Six Go-To Turkey Day Wines

Opening just one bottle of wine on Thanksgiving Day?

Go with a sparkler.

Its toned-down flavors won’t compete with the many dishes being served, and its bright acidity and effervescence will provide a party for your palate.

But if you have a big group coming over and would like to open a number of bottles, we’d suggest mixing it up a bit. Try these six varieties — three whites and three reds — and let the good times pour…




  • Pinot Noir — Great with turkey and stuffing, this variety possesses some earth-like aromas and flavors that complement its fruit flavors, and also stand up to the stuffing. At the same time, it’s silky in the mouth, providing a nice counterpoint to the assertive flavors of the food.
  • Zinfandel — The exact opposite of Pinot Noir in terms of mouthfeel, Zin is our pick as a pairing partner for several of the typical side dishes. Its ample fruitfulness helps balance both sweet and bitter flavors in the food.
  • Syrah — The peppery quality found in most Shiraz bottlings acts almost like a seasoning for the turkey meat, and it also matches nicely with the herbal nuance of stuffing.


  • Riesling — Spicy, salty or sweet. At least one of those words describes most of the dishes that will be on the dinner table, and Riesling works well with all of them. In fact, Riesling has been described by some as the most food-friendly wine on Earth, which makes it a natural selection for Thanksgiving.
  • Gewurztraminer — In this case, the spice is in the wine, and we can think of no better pairing partner for turkey and gravy — together, or individually.
  • Pinot Grigio — If you’re drinking a lot more Sauvignon Blanc these days, take a break from that food-friendly variety and opt on this day for Pinot Grigio. It pairs well with fatty foods, and also handles herbs and spices better than most other whites.


  • If you’d like to open up still more bottles for even greater variety, consider the aforementioned Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Viognier, Albarino, Beaujolais Nouveau or rosé-style wines.
  • And with pumpkin or pecan pie, try Cream Sherry, Port or Late Harvest Riesling.


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What wine — or wines — do you typically open on Thanksgiving? We’d love to hear about them in the comments box below.

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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