Best Bets: Thanksgiving wine pairings

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CHEERS: Get your wine on this Thanksgiving with these top picks from local sommeliers.

Headed to Thanksgiving dinner and no time to cook? No problem. Every potluck needs that lazy friend who just brings wine. And we've called upon two local vino experts to help us be that friend, without shame.

Advance sommelier Eric Crane is director of training at Empire Distributors, a wholesale beverage distributor home covering three states across the Southeast. Certified sommelier Kacey Jane Ivey works with Atlanta-based Quality Wine and Spirits. Here, they share their top T-giving picks: a couple of readily available, reasonably priced bottles to pair with this year's cornucopia.

Elk Cove Pinot Gris

Average retail price: $19-$21

This is a user-friendly wine from Willamette Valley, Oregon with subdued flavors of tart apple and pear and a really clean acidity to work through most dishes. While this is great with fried, smoked, or roasted turkey, it will also slide right through mashed potatoes or cornbread stuffing. And it won't clash with most vegetables or gravies, either.

Banfi Chianti Classico

Average retail price: $13-$16

Don't let a well-known name scare you! Few countries take food and wine pairing as seriously as the Italians do. If you're looking for something to serve next to your heartier dishes without overpowering them, this Chianti Classico from Tuscany is a total go-to. With flavors of ripe cherry and sour plums, this wine can pair with game and hams as well as sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. This Sangiovese is just tannic enough for those in the mood for a powerful dry wine and has killer acidity to take the edge off all of that wonderful cream and butter.

Dr. Loosen "Dr. L" Dry Riesling

Average retail price: $12-$15

Riesling is a crowd pleaser and such a phenomenal food wine. The Mosel region, known for its slate soils, gives way to shining acidity that plays so well with the aromatic nose. The touch of sweetness, touch of spice, and floral characteristics accompany savory casseroles and souffl̩s with perfection. Plus, Riesling as a grape varietal is lighter in alcohol exactly what we need with heavy meals and extended hours of enjoyment.

Educated Guess Pinot Noir

Average retail price: $19-$22

This is precisely what you expect and want from California pinot noirs, gorgeous and balanced. The nose has the usual suspects fruit notes of cranberry, raspberry, and cherry with vanilla and leather essence while the palate is luscious and almost creamy with medium tannins and acidity to accompany the meal without overpowering it. California is a bit warmer than Oregon and France, so this pinot noir is bit "bigger" and great for spanning the gap between light and heavier wine preferences.

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