Best Wine For Thanksgiving: Pairings For Each Course

Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday, originally established as a day to celebrate a successful harvest. How better could a successful harvest be celebrated than endless plates of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie? With wine, that’s how. You can also throw in family, friends, and football.

Although Thanksgiving may not be considered a traditional heavy-drinking holiday—think 4th of July or New Year’s Eve—it’s still a time of celebration. In times of celebration, people tend to increase their alcohol consumption. Especially in recent years, the amount of drinking from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve has noticeably gone up.

While it can seem like a daunting statistic to see drinking increase drastically around the holidays, it’s simply because people often enjoy a nice beer or glass of wine with their holiday dinner.

For the upcoming Thanksgiving, keep in mind your family or friends will likely want to have a glass of wine with their dinner. By bringing a couple of intentionally chosen bottles, you can show your family just how much your taste has evolved over the years.

Those bottles do not need to be fancy or expensive. However, by taking the time to learn what kind of wine goes with which foods, you’ll quickly become the favorite family member at Thanksgiving.

Check out the following wines to pair with each Thanksgiving course.

Wines perfect for Thanksgiving appetizers

While each family may have different Thanksgiving traditions, there’s no doubting the fact that there will be some snacking going on before the big dinner.

Whether your family likes to have an early afternoon appetizer spread, a light breakfast, or something else, make sure there’s a bottle or two sitting out ready to go.

Before the big meal, many families like to go with soup, salad, or maybe a charcuterie board. To go along with a light snack, you need a light wine, and preferably a sparkling wine. Sparkling wines are versatile, crisp, and the perfect way to cleanse your palate before another meal. Plus, they’re easy to drink.

However, if you’re not into something sparkling, you can opt for a Sauvignon Blanc. This white wine has similar characteristics but does not have bubbles.

Whether you’re more into reds or whites, there are some options for you. Consider the following 3 options as your best bets for a perfect Thanksgiving appetizer pairing.

La Marca Prosecco—the ideal crisp wine with tastes of lemon and apple. Perfect to pair with cheese, salads, and even seafood.

Gracida Rose—a well-crafted rose perfect for any occasion. Pairs excellently with light cheeses.

Babich Sauvignon Blanc—as a well-rounded sav blanc, the Babich goes well with cheeses, salad, or anything green. Plus, it will carry on well throughout the rest of your meal.

Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner

When you think of a classic Thanksgiving dinner, turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, rolls, and other dishes all come to mind.

However, many families may do their Thanksgiving differently. In the south, you may find a deep-fried turkey or a turkey rubbed with chili seasoning. You may even find a duck or ham featured in some Thanksgiving dinners.

Wine pairings with traditional dinner

Whether you’re a red wine or white wine drinker, you’ll have a perfect match for your Thanksgiving dinner. First and foremost, you have to have a roast turkey to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, which means that’s likely the centerpiece.

Depending on how you roast your turkey, you may have different pairings.

Since an herb-roasted turkey is pretty traditional, that’s what we’ll base our wine pairings on. To go with this kind of turkey, you have a couple of options for both red and white.

First, for contrasting purposes, slightly sweet wine with tasteful acidity is perfect to pair with a salty turkey, especially when you eat it with gravy, mashed potatoes, and stuffing.

Try out this Kung Fu Girl Riesling by Charles Smith. It’s a beautiful wine with citrus flavors, a medium body, and the perfect acidity level. You won’t find a better Riesling for the versatility it brings in pairing with sweet cranberry sauce or a rich piece of turkey.

Alternatively, in the same vein, you could stick with a Sauvignon Blanc as it goes great with turkey, thanks to its herbal hints and acidity.

If you’re more into red wines, you can never go wrong with a Pinot Noir. For several reasons, these wines pair wonderfully with a Thanksgiving dinner. First, they have the ideal acidity level to bring out the flavor in turkey, stuffing, and sweet potatoes.

Secondly, the mild tannin levels work well with salads, green beans, Brussels sprouts, or the other greens on your table.

For your red wine needs, consider the Menage a Trois Pinot Noir. With a hint of cherries, slight violet notes, and a smooth finish, you’ll love this pinot with everything on your plate.

Alternatively, you can opt for a Grenache, like this Honoro Vera. It brings a fruity and floral flavor that’s easy to drink and pairs easily with any meat or salty plate.

Wine pairings for a Southern Style/Spicy Thanksgiving Dinner

We have just the right wines for your dinner for those families that like a bit of spice in all that they eat. As you eat your cumin-covered potatoes and chili-laden turkey, you’ll need something cool, crisp, and a bit sweet to cool your mouth down. Traditionally, spicy food is paired with something with a lower alcohol to allow you to drink more to alleviate that sweet burn.

To do just that job, try the Beringer White Zinfandel. It’s a fresh wine with beautiful color and an even better taste. This wine comes with a hint of berries and a citrus aroma. Cool it down on ice or in the fridge before serving, and you’ll be pouring your second glass upon eating in no time.

If you want another option, consider the Bottega Vinai Pinot Grigio. It has a tart citrus flavor with a clean aftertaste that will aid in your recovery from a mouth full of spice.

If you’re more into red wines, you’re still in luck. Just like a traditional dinner, a wine like a Pinot Noir is sure to be a house favorite when the spicy food comes out. They’re light enough not to dominate your tongue yet flavorful enough to compliment your food.

Try this Banshee Pinot Noir. It has a bright red fruit flavor with a slight floral note. To finish, it brings an earthy and red tea flavor, perfect for rinsing your mouth of the heat.

Another great red wine option for combating spice is this Joseph Drouin Beaujolais. It provides a fruity flavor with raspberry and cherry taking hold. With a smooth finish and a bit of a licorice taste, you’ll be rid of any leftover spice and ready for more.

Dessert wines for Thanksgiving

Once the appetizers and the main course are out of the way, you have one more thing to look forward to—dessert. No Thanksgiving is complete without a heavy serving of pie. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pumpkin pie or a pecan pie kind of person; dessert wine goes with all.

For pies, the best wine options are typically those that are late-harvest wines like fortified wines. However, keep in mind that fortified wines are much different than your standard glass of red or white.

Fortified wines have an added spirit, giving them a higher alcohol content and a unique taste. If you’re interested in trying different fortified wines with dessert, you can find a port wine, sherry, marsala, muscatel, or Madeira.

However, for Thanksgiving purposes, your best bet is to go with a bottle of port wine, as they go wonderfully with pie at the end of your meal. When you buy a port wine, you’re getting a wine that specifically comes from the Douro Valley in Portugal.

Port wine is sweet, as brandy is added mid-way through the wine’s fermentation process. This makes it the perfect wine to end the evening.

Try out this Robert Hall Port with your favorite Thanksgiving pie. It has hints of berries and a smooth finish—just what you want as the evening winds down.

The takeaway

When it comes to Thanksgiving and wine pairings, it’s hard to go wrong. First of all, your family and friends will appreciate you bringing wine to the party.

Maybe even after a few glasses, nobody will know the difference between the Sauvignon Blanc they ate with their appetizer and the Pinot Gris they had with dinner.

If you are looking for a place to start with wine pairings for Thanksgiving, this is a great place to start. Follow with some of the suggestions, and even the fussiest drinkers in your family will be happy.

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