More wine is served for the Thanksgiving meal than for any other meal of the year. Selecting a single wine would be boring, especially when you consider the cornucopia of flavors to pair it with at the Thanksgiving table. You might consider two kinds of wine just for the turkey – one for the red meat and another for the white meat. Then, of course, there are the different side dishes such as dressing or stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet yams, and cranberry sauce. And beyond that, there are desserts such as pumpkin pie to pair with complementary wines.
While there is no hard and fast rule for picking wines, the main consideration is how the taste of the wine complements the food you are serving. For optimal results, plan ahead to make sure your Thanksgiving Day dinner is enhanced by an appropriate wine selection.
A fine bubbly wine makes a good start for any special dinner. Greet your arriving guests with a flute of the sparkling wine. If you prefer to hold off and serve the wine with dinner, make sure it is dry. (Tip: Look for “brut” on the label). Avoid serving sweet sparkling wine.
There are different whites that will serve as good accompaniment for the turkey dinner. Choose among white wines that are fruity, refreshing, and tangy, such as:
- Chenin Blanc – slightly sweet, spicy, and with high acidity.
- Sauvignon Blanc – crisp and light, with a hint of grass flavor.
- Gewurztraminer – highly aromatic with notes of spice and floral touch.
- Riesling – either dry or sweet with spicy, fruity flavor bearing hints of apricots and peaches and a subtle floral fragrance.
- Viognier – fruity and floral, with essences of apricot, pear, and peach.
Red wines can be served with turkey. They are versatile, pairing well with the dark meat as well as the light turkey breast meat. Choose red wines with berry flavor to contrast with the hearty menu. Consider the following:
- Beaujolais is light and dry with fruity flavors.
- Pinot Noir in youth boasts essence of cherries, raspberries, plums, and strawberries; when aged, it has a smoky edge.
- Syrah or Shiraz is strongly spiced with the qualities of black pepper. Older wines are fruitier and have mild smokiness.
- Zinfandel is intense and plummy, with spicy and peppery notes.
Some people may vacillate between white or red. Offer these guests something in between – rose wine. White Zinfandel is light, crisp, and fruity.
Serve a good wine for the dessert of pumpkin or pecan pie. A Muscat, Port, or Sauternes could be a good choice. Better still, serve a semi-sweet sparkler, like Asti Spumante, to bring a sparkling finish to the Thanksgiving Day dinner.