Wine Pairings for Your Thanksgiving Table

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Turkey (or tofurkey for you plant-based diners) day is coming! One of the most important aspects of the Thanksgiving holiday meal is the wine selection, but choosing the perfect bottle to pair with what is sure to be a multiple course dinner doesn’t have to be stressful! Here’s a handy guide to help steer you in the right direction when it comes to selecting the best varietals to pair with each dish.

The ideal match for a Thanksgiving meal would consist of a combination of red, white, sparkling and dessert wines. Red fruit flavors in Zinfandel pair well with many autumn spices like cinnamon, clove and allspice, and it complements dark meat turkey with its smoky flavor profile. If you could choose just one wine to have on your table, I’d make it a Zin.

Another great choice as far as reds go would be a younger (read: fruity) Pinot Noir, which is perfect to pair with creamy side dishes like mashed potatoes or green bean casserole. I often throw in a bottle of Beaujolais too, because not only is it an affordable crowd pleaser, it pairs well with cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, salads, and white meat turkey.

If you’re looking for white wines, it’s best to avoid Chardonnay because the intensity (and oakiness) of the wine will overpower everything about your feast. It’s better to seek out something crisp and refreshing with a low acidity that won’t blow out your palate. Good varietals to try are Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Viognier, and Gewurztraminer. These wines range from floral and fruity to grassy and slightly sweet, and all are perfect to pair with Thanksgiving dinner.

You also can’t go wrong with a bottle of bubbly! Sparkling wine is often regarded as a must-have for Thanksgiving not only due to its general festiveness but because it’s excellent to pair with hors d’oeuvres, it’s bold enough to drink with the main course, and it’s the perfect palate cleanser for rich side dishes like gravy.

I’m not one to forget about the dessert course, but which wines go well with the classic and ubiquitous pumpkin pie? Think outside the box here and pick a Sauternes (watch out: make sure the wine you select has that “s” at the end of the name and comes from France or else you’ll be pouring out a cheap bottle of “Sauterne”). Sauternes generally has sweet vanilla and peach notes that’s extra tasty after a big meal. Ditto for Muscat and Gewurztraminer (served well chilled, of course). Port will also always be the “fancy” if traditional choice to end a meal.

We here at The Grape Geeks would like to wish all of our readers a very happy Thanksgiving holiday spent with family and friends. Cheers!

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