From cranberry sauce to turkey to even pumpkin pie, every dish needs a wine to be its date this Thanksgiving. We’ve got the perfect Thanksgiving wine pairing for all of your favorite holiday dishes.
1. To start the evening
As a sommelier, I believe every get-together, celebration or holiday should begin with a bottle of bubbles to toast the night. With this Thanksgiving toast, why not cheers to all the things you are thankful for or just cheers to surviving the holidays with the family. Either way, it’s a great way to add a little bit of sparkle to the beginning of the night.
The first thing I think of when it comes to Thanksgiving wine pairings? Turkey. It’s the main event! Whether you’ll be roasting your turkey for hours this holiday, deep-frying it in the backyard, buying it already made from the store, or having to endure eating someone else’s overcooked turkey, these are the wines that will be a hit no matter how the turkey tastes.
If you prefer white wine, there’s no other white to have with turkey than chardonnay. It’s rich in body and flavor. The creaminess and bright acidity will go perfectly with all flavors of turkey.
If you happen to be the type who fries your turkey, continue drinking the bottle of bubbles you were drinking when you first arrived. Or better yet, open up a nice bottle of Champagne. The toasty notes and high acidity of Champagne will cut through the fattiness from the oil used to fry the turkey.
And for the person who just wants to enjoy a glass of red wine for dinner, there are two ways to go. Pinot noir is always a crowd-pleaser and goes wonderfully with turkey. It won’t overpower it, yet it has enough structure and notes of cherry to go along with your cranberry sauce as well.
Second choice would be a Zinfandel. Zinfandel has lower tannins, which will help cover up any dry turkey that may come your way this holiday. It also screams fall with notes of cinnamon, cloves and vanilla.
Next up, cranberry sauce! There are many great wines to pair with cranberry sauce, but I personally love a glass of rosé. Notes of strawberry and, you guessed it, cranberry make it the perfect match. It also won’t steal the show away from the sauce. In fact, it will probably have you going for seconds.
What’s Thanksgiving without stuffing? If you are one of those who love stuffing like I do, definitely get yourself a bottle of Beaujolais to pair with it. Beaujolais is made from the grape Gamay. It is similar to a pinot noir, but at a better value with low tannins. I personally like to serve it with a slight chill. In fact, Beaujolais has its own celebration on the third Thursday of November called Beaujolais Nouveau day. Based on that alone, you should be celebrating Thanksgiving with a bottle of Beaujolais. Look for a bottle that says “Nouveau.”
Oh gravy — it’s one of those things you typically eat once a year but dream about all year. Soon you’ll be dreaming of it with the thought of a glass of GSM with it as well. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre is a classic blend from the Rhone Valley. It’s full of smokiness, earthy and savory qualities, as well as bright juicy fruits.
Of course there’s got to be pumpkin pie at dinner. With a slice of pie, pour yourself a glass of slightly chilled Madeira. With notes of honey and caramel, it will be a heavenly way to wash down a bite of pumpkin pie full of fall spices.