When I think about planning my Thanksgiving Menu one of my favorite aspects of the meal to plan is the wine. I love finding different wines and varietals to pair with the meal. One year I set up little placards in front of each bottle alerting guests to what wine went with which part of the meal, there was even one that paired perfectly with mashed potatoes. I find that suggesting that something goes well together is a great way to get guests to step outside their comfort zone and try something new. Thanksgiving Wine pairings should bring out the best in the food and extenuate your menu.
Thanksgiving Wine Pairings
Starter Wines for Thanksgiving Appetizers
Sometimes you need a little something to get the crowd circulating or maybe you need a way to occupy guests while you finish up the meal preparations or maybe you’re like me and just need a little drink to calm your nerves before the guests arrive. Whatever your reason a sparkling wine is the perfect way to start any holiday.
Prosecco is a sparkling italian white wine that can range from dry to semi sweet. For me this is the perfect start to a holiday meal because it’s clean and light and won’t leave a lot of aftertaste or sugar on your palette. It also is a good lead into whatever wine you will choose to pair with your meal. There are a lot of great Prosecco’s, I tend to go with Cupcake Prosecco because it has a great price point and isn’t too dry.
Nothing says kicking off the holiday season like a sparkling red wine. Banfi’s Rosa Regale has long been a favorite of mine and if it’s on a menu I have a hard time not ordering it. It’s just sweet enough with hints of strawberry and raspberry, that even your moscato loving friends will enjoy this.
Wine To Drink with Thanksgiving Dinner
I’m always torn on what to have with Thanksgiving dinner. On the one hand a part of me always wants a good glass of red wine when the weather is cold, on the other hand white traditionally goes with Turkey and it does pair exceptionally well. I offer my guests both red and white wine and I let them decide. And there really is no rule that you can’t start with red and move to white or vice versa.
White Wines For Thanksgiving
Sauvignon Blanc is a great match with Turkey and a slightly different choice from your more traditional whites (I’m looking at you Pinot Grigio). It’s a dry white wine that won’t over power your meal. When chilled a Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and delicious. I’ve enjoyed 30 Degrees Sauvignon Blanc and Estancia’s Sauvignon Blanc.
Chardonnay pairs well with just about every aspect of Thanksgiving dinner. A good buttery Chardonnay is the perfect soul mate of creamy mashed potatoes. It also pairs well with apples and squash, making this a great go-to white wine if you want to offer only one type of white wine. Charles Smith Eve Chardonnay is a perfect pick for Thanksgiving and I love the whimsical apple on the label.
Red Wines For Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving dinner should be the main event, so I tend to steer clear of big bold reds that might overpower the meal.
Pinot Noir pairs well with falls spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove (save a little for the pumpkin pie). It’s also a wine that I’ve never gone wrong with. Even my beer loving best friend, has been known to call dibs on his favorite bottle of Pinot Noir. That’s because Pinot Noir is velvety, smooth and so easy to drink. Last holiday season we enjoyed Erath Pinot Noir, and it’s definitely been on my short list of favorites.
No, I didn’t forget the word “white” I mean Zinfandel as in red wine, not the pink stuff your best friends mom drinks. A red Zinfandel can be jammy and smooth with hints of fruit. For me Zinfandel is one of my favorite wines to serve when I want to offer red but don’t want something that screams, “I pair well with red meat”. Tussock Jumper Zinfandel is a wine I picked strictly cause I loved the label and the price, and ended up really loving the wine.
Dessert Wines to Pair with Your Pies
I’m going to let you in on a little secret, at most meals I would pick a second glass of wine over, having dessert but not on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not complete without some pumpkin pie. If you have a wine loving crowd definitely pick up a good Port to serve as your dessert wine. But if you don’t then skip the dessert wine, and have a glass of whatever was your favorite. This is what I typically do. Usually by the end of the meal I just want to enjoy a glass of wine and some pie covered in whipped cream.
If you are worried that your crowd won’t like the wines you picked or that some won’t be wine drinkers. Ask them what they like and try to point them in the right direction. I have friends who only drink sweet wines (which I don’t tend to drink) and usually I can steer them towards a wine that they will like. Also ask them what their favorite part of the meal is and then lead them to a wine that pairs well with that. And when in doubt almost everyone will drink white wine, no matter what kind it is.
Remember that the star of the meal is the food and that the wine is just there to compliment it so don’t over think or stress about it. The most important thing is to have enough wine to go around and always an extra bottle or two in case you run out. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!