers, Sean Beck of Backstreet Cafe, Hugo's and Trevisio Restaurant, and Vanessa Treviño-Boyd of Philippe, about their recommendations for wine pairings this Thanksgiving. Take their advice and you're bound to have a well-rounded, excellent meal on Thursday.

Beck explains that the variety of flavors on the table gives you the opportunity to use just about any wine from any region.

"There is nothing in there [Thanksgiving dinner] that is so intensely dominant in flavor that it really needs a particular wine. You can kind of go hog-wild with whatever you want your theme to be. Years past, that is what I have always done. One year I might go Italian; there are so many beautiful Italian wines that will just work beautifully with the ham, turkey and all the sides," he says. "If you want to keep it American, you can keep it classic American wines; you can do a Zinfandel, which I think is a great counterpoint to turkey; it is a very mild, subtle flavor -- it brings spice to the table, but it can also handle the sweet potatoes and all of the fixings, the heavy stuffing and mac and cheese that we put on the table."

But before you start picking the wines for the day, Beck suggests gauging your audience.

"If your audience is adventurous, then go for adventurous, but the thing I mainly tell them to stay away from is really really high alcohol, really really high tannin," Beck says. "I mean, this is not the holiday to be busting out Cabernet and Bordeaux...and those really dense, decadent reds that require some fat to soften it up, because...most of us aren't serving a standing rib roast -- that's more for Christmastime."

vanessa trevino boyd.jpg
Photo by Jeremy Parzen
Vanessa Treviño-Boyd, sommelier of Phillipe, enjoys pairing a Pinot Noir with the stuffing.

Both Beck and Treviño-Boyd recommend Pinot Noir for the Thanksgiving table.

"I like to have a number of different things on the table so that people can mix and match things and try different things. For me, going to visit family, bringing wine is all about introducing people to something they haven't had before," Treviño-Boyd says. "So I like to bring a couple of different Pinot Noirs, one from Burgundy and one from California. So, one from the old world and one from the new world, to kind of give them an example of the range of expressions that Pinot Noir can have depending on where it was grown. I like Pinot Noir from Burgundy; I like Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast -- that's one of my favorite areas in California right now."

Location Info

Backstreet Cafe

1103 S. Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX

Category: Music


1600 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Trevisio Restaurant

6550 Bertner St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Philippe - CLOSED

1800 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help

great post and so true what both of them say: the pairings depend so much on gauging the guests' sense of adventure... that's such a big part of what Thanksgiving is about... 


I've been really impressed recently with the new Philippe, for both lunch and happy hour. Lunch was knockout and way less than I expected.  Very cozy  bar space downstairs, I'm cougaring there from now on!

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