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The Turkey and Wines to Grace Your Table This Thanksgiving

Our experts weigh in on what you should be eating and drinking on Thursday.

heritage turkey frank reese Photo: courtesy Heritage Farms

Now that you’ve finalized the guest list and picked out the perfect tableware, it’s time to turn your attention to the main attraction. From heritage turkeys to wines sure to wow, here’s what you should be eating and drinking on Thanksgiving.

Buy a Heritage Turkey

It turns out all those buzzwords you thought made your turkey better—free range, organic, antibiotic free—are really just a bunch of baloney. Most likely, your wholesome holiday dinner is still genetically engineered. “Even if you’re buying from a local farmer who says they let them run around on grass, 90 percent of those farmers are still buying them from the very same place Butterball does,” says Frank Reese of Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch. That’s not the case on Reese’s farm. He raises heritage turkeys and preserves the remaining breeds that existed before factory farming altered the turkey forever. And you’ll taste the difference: Heritage meat is darker, richer, and more flavorful because the birds grow more slowly—in other words, naturally—making their muscles healthier and more nutrient dense. Now if only those canned cranberries came with the same guarantees. –Jeremy Repanich

Add Some Cabernet Sauvignon

Walking Napa Valley’s version of the red carpet is a collection of highly allocated, hard-to-get Cabernet Sauvignon stars. We’ve got our glasses at the ready for the bold and beautiful new releases, like Lokoya’s foursome of mountain-grown Cabernets, each of which offers a study in the region’s microclimates and varied terroir, from the porous soil of Diamond Mountain to the cool and wet terraces of Spring Mountain. This year’s 2015 vintages— which weathered a challenging growing season with grace—are especially full of backbone: The Mt. Veeder ($395), for instance, brings the wine’s signature blueberry notes to the fore with new vigor. All those tight tannins can obscure the flavors if you sip too soon (decant for two to six hours first), but they also lend the wine the structure it needs to age for the next 15 to 25 years. Another gift of the 2015 harvest is Stones Wine’s No. 3 Cabernet Sauvignon. Made from grapes from the Tench vineyard in Oakville— just steps from great wine estates like Screaming Eagle and Gargiulo Vineyards—the red starts with plenty of provenance and gets even better thanks to the winery’s meticulous methods in pruning to concentrate flavors. The low yield is worth it: No. 3 ($450) strikes an elegant balance between black and blue fruit and smooth tannins. You’ll want the pair and a spare allocation—this one will be good for 20 more holiday seasons to come. –Janice O’Leary

And Four More New-Release Napa Wines of Note

ZD Wines Abacus XX Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

This defiant Cab contains bits of 26 different ZD Reserve vintages, creating a complex swirl of old and new. ($2,025 for a three-bottle pack)

Amici Cellars 2015 Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Napa’s historic To Kalon always delivers great concentration in its wines, and this earth-driven version from Amici is no exception. ($195)

Ehlers Estate 2015 Portrait St. Helena, Napa Valley

This new Bordeaux-style from Ehlers Estate blend finds a lovely, restrained balance of earthy undertones layered with mocha and hints of purple flowers. ($75)

Odette Estate 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District, Napa Valley

Mouth filling, rich, and almost cordial-like, this Odette Estate Cab is grounded by crushed rock and lifted by beautiful floral aromas. ($600 for a two-bottle pack)

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