The flavors of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner are fairly diverse, so I find it hard to pick just one wine that would work well with all of them. So I recommend going with both a red and a white. You can keep things simple and offer two different wines, or you can offer a variety of both choices if you want to make things a little more interesting. Between the reds and the whites, you’ll have all the dishes covered and your guests can drink what they want. My strategy is to focus in on the main event of the day – THE TURKEY – picking a wine that works well with that as well as some of the other things that will be on the table. With your reds, I wouldn’t go too big, because while there are some fairly rich and robust things, there’s nothing on the the level of a steak. So you don’t want to go too huge or too tannic. With your whites, remember that there’s some sweetness in the turkey itself and some of the other dishes like yams, so I wouldn’t pick a super bone-dry white. The good news is that there are a lot of choices out there!
What we’re aiming for here in general is medium-body, softness and/or suppleness and nice acidity.
- Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley, Oregon or Burgundy, France.
- Californian Merlot or a Merlot-dominated Bordeaux. Bordeaux’s wines in particular are very food friendly so if you go that route look for a wine from St. Emilion which will contain mostly merlot.
- A village Beaujolais from Burgundy France.
- For Turkey Day, I like the wines from the villages of Fleurie or Julienas.
- Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain.
What I like is something that’s not too light or too dry.
- Pinot Gris Alsace, France. Look for the producers Zind-Humbrecht, Pierre Sparr, and Trimbach, among others.
- Chardonnay. Yes, I know some people are ABC (Anything But Chardonnay), but the fact is is that a medium-bodied Chardonnay with nice acidity can go very well with Thanksgiving.
- Viognier. Medium to rich body, loads of fruit and an unique floral nose can make these wines a real winner at Thanksgiving. My current favorite is Clos La Chance from California.
- A German Riesling. Look for an wine labeled Auslese or Beeranauslese. These wines will have a little bit of sweetness but that’s not a bad thing. Remember the turkey itself and many other things on the table have some sweetness. And the sweetness in these wines will be balanced by very nice acidity.
These are only some of the many wines you could choose for Turkey Day. So get over to your favorite wine retailer, taste some things if you can, pick a few out, and relax.