Most wine writers and novice Somms start a Turkey Day paring with a Pinot Noir. Well that’s just incredibly boring, good but boring. Try something much more exciting and fun; Something that will play with your taste buds like Joey Jordison plays on his drums. The suggestions below will impress your guests and blow their minds. It did for me!
Let’s just get this one out of the way first, because it’s, you know, the main course. Turkey is so incredibly easy to pair because it’s so mild and should be, unless I’m cooking it, juicy. Now, we’re only dealing with your traditional baked Thanksgiving turkey here. I’ve spent enough time in the South that I could write a whole article on wines to pair with deep-fried turkeys and a turducken. If you don’t know what a turducken is, I dare you to Google it. Your mind will be blown.
One of my all-time favorite wines with Turkey is a German Gelber Muskateller. It’s a very aromatic white wine that is exotically fruity and floral. For anyone that thinks turkey is on the bland side, this is the wine to steer them towards. This is a bold choice for a pairing as each sip of the wine can fairly be compared to sucking on a lime candy. This fruity wine has just enough body to stand up to a double helping of Mom’s most flavorful turkey.
In all honesty though, pairing the turkey is the easy part. There are a lot of delicious wines that go well with the mild flavored bird. It’s finding something smooth and gentle enough for the turkey but able to stand up to some exuberant side dishes that is the challenge of the day.
2.Stuffing and Mashed Potatoes.
There are two ways I recommend you approach this pick. You’ve probably got two types of guests coming to your Thanksgiving feast. One that eats turkey and one that likes to eat all the sides. For the guests who enjoys turkey and all the fixin’s, I recommended a bold Spanish Garnacha. For the guests who prefer that you “hold the turkey,” I like to switch things up and offer a Vouvray.
I personally love a vibrant, floral, fruity Spanish Garnacha with baked turkey. Look for one with candied hibiscus notes and lots of red fruit flavors. A well paired Spanish Garnacha can almost take the place of cranberry sauce. It’s sweetness and tartness balances the herbs and richness of the turkey.
For the Vouvray, I prefer a Tendre style from the Loire Valley in France. The Tendre style has just a hint of sweetness. It’s a very food friendly wine and offers just enough sweetness to compliment the dense, rich, traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Additionally, it’s a divine pairing with yams or sweet potatoes if you are preparing them as well. I usually look for one with tasting notes that include hints of almonds and stone fruits.
Cranberries are the asparagus of the Thanksgiving meal. They are hard enough to pair with wine on their own but even harder to pair, being consumed as a side dish to turkey with stuffing, and mashed potatoes. This is where you surprise people and break out the oldest food pairing trick in the book: a tried and true Champagne.
What kind of holiday doesn’t involve Champagne? This food-friendly staple easily pairs with a wide variety of food and generally appeals to most palettes. The sparkling style transitions easily among different textures and flavors. A nice, dry Brut is a great bet to be able to stand up to the food without overpowering it.
Pie, especially pumpkin, tends to be rich with a heavier spice component. This makes pairing a regular table wine more difficult because you need something that doesn’t dull the sweetness of the pie and compliments, but doesn’t compete with the spices. My favorite go-to that always pleasantly pleases and excites my guests is a delicious Tawny Port.
Tawny Port represents Fall in a glass to me. It has notes of nut, caramel, and baking spices. It can also cut through the spice and highlight the creamy texture and even the subtle pumpkin flavor.
This Thanksgiving when you’re planning your meal and wine pairings, don’t be afraid to try something outside the box. Heck, try two or three things outside the box. At least one of them is bound to be a hit! Let us know your favorite wacky wine pairing in the comments below. We’re always looking to try something new!