Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry, Oh My!

Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry, Oh My!


For people that love food, wine and spending time with loved ones, Thanksgiving just might be the perfect holiday.  It is the one time of year we assemble for a holiday that is all about dining and thankfully no major gift giving is involved. The traditional meal in our house consists of the infamous turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and green bean casserole to round out the plate.  The variety of dishes on the Thanksgiving table make it seem like finding the right wine is as likely as making it through dinner without another family feud.  However, there are quite a few wines that can be paired with a Thanksgiving dinner.

Sparkling wines are great matches for your turkey dinner especially if they have a touch of sweetness or at least ample fruit.  This allows them to stand up to the spices and herbs that are found in most of the dishes.  Try a Champagne or sparkler that is not bone dry. Extra Dry styles are the next step up in sweetness and you can find great examples in many price ranges from France or California.  My personal favorite is Italian Prosecco. Made in the Veneto region of Northeast Italy, Prosecco has fruit flavors of apple and citrus and many are semi-sparkling (less bubbly) making them softer as well as food friendly.

There are several white wine grape varieties that have both the fruit and acid to handle a Thanksgiving feast. My favorites are Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Viognier.  You can find great examples of these right here in America or from France, South Africa and Australia.  If you cannot bear to be without Chardonnay, try a lighter unoaked or unwooded style.  There some great ones coming out of California, Australia as well as New Zealand.

Don’t forget red wine. According to recent studies by the Wine Market Council red wine is preferred by 60% of wine drinkers. Fortunately there are several reds that will be a great addition to your Thanksgiving festivities.  Pinot Noirs and Beaujolais are a great options because they not only have great fruit flavors but enough acidity to stand up to the salt and acids found in many of the Thanksgiving dishes.  Syrah and Zinfandel are also good choices with jammy fruit and a touch of spice to complement the flavors on your plate.  Zinfandel is a California specialty but for Syrah (aka Shiraz) look for selections from Washington, Oregon, Australia and the Rhone Valley in France.

To add something new to this year’s dinner start with a sparkling wine and then serve several wines with the meal. To make things easier, ask people to bring a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir or a Syrah for instance.  This makes it easier for the host and then everyone can compare how each wine pairs with the various side dishes as well as the Turkey.  It adds a modern twist to your traditional meal!