Sommelier-Recommended Wine Pairing Suggestions For Thanksgiving

wine pairings for thanksgiving

What wines do I serve with my Thanksgiving Dinner? My inbox is overflowing! All sommeliers get the most wine pairing questions during the holidays. I always want to give a satisfying answer. Still, I usually say, “It depends.” What are you serving? How do you prepare your turkey/ham/brisket? Will the turkey be roasted, brined, smoked, or deep-fried? What about appetizers? And salad? What are your side dishes? Do you want to serve a dessert wine? Depending on your menu, here are some wine pairings for Thanksgiving dinner (along with some great recipes)!

Wine Pairing Suggestions For Thanksgiving

Remember, these are not hard and fast rules, just guidelines:

  1. Serve what you like to drink, not what you think you must serve.
  2. Be festive. Serve a sparkling wine as a welcoming aperitif. [champagne toast picture here]
  3. Match the weight of the food with the weight of the wine. A light wine with a light appetizer is a good example.
  4. Use bridge ingredients (cheese, fruit, nuts) in a recipe to make wine more compatible with vegetables, salad dressings, and spices. [Picture here of salad]
  5. Avoid heavily tannic wine with turkey and spicy casseroles. Pinot Noir is always a good choice for roasted white meats as it has lighter tannins. Dry Rosé works well, too. Keep that special Cabernet Sauvignon in the cellar/shelf, as the tannins will fight the spiciness of the food.
  6. Red Zinfandel’s flavors of plum, pepper, jammy blackberry and tobacco can hold up to a smoked or deep-fried turkey. [Picture of turkey here] A Garnacha/Grenache based wine, domestic or international, works well with ham–especially those honey-based hams or if served with cherry sauce. The raspberry, baked cherry, and spice notes are a perfect pairing.
  7. Full-bodied white wines like Chardonnay and Viognier pair well with heavier sauces, root vegetables, or cheese. [picture of root vegetables here]
  8. Dessert wines should be sweeter than the dessert, or the wine will taste flat/sour.

See my sample menu and pairing suggestions below. Alton Brown’s Good Eats Turkey is a favorite recipe traditionally in my home, but now I also use the Tyler Florence Spatchcocked Turkey recipe, too. We brine the turkey the day before and the resulting roasted turkey retains optimal moisture. Have you ever spatchcocked a turkey? Check out Tyler Florence’s recommendations

Join me on Twitter @WineGrapeStone and let me know what wines worked for you.

All-American Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Menu 

Maple-Rosemary Almonds courtesy of Rachael Ray. (Photographer: Kate Sears)

wine pairings for thanksgiving

Pair with: Veuve Clicquot, La Grande Dame or LVE by John Legend Sparkling Rosé

Pear, Walnut, Blue Cheese Salad courtesy of Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club

wine pairings for thanksgiving

Pair with: Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé

Melange of Roasted Root Vegetables courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

wine pairings for thanksgiving

Pair with: Fess Parker Ashley’s Vineyard Chardonnay

Bobby’s Wild Rice and Goat Cheese Dressing recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay, Food Network

wine pairings for thanksgiving

Pair with: Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Oregon 

Brined and Roasted Good Eats Turkey courtesy of Alton Brown or Tyler Florence Spatchcocked Turkey with Sage Butter Gravy

wine pairings for thanksgiving

Pair with: Gary Farrell, Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

Baked Ham with Brown Sugar-Honey Glaze courtesy of Trisha Yearwood, Food Network Magazine. (Smoked or Fried Turkey, Ham or Brisket.

wine pairings for thanksgiving

Pair with: Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vines Zinfandel)

Classic Pumpkin Pie courtesy of Martha Stewart 

wine pairings for thanksgiving

Pair with: Australia’s Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat (375ML bottle) $19.99

Recommended Wines

2008 Veuve Clicquot La Grand Dame, $169.97

Ratings: Wine Spectator — 94 points. This is the Verve Clicquot Prestige Cuvee (top of the line)….a great wine that pays homage to the Madame (Widow) Clicquot. This wine has smoke-tinged flavors of almond, poached pear, and toast aromas. Highly recommended.

LVE by John Legend Sparkling Rosé, $19.99

Ratings:’s Wilfred Wong – 89 points. Singer, songwriter, humanitarian, John Legend is now a wine entrepreneur. This is a lively French sparkling rosé with a fruity nose of red currants, and the bubbles are soft and pleasant.

2015 Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé, $21.99

Ratings: The Tasting Panel — 93 Points. An irresistible pink! Charming, refreshing, refined, and with plenty of juicy, enticing, strawberry and berry fruit. This is a rosé that should be in everyone’s cellars, without exception.

2017 Fess Parker Ashley’s Vineyard Chardonnay, $31.99

Ratings: Wine Enthusiast — 93 Points. This Chardonnay from the Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara region is laced with lemon confit, jasmine, mint, Sweet spice, and lightly butter notes.

2017 Stoller Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Oregon, $49.99

Ratings: Wine Spectator — 92 Points. Willamette Valley is one of America’s best Pinot Noir regions. This wine features vibrant raspberry and violet aromas, with cherry and black tea accents.

2017 Gary Farrell, Pinot Noir, Russian River Selection, $41.99

Ratings: Wine Enthusiast — 94 Points. This is a beautiful winery in the heart of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. This wine offers a depth and richness with tiers of dark cherry, currants, dried mushrooms, black tea, and fresh violets.

2017 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vines Zinfandel, $31.99

Ratings: Wine Enthusiast — 90 points. This is a zesty Zin loaded with lively fruit, fresh cranberries, black cherry, with nutmeg and cinnamon aromas leading to a layered, jammy flavor of blackberry cobbler.

Australia’s Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat (375ML bottle), $22.99

Ratings: Wine Enthusiast — 92 Points. The production of this fortified wine is part of the Yalumba and Barossa Valley history. Deep copper colored with tastes and aromas of dark toffee, mochas, caramelized orange, candied apricots, and a long finish.


About the Author: Tricia Conover, DipWSET, AWE, CSS is a Level 4 Sommelier, Travel and Wine Writer for PrimeWomen Magazine.

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