A Simple Guide for Pairing Wine with Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, as it is for any food and wine lover. I spend a month curating the menu for our Thanksgiving dinner. Choosing the perfect wine is equally important. Below we share our five best tips for incorporating and pairing wine with your Thanksgiving turkey.

“Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul satisfying and eternal. ” ~ Julia Child

1. Greet your guests with the scent of hot mulled wine as they walk in the door.

There is nothing more inviting on a chilly day than entering a home and being offered a warm drink. Serve mulled wine in an easily accessible place so guests can warm up and sip as the food finishes cooking. If you have children or family members that prefer to not drink alcohol make sure to also offer a hot wassail or spiced cider as well. That scent of cinnamon, hot apples, and cranberries is the fragrance of the holidays.

Having a tradition of offering a warm beverage is one of those little details that makes lasting memories. Fine tune your blend and it will become an heirloom recipe to pass down. I remember being a little girl riding in the car to Huntsville, anticipating a cup of warm cinnamon cranberry cider as soon as we arrived. Try a blackberry mulled cider like this one.

2. Red wines add richness to your menu.

I choose a red wine when I want to elevate my menu and add some elegance. Red wines feel more formal at a holiday dinner party and I usually save my best bottles for Thanksgiving Day. A dry syrah with notes of smoke, cranberry, and currants pairs well. This bottle of Stolpman from California is an excellent choice and the Snoqualmie syrah from Washington state falls under ten dollars per bottle. Both are widely available.

Pinot noir is another red wine that pairs well for turkey, corn bread stuffing with savory herbs, and sweet potato soufflés. Pinot compliments thyme, rosemary, sage, and the citrus zest that bastes most roast turkey breast. A well balanced pinot noir is lovely if your stuffing is savory with sausage and mushrooms or sweet with maple and cranberry. We prefer Oregon and Washington State pinot.

3. Choose white wines for Cajun style turkey and casual style thanksgiving meals.

Chardonnay is a fail safe choice. It appeals to so many people and comes in all price ranges. Opt for oak aged Chardonnay to have the vanilla and spice notes that mingle so well with fall and winter foods. Virginia Dare of California and Château Est Michelle of Washington State produce some of my favorite chardonnay. If you serve white wine with your meal opt for a white mulled wine for your starter beverage.

White pinot became a favorite of mine this past year. I love the white pinot from Abington Vineyard in Virginia. Thanksgiving food brings to life the notes of clover honey, cinnamon, and apple. This is a slightly sweet wine with a bit of a blush tone. It also blends seamlessly from red or white mulled wines.

4. Buy one bottler per two guests.

If your party will have eight guests who will be drinking wine buy four bottles. That allows two hearty glasses per guest. You want enough wine that everyone feels free to get a second glass. Anything beyond that can lean towards excessive.

5. Always have non-alcoholic beverages for your guests who prefer to skip alcohol.

Having non alcoholic options is an important element of hospitality. Try serving honey crisp apple mocktails or chai pear cider. Have a pitcher of cold pressed apple juice available as well. Even as a wine blogger, I like to be given options like this when I visit someone’s home.

Enjoy the process of planning all the little details of your day.

Food is not about impressing people. It’s about making them feel comfortable.” – Ina Garten

If you have a specific pairing question please let us know on social media. Cheers!

(This not a sponsored post, however, I receive tasting samples of some wines featured on my blog.)