What wine goes best with Thanksgiving Turkey?
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Not because I necessarily buy the whole Pilgrims and Native Americans breaking bread together story but because of what it meant in my immediate circles.
When I was a child Thanksgiving meant that I got to see all of my cousins and fight with my Daddy over the last piece of my cousin Gwen’s broccoli Cheez-It casserole. Nowadays I unfortunately don’t see much of my family. They’ve all scattered across the US for jobs, spouses, and the like, but I do take the time to make a big meal for all of my friends. I do most of the cooking and the only thing I ask in return? Bring a bottle of wine.
Why choosing rosé for Thanksgiving feast?
Anyone who tells you that can’t have rose in the fall is a fool. The rule I always heard was that Thanksgiving was the last acceptable time to have rose (though I say drink it any time you please). I suspect that may have been merely because there wasn’t much on the market 10 years ago. Regardless, it is an excellent complement to any Thanksgiving feast. Not only is it versatile, pairing well with the hodgepodge of sides that tend to accompany a Thanksgiving feast, it also serves as a great aperitif. Because, let’s be real; no one has the turkey on the table as soon as folks start to arrive.
White Burgundy + Turkey = ultimate match
My absolute favorite for Thanksgiving has, and likely always will be, White Burgundy. Nothing tastes quite as good with a perfectly roasted turkey with that crispy, crispy skin like the crisp, mineral and tropical fruit laden taste of something like a cold glass of French Chardonnay. Even an unclassified Burgundy really hits to spot for me with turkey. It has the weight you want to coat your mouth a bit, minerality lending some savory elements and fruit rounding everything out.
It gets even better as you let it come up to room temperature which is great news considering this is likely to happen by accident at a home gathering anyway. If I’m playing favorites anything from Meursault or Chassagne Montrachet will be just glorious though a St-Aubin or Macon will do nicely as well.
Pinot Noir: eternal classic of Thanksgiving day
Pinot Noir is the classic in this situation. It’s a lighter, generally easy to drink red that pairs well with most things that make an appearance in a Thanksgiving spread. It’s highly acidic, often fruit forward profile makes it an easy choice. I tend to lean towards more cooler climate Pinot Noirs for meals like this that are heavy on the butter and animal.
Hofgut Falkenstein out of Germany’s Mosel does a killer Spätburgunder (their word for Pinot Noir) that is all cranberries, dried rose petals and fall leaves. Hillinger, over in Austria, does a really light and bright little number called Eveline that is so soft and juicy it’s hard to share. Northern California and Burgundy are also a good call here. Claudie Jobard does a lovely Rully, ‘La Chaume,’ that usually clocks in under €25 and lends some more savory notes and for California I’d say stick to Sonoma and Mendocino.
Sometimes you doubt and that’s where tech becomes handy! Wine Picker, a free food and wine matching app for Android and iOS will help you find the right wine for your Thanksgiving meal.
Italian wines for Thanksgiving Feast
Feeling like an Italian? Barbera is a glorious pairing. I love it with stuffing in particular, especially if you threw in some turkey drippings. Because of its natural acidity it does a great job cutting through any animal fat or butter you may have lubricated your stuffing with. The fruit is generally on the dried and candied side which reads more like a good compote. It pairs with your turkey much like a cranberry sauce would. If you can get your hands on it, the 2014 Tenuta La Merdiana’s ‘La Gagie’ Barbera d’Asti is stellar for the price, usually about €20.
Feeling adventurous? I’ll always try to sneak in a Grignolino. They generally are full of dried fruit, a little funk and are effortlessly light. La Casaccia over in Asti does a great one that’s very approachable and generally around €10 or so.
Truthfully, there’s no wrong way to go here. Think about the things that go the fastest on the table, about the kind of people you’ll have over, when and with what you’ll be drinking the wine. And if you really just can’t make up your mind there’s always Champagne.