Thanksgiving Wine Pairings – Traditional & Unique


If you enjoyed my Easter Wine Pairing post, this one just might be as useful. This Wine Wednesday, let’s discuss the wines – both traditional and unique – for Turkey Day!

Traditional Whites:

Sauvignon Blanc – This is a crisp, citrusy white wine that is also noted for its herbaceous flavors. Therefore, it will pair well with turkey and stuffing with fresh herbs.

My Traveling Vineyard Recommendation:

New Addition!

Chardonnay – Not all Chardonnays will work here. I’d opt for one with little to no oak, such as the Steeple Street Chardonnay below. However, if you favor buttery mashed potatoes, you could go all out and get that oaky butter chard to go right along with it! {Unless too much butter is overkill for you.}

My Traveling Vineyard Recommendation:

Poultry, mild meats and fish make the best pairings with this type of rich white. Turkey, roast pork and seared scallops would be wonderful matches as would dishes with fresh herbs, nuts, cheeses, butter and cream.”

Gewurztraminer – A white that most people think is sweet, but can be off-dry, too. It’s slight “spicy” with hints of nutmeg and floral notes. In fact, gewurz means “spicy” in German. This wine goes well with turkey and stuffing, especially when infused with herbs such as sage. Serving brown-sugared ham? Yeah, you betcha.

Non-Traditional White:

Torrontes – A little-known grape from Argentina will surely surprise and impress your guests. With a fruitiness that hints at a tad of sweetness, this wine has the slightly floral notes of Gewurztraminer. I find that white wine, red wine and even sweet-wine lovers alike all enjoy this wine. It’ll please everyone for different reasons!

My Traveling Vineyard Recommendation:

This wine’s uniqueness will surprise you!

Traditional Reds:

Pinot Noir – This wine, along with Beaujolais Nouveau, are traditional favorites around Thanksgiving-time. The lighter body of each pairs well with light meat like turkey. They are also easy-going enough to complement things like cranberries and cherries. Personally, I’m a Pinot Noir snob. In my opinion, it’s hard to find a decent one. So I’d recommend thinking outside the box (or bottle) and try something else this year instead.

Syrah/Shiraz – This is a red with more intensity and flavor, yet it graciously handles the cornucopia of flavors found in any traditional Thanksgiving meal.

My Traveling Vineyard Recommendation:

This French red is a actually a blend of Grenache and Syrah and is not for the faint-hearted. Lots of berries and spice and a bit of heft. Decanting recommended.

Zinfandel – The jammy and peppery notes of this bold red can still maintain a balancing effect on many traditional side dishes. This would be a great pick for those looking for a heartier wine with deeper flavors.

My Traveling Vineyard Recommendation:

Everyone’s been a fan of this Zinfandel and not because of the name or the silly label. It’s the flavor that’s been wowing my guests at tastings. A hint of pepper comes through, but is well balanced with fruit. In my opinion it’s THE perfect wine for a classic turkey dinner.

Non-Traditional Reds:

Red Blends – Of course, not all red blends are created equally; so not all will pair well with your thanksgiving meal. Look for something with the varietals above, or just experiment! Some labels will have descriptions that may give you a clue, too. But that’s all subjective, isn’t it?  My Traveling Vineyard recommendation below is made of 70% Merlot, 20% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petite Sirah. And it’s an exceptional red for grilled meats. Which means that if you are in warmer climes or dS just planning to do a non-traditional turkey on the grill, it’s a perfect match. Or consider using your turkey leftovers to make BBQ pulled turkey sammies the next day and serve this as the best accompaniment.

My Traveling Vineyard Recommendation:

The Merlot gives it balance while the Syrah gives it a bold quality to stand up to an array of spices and marinades!

Merlot – Speaking of merlot… Oh poor, poor misunderstood Merlot! After the movie Sideways, Merlot got a bad rap. However, Merlot is one of the most versatile wines! While those new to reds tend to think that Merlot is too “strong” or too “dry” for them, it’s actually a middle-of-the-road red. At my tastings, I recommend it as the wine to order in a restaurant when you just aren’t sure what will go with what you are eating. It usually pairs with pretty much anything…

My Traveling Vineyard Recommendation:

Don’t shy away from Merlot!

Rioja {joven} – What does this mean?! Rioja is made from the Tempranillo grape in Spain. However, the Riojas and/or Tempranillos that you are probably familiar with and love and are not what I am not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a Rioja that is a vino joven, or what I like to call a Baby Rioja. A vino joven is a young wine made in a newer style of Spanish reds and has seen much less oak than a typical Rioja {Crianzas, Reservas and Gran Reservas}. It’s lighter in color and body. And because it has less oak, the fruit shines through, very much like a Pinot Noir. It’s also a great wine for the newbie red wine drinker. However, Riojas like this are hard to find!

My Traveling Vineyard Recommendation:

A “Baby Rioja” seeing less oak so that the fruit flavors shine through…

And finally… for Dessert…

Arguably, the most traditional dessert at Thanksgiving is pie, particularly Pumpkin Pie.

Looking for a little beverage instead of dessert? Go for a little sweet bubbly. If you are having it with dessert, it needs to be sweeter than the dessert itself. Otherwise, the wine will taste bitter!

Or, if you want to be non-traditional, bring it to your Thanksgiving dinner instead of dessert. You will be thanked!

My Traveling Vineyard Recommendation:

For something new, try pairing this sweet effervescent wine with pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate-pumpkin biscotti or pecan pie.

If you’d like to order any of the recommended wines from The Traveling Vineyard, the deadline to order for Thanksgiving delivery is Thurs, November 9th, 5pm EST. You won’t be disappointed!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving wines or dishes?



13 responses »

  1. Thanks for this! I always see pinot noir listed as a recommended pairing for Thanksgiving, but that’s the only red wine I don’t like. I mean, there are some of each time I like and don’t like, but that’s the only one where I don’t like ANY of them.

  2. Excellent post! I love wine pairings. It’s so much fun. Thanksgiving I usually go for a Syrah. I don’t know why, it just pairs nicely for me. My brother gave me an excellent book for Christmas last year. It’s basically the bible of wine pairings. It has everything. It even has what wine to pair with a McDonald’s Big mac. Not that I’d do that but….still cool. 🙂

  3. I am liking the wine Wednesday. I like wine but, don’t know much about them or pairing them. I just know what tastes good. These guides will be so useful to look back at!

  4. Pingback: Wine Pairing & Giveaway Winner | Season It Already!

  5. Pingback: 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau Battle | Season It Already!

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