Thanksgiving Wines to Savor

Nov 19 2014

by Kyla Cox


Thanksgiving is a holiday made special by its traditions.  We look forward to this day all year, but choosing vino to accompany this much anticipated feast can be confusing. If turkey were the only dish eaten at Thanksgiving, it would be easy to choose the perfect wine!  But many other dishes share the spotlight with the turkey, and it’s all those side dishes, plus regional and family preferences, that make wine pairings for Thanksgiving dinner especially difficult.

Try these options for a variety of crowd-pleasing wines: 

A bubbly is a lovely way to start your Turkey Day celebration, so think about a Cava from Spain, a Prosecco from Italy, or a sparkler from California.  These are good choices because they are light, crisp, and dry, and they prepare the palate and the appetite for the meal to come without being heavy or filling.  (And they won’t break the bank like more expensive Champagnes would!)  Look for the word “Brut” (dry) on the label.  For something a little uncommon, consider a Vinho Verde from Portugal.  This is a bright, refreshing wine with a slight effervescence that will delight your guests. A sparkling red wine such as Lambrusco is also sure to please and will add some unexpected fun to your feast.

For white wine lovers, a dry to off-dry Riesling is ideal.  Its natural acidity makes it the perfect food wine, cleansing the palate in preparation for the next bite.  If Riesling just doesn’t fit the bill, Chardonnay is another option, but make sure it’s “naked” (unoaked), as oak can interfere with the tastes of the foods.  However, if there is sage, mushrooms or sausage in your dressing or stuffing, this is a good reason to consider a red wine instead. These ingredients may make white wines taste bitter.  Alternative options for white wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Torrontés and Viognier.

Rosé is not just for spring and summer, so think pink for Thanksgiving!   The red fruit and berry flavors of a crisp, dry rosé make it an excellent food wine—it’s superb with baked ham.  Côtes de Provence rosés from the Provence region of southern France are made from Grenache and Cinsault grapes and are mostly dry, light, and fresh.  Or look to the Tavel rosés from the Rhône Valley of France; they are dry and usually more full-bodied than most rosés, made mostly from Grenache.

Red wine lovers can’t go wrong with light- to medium-bodied wines such as Pinot Noir, Merlot or Chianti Classico. These will stand up well to the sage and herbs used throughout your meal. Want a red that’s a little more full-bodied?  Consider an Argentine Malbec, a Chilean Carmenère, a Spanish Garnacha or Tempranillo, or a robust Cabernet Sauvignon—lots of ripe, red fruit, structure, and tannins that will pair deliciously with roasted turkey and roasted vegetable side dishes.

Finally, with dessert, be sure that the wine you serve is sweeter than the dessert, and that the weight of the wine matches the weight of the dessert.  Serving a chocolate dessert? Red wines that often pair well include a Pinot Noir or a light-bodied Merlot for milk chocolate, and for dark chocolate, a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, or Grenache.  What goes well with the iconic pumpkin pie?  A late harvest Riesling or cream sherry fits the bill.

Happy Thanksgiving… Cheers!



SPECIAL EVENT: Thanksgiving Wine Pairings Made Easy!

 You’re invited to “try before you buy” at Savor Wine Boutique on Wed., November 19th from 5:30-7:30 or Sat., November 22nd  from 2-5 where we will be pouring amazing (and affordable!)  options to accompany your holiday meal. All guests must be 21 and older with valid ID. Samples while supplies last only.

Savor Wine Boutique @Kirkwood Station 

1963 Hosea L. Williams Drive – Atlanta, GA 30317 – Phone: 404.254.5044


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