By this time tomorrow, you’ll be up to your eyeballs in gizzards, trimmings, green beans and garlic. So before the stores close, and you have no options but that gallon ‘o wine you’ve been storing in the hall closet, here are a few ideas for wines (and cocktails) you can pair easily with that delicious bird that will be roasting away in a matter of hours.
Finding a good all-around wine to serve on Thanksgiving can be like riding a bicycle backwards while yodeling. That being said, the menu has it’s staples, and yes, they can be a bear to work with. You’ve got turkey (fried, baked, grilled, and rotisseried), candied sweet potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, stuffing, gravies, cranberry sauce, and whatever weird dish your Aunt Barb decided to bring this year (surprise!).
The key to balancing all these flavors is to realize this: there IS no perfect wine pairing for Thanksgiving dinner. What you need: flexibility in flavor, great taste, and something everyone will love.
So here are a few ideas on what wine to serve with turkey for Thanksgiving.
Sparkling Wines for a Holiday Meal
A great sparkling wine can add just the ‘pop’ to an event, as well as a palate when a menu is diverse. If you’re serving a sparkling wine with dinner, be sure it is labeled brut (which means dry) and not a sweet sparkling wine. Save those Asti Spumante’s for dessert.
White Wines for Thanksgiving
Although Chardonnay is the go-to white wine for many on a weekly basis when it comes to meal pairing, the oakiness and intensity of most Chardonnays does not pair well with a Thanksgiving smorgasbord. Instead, white wines that are refreshing, tangy, and fruity, work best. Here are a few ideas:
- Sauvignon Blanc: Light and crisp, with citrus or melon flavors. Sometimes grassy, floral, but not sweet. Higher acidity.
- Riesling: Can be dry or sweet; spicy, stone fruit flavor with a floral nose. This is one of our favorite holiday wines, because it can work well with many dishes. We like Pacific Rim’s Dry Riesling from Columbia Valley-not too sweet, and just the right acidity.
- Gewurztraminer: Dry or sweet. These wines are almost perfumed nose, with floral touches and spice notes. Very complementary to that candied sweet potato dish, especially if you’ve used cinnamon or nutmeg in the recipe.
Red Wines for Thanksgiving
Yeah, yeah, it’s the unforgivable sin to pair red wine with poultry. That’s what she said.
Yes, you can serve a red vino with turkey breast. You may not want to serve Cabernet because it is generally too high in tannins and a bit too acidic, but a lighter red is perfectly acceptable. Any of the following make a great addition to a holiday beverage menu:
- Pinot Noir: Young, fruit-froward, juicy. Usually reminiscent of cherries, plums, or violets. Older pinots have a bit more depth, and a nice lingering finish to the palate.
- Syrah: Spicy, peppery, and pow! A super delicious option, and almost always a crowd pleaser. AKA: Shiraz (if it comes from Australia).
- Zinfandel: Usually more acidic, jam jar, blackberry or raspberry notes. Don’t go cheap if you pick a zinfandel-ask your local wine shop for a recommendation if you aren’t sure. Zins are a classic for a multi-faceted menu pairing.
- Beaujolais: Young, fruity, and light. Easy to drink, and newer vintages are usually very affordable. Serve slightly chilled. Here is Gary Vaynerchuk’s comparision of pinot noir and beaujolais.
For dessert, think about classic cocktails like a sidecar, a manhattan, or a neat bourbon or port. Your guests will appreciate the change of pace, and after all that turkey and mashed potatoes, the spices lingering on their tastebuds will thank you.
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