Talking Turkey and Wine – What to Have on Thanksgiving

Our thoughts turn to the upcoming holidays and planning visits with friends and family this Thanksgiving. This much loved food-filled holiday is perhaps a wine connoisseur’s hardest wine-pairing day of the year: multiple variations of food ranging from mashed potatoes with fresh gravy, to sweet candied yams and tart cranberry dressing and more make for a true pairing challenge. This time of year, one of the most common questions is what wines to pair with the Thanksgiving dinner.

The purpose of pairing food with wine is to enhance your dining experience. The wine should enhance the food and the food should enhance the wine, creating a symbiotic relationship that improves both. A challenge is that we don’t serve Thanksgiving Day dinner in courses where we can pair each dish with a different wine. Usually, the table is set and all the side dishes are already made, presented nicely on the table, and then the turkey shows up. With all of the dishes on the table, we pass the plate and load up on a little bit of everything.

The key to a successful wine pairing at Thanksgiving is versatility. With so many different foods we need a wine that will be able to “go with the flow” so-to-speak. Try not to think in the extremes of either white or red wines. So you like the big, brooding, dark Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel with super-ripe flavor…or perhaps a very acidic, ultra-citrus Sauvignon Blanc? That’s terrific, but you want to think balanced—low to mid alcohol levels, good acidity and a lighter style body with no huge tannins. There are many wine choices that fit this category.

Pinot Noir, as a red wine goes, is the one to choose for this meal. This wine is a great match for the variations of food on the table because of its versatility. Low-alcohol Pinot Noirs are a great match because they are light in body and will not overpower the food. The subtlety of the wine allows it to pair with most of what’s on the plate because of its non-intrusive style.

There are a few white wines that pair with your Thanksgiving table, our favorite being Pinot Gris. With bright fruit flavors of apple and peach, lively acidity and minerality, Pinot Gris will pair well with most anything on your table. Look at it as a way to reinvigorate your palate in between bites of all of that rich food.

Rosés are great food options because they are usually lower in alcohol, and they have a nice non-tannic, fresh fruitiness to them. Let’s make something clear: Rosé wines are not all sweet! Don’t think White Zinfandel when you’re drinking a pink wine! Those days are past, and now wineries are producing bone-dry rosés made from different red grapes.

Remember, while you’re shopping for those Thanksgiving wines, think balance, balance, balance! We here at Oliver’s Market wish you all a happy, and delicious Thanksgiving.

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