The Best Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving Meals
When thinking of the best wine to serve for Thanksgiving dinner, your first instinct might be to pair the wine with your turkey. After all, turkey is the most iconic Thanksgiving dish and likely it’s the centerpiece of your table! However, think “outside the bird” and consider pairing your wine to your side dishes instead. After all, you’ll likely be serving more than one bottle of wine at dinner, so you might as well accommodate different tastes, preferences and dishes to pair the wine with.
Generally, lighter wines work better with a Thanksgiving feast than more complex wines. And, as always, the wine you enjoy drinking pairs well with everything! But, if you’re looking to shake things up with some new wines to complement Thanksgiving dinner, check out the recommendations below:
Budget tip: If you’re looking to save money this Thanksgiving, a good way to spruce up an inexpensive wine (even a high-quality box wine) is to make it into sangria for the table. Sangria is typically a crowd-pleaser due to its light, easy-drinking quality. By adding in some festive fall fruits like persimmon or cranberries and serving the sangria in a beautiful glass pitcher, it can feel just as special as a pricey bottle of wine. Keep reading to find a delicious sangria recipe at the end of this article.
Best Sparkling Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner
While serving sparkling wine is a fun and festive way to greet guests as they arrive, it also makes a fantastic wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. The bubbles help to lighten the heavier dishes, especially anything made with butter, cream or copious amounts of delicious cheese. Just avoid any too-sweet sparkling wines, as these can overpower the palate. For a more affordable bottle than traditional French Champagne, try Italian prosecco which is often crisp and citrusy, or a Spanish cava. Sparkling wine is also a favorite wine to sip on while you cook, cooling you off as the kitchen heats up from the stove and oven while helping to start the festive mood!
For something extra special, treat your guests to a bottle of sparkling red wine. A sparkling Lambrusco is light and bright while the harder-to-find sparkling Syrah has more depth.
Best White Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner
You may be leaning toward white wine to serve with your turkey dinner, but think beyond basic Chardonnay for some lesser-known varietals that pair well with your feast. Chenin blanc, for example, offers the subtle essences of pear, apple and honey that compliment traditional Thanksgiving dishes like green bean casserole.
If you’re leaning toward Riesling, opt for a dry Riesling instead of a sweet one. The aromatic varietal goes well with rich Thanksgiving sides like mashed potatoes and gravy that are creamy and salty. If you’re looking to keep your wine American (as a fun Thanksgiving tradition), check out Rieslings from Washington state. Gewurztraminer is a varietal similar to Riesling that comes from the German word gewurtz – meaning “spiced.”
Best Red Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner
When picking out red wines for Thanksgiving, make sure to pick varietals that are lower in tannins (that wine quality that makes your mouth feel dry after taking a sip). Pinot Noirs are the best-known lighter red wines, with soft berry notes that work well with turkey and Thanksgiving sides. For a USA pick, try a bottle from Oregon, a state producing incredible Pinot Noirs.
One of the classic Thanksgiving wine pairings is Beaujolais, since the newest bottles of the wine (Beaujolais Nouveau) are released the third week of November, just in time for the holiday! The young French red wine is fresh and light, made from Gamay grapes, and typically is very affordable.
Best Rosé Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner
Rosé isn’t just for summer! This crisp and light style of wine ranges from dry to sweet, but stick with dry or balanced varietals for your Thanksgiving feast. You can’t go wrong with a French Provencal rosé, one of the best-known options for a light, refreshing wine that you can drink all day and through the evening.
For a festive twist, try a sparkling rosé with bubbles to cut through the heavier side dishes on your Thanksgiving table. In addition to pairing well with classics like scalloped potatoes and stuffing, sparkling rosé compliments cranberry dishes with its red fruit notes.
Best Dessert Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner
Even if your wine budget is on the low end, adding in one bottle of dessert wine can make the meal feel decadent and special without breaking the bank. The reason? Servings of dessert are typically small and guests usually stick to one glass, since it’s so sweet; meaning you can purchase just one bottle for the entire group.
For a white dessert wine, consider muscat, featuring notes of orange that pair well with pumpkin pie. For a red, try Port which goes fantastically well with pecan pie, complimenting the nuttiness. Or, serve dessert wine instead of a traditional Thanksgiving dessert, a welcome switch if your guests are too full from dinner to even think about a slice of pie!
Pomegranate and Persimmon Sangria Recipe
- 1 persimmon, sliced
- ½ cup pomegranate arils
- ½ cup pomegranate juice
- 1.5 liter red wine
- ¼ cup brandy
- Add the sliced persimmon and pomegranate arils to a punch bowl or pitcher and crush gently with a wooden spoon.
- Top with the pomegranate juice, red wine and brandy and chill for a few hours or overnight.
- Taste and add granulated sugar, if you’d like it sweeter.
- Serve with ice, ensuring a couple pieces of fruit land in each glass. Garnish with pomegranates, persimmon, or an orange slice.