Look at you! You’ve powered through your Thanksgiving prep checklist, you’ve spruced up your home for the season and, of course, picked a delicious way to cook the bird. But don’t overlook a key component of your Thanksgiving celebration — selecting the wine!
To really add polish and maybe even a little sparkle to the overall feast, consider our favorite Thanksgiving wine suggestions. Each one offers a way to complement and enhance the elements of your meal, and to elevate the mood of the gathering.
Red Wines for Thanksgiving
A cool-weather favorite, good red wines can really enrich your Thanksgiving dinner. They can also aid digestion so you can consider not just seconds, but maybe (dare we say) thirds?
Pinot Noir: This crowd-pleaser features earthy tones, warm spices, dark berries and low tannins to help support the flavors of food, particularly turkey. It also pairs perfectly with cheeses, lamb and ham, so you might want to keep a few bottles around for the next holiday as well.
Syrah: Earthy, fruity and a little bit more of an exciting choice, this zesty red features a spicy edge and peppery notes that bring out the best of both light and dark turkey meat. It also dances well with peppery dishes or those that feature pungent herbs.
Zinfandel: This bold, robust red has red berry fruit flavors or even anise and peppery notes that make it juicy and spicy. Try it with your starter salad or spicier dishes, BBQ, grilled foods, and even pizza!
Cabernet/Merlot: A good Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot red blend, such as a claret, Meritage or Bordeaux, can pair nicely with turkey or Cornish hen. And a rich Cabernet goes well with anything involving mushrooms or butternut squash.
White Wines for Thanksgiving
There used to be a general rule-of-thumb about not serving (or wearing) white after mid-September. But luckily for everyone, there’s no set season for white wine anymore. (You’re on your own with that white linen top, however.)
These white varietals will complement your turkey, sides and dessert like no one’s business! What we really mean is, any time of year is a great time to stock up on these.
Sauvignon Blanc: Crisp, citrusy, refreshing and lends well to an herby turkey, greens and cheesy bread! Also great if you’re having an alternative main course, such as salmon or other fish.
Gewürztraminer: Upgrade from Moscato to this! Light with flavors of lychee, cantaloupe, pineapple and just a hint of spice, this dry white wine brings out the best in a good turkey and gravy combo and pairs especially well with gamey meats, smoked salmon, muenster, and Swiss cheese.
Riesling: Crisp, aromatic and with white peach, green apple and lime flavors, this white goes great with a wide spectrum of foods from spicy to salty to sweet. Enjoy with your sweet potatoes and turkey with herb-spiced stuffing.
Pinot Grigio: This crisp, light wine was made for enjoying with onions, garlic, herbs and all of the rich, flavorful dishes that Thanksgiving has to offer. You can’t go wrong pairing this with any course.
Chardonnay: Features complex fruit flavors, such as green apple, pear and pineapple, and is the best with shellfish, white fish, chicken, turkey, pork, legumes, pasta and creamy sauces.
Chenin Blanc: Similar to Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc, this white tastes great sweet or dry. Even better, it was made for that turkey and cranberry sauce combo! It also pairs well with creamy cheeses, red bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, and corn.
Rosé and Sparkling Wines
Here’s where you should really keep an open mind and break all those seasonal preconceptions on wine, because you don’t want to miss out on these choices. These wines are great for all courses, all flavors and those people who aren’t fans of white or red.
A rosé is crisp, refreshing and goes with anything on the table! And sparkling wines were made for all kinds of food. Go for a dry instead of a brut if you prefer more fruity flavors.
Do you or your guests not drink alcohol? No problem. There are lots of great alternatives, like Sparkling Ciders and Sparkling Grape Juices, available during the holiday season. These options give that celebratory feel you want without the “other stuff” you don’t. (Pro tip: They’re great for kids, too!)
But finally… remember that making your guests and yourself happy and keeping everyone in a joyful, festive mood is much more important than picking the “correct” wine for your celebration. So if you know that Aunt Meaghan and Uncle Steven are going to want that sweet white zin, don’t fight it. Go ahead and pick up a bottle of that too. It’s a party, and they should enjoy themselves too!