Top 8 Wine Pairing Guidelines for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Wine

A sommelier gets the most wine pairing questions during the holidays. What wines do I serve with my Thanksgiving dinner? I always want to give a satisfying answer without frustrating the hosts. I still usually say, “It depends.” What are you serving? How do you prepare your turkey/ham – roasted, brined, smoked, or deep-fried? Will you begin with appetizers? Will you have a salad? What are your side dishes? Will you serve a dessert wine?

Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Tips

Here are my top 8 wine pairing suggestions for an All-American Thanksgiving dinner. Remember, these are just guidelines:

1. Serve what you like to drink, not what you think you must serve.

2. Match the weight of the food with the weight of the wine.

3. Use bridge ingredients in a recipe (cheese, fruit, nuts) to make wine more compatible with vegetables, salad dressings and spices.

4. 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.

5. Red Zinfandel’s flavors of plum, pepper, jammy blackberry and tobacco can hold up to a smoked or deep-fried turkey.

Turkey   6. Full-bodied white wines like Chardonnay and Viognier pair well with heavier sauces, root vegetables or cheese.

Vegetables  7. Dessert wines should be sweeter than the dessert, or the wine will taste flat/sour.

Pumpkin Pie

8. Be festive. Serve a sparkling wine as a welcoming aperitif.


See my sample menu and pairing suggestions below. Alton Brown’s Good Eats turkey is a favorite in our home. We brine the turkey the day before, and the resulting roasted turkey retains optimal moisture.

Join me on twitter @WineGrapeStone and let me know what wine pairing worked for you.

Happy Thanksgiving to all PRiME Women and their families.

All-American Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Menu

Hawaiian Mini Cheese Ball Appetizer courtesy of Rachel Ray

Paired with: Schramsberg Cremant California Sparkling wine (Demi-Sec) or Gruet New Mexico Grand Rosé Sparkler

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

Paired with: Seven Hills Washington State Dry Rosé of Cabernet Franc

Roasted Root Vegetables courtesy of Emeril

Paired with: Barboursville Virginia Viognier

Sautéed Green Beans and Mushrooms courtesy of the Food Network Kitchens

Paired with: WillaKenzie Estate Oregon Pinot Gris

Brined and Roasted Good Eats Turkey courtesy of Alton Brown

Paired with: Domaine Serene Oregon Pinot Noir or Terra d’Oro Sierra Foothills Red Zinfandel (with a smoked turkey)

Pumpkin Pie  courtesy of Martha Stewart

Paired with: Pacific Rim Washington State Vin de Glaciere Organic Riesling (Ice wine)



Wines to Pair with Thanksgiving Dinner

2011 Schramsberg Cremant California Sparkling Wine, Napa Valley $39.99
Find this wine:
Ratings: Wine Enthusiast 93 Points schramsberg cremant 2011

Schramsberg is the true All-American sparkling wine and one of the first and most highly awarded of them all. This Cremant is off dry or demi-sec that will pair with sweet/savory appetizers. The Cremant features layers of pear nectar, apricot, caramelized ginger and honey with a long, lingering finish.

2010 Gruet New Mexico Grand Rosé Sparkler $49.99
Find this wine:
Ratings:’s Wilfred Wong 92 points
gruet grand rose 2010

A surprising and popular American sparkler from New Mexico, this sparkling Rosé has flavors and aromas of strawberry, and rich cherry with almond and floral notes

2014 Seven Hills Washington State Dry Rosé of Cabernet Franc $15.99
Find this wine:
Ratings: Wine Enthusiast 91 Pointsseven hills dry rose of cab franc

Dry Rosé can be paired with many dishes. Enjoy its white peach, herbal, citrus/grapefruit, strawberry, white pepper and tarragon aromas. Seven Hills offers the complexity of a well-balanced Rosé. It pairs well with the fruit, nuts, cheese, as well as the lettuce and vegetables of a salad.

2013 Barboursville Virginia Viognier Reserve $26.99
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barboursville viognier reserveThis award-winning Virginia state winery is known for its Viognier, a full-bodied wine with luscious pear, passion fruit and citrus fruit flavor. Viognier’s are aromatic wines featuring herbal and floral aromas. This wine pairs well with the richness of roasted root vegetables and meat.

2014 WillaKenzie Estate Oregon Pinot Gris $19.99
Find this wine:
Ratings: Wine Enthusiast 93 pointsWillakenzie estate pinot gris 2014

This velvety wine exhibits the minerality typical of  a cool climate Oregon Pinot Gris. Flavors of Granny Smith Apples, jasmine, and citrus make pairing with green beans and mushrooms successful.

2012 Domaine Serene Everstad Reserve Oregon Pinot Noir $54.99
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Ratings: Robert Parker 93, Wine Spectator 93

domain serene 2012 wine pairs with turkeyOregon Pinot Noir is often compared favorably to its Burgundy counterpart. This winery has some of the most sought-after wines in the US. The balance and complexity of this Pinot is amazing: bright berry, red currants, clove, earth, and smoke. It is aged in 65% new French oak barrels for 16 months.

2013 Terra d’Oro Deaver Ranch Old Vin Red Zinfandel Sierra Foothills California $25.99
Find this wine:
Ratings: Wine Enthusiast 90 pointsTerra d Oro Zin

This savory red zin can pair with smoked or deep-fried turkey. It offers aromas of blackberries, tobacco, dark cherry, and hints of mocha.

2012 Pacific Rim Washington State Vin de Glaciere Organic Riesling (Ice wine) $15.99/ 375 ml bottle
Find this wine:
Ratings: Wine Spectator 92 Pointspacific rim vin glace riesling pairs with pumpkin pie

Ice wine is made by freezing then pressing the grapes to concentrate the juice. The luscious sweetness and flavors of candied walnut, pear and honey are a good match for the pumpkin pie spices.





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