#WineWednesday: The Best Varietals for Your Thanksgiving Feast
A guide to Thanksgiving food and wine pairings.
Struggling to find the perfect wine for Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving? Stop searching, because we've selected 10 varietals and blends that will pair well with just about everything at your gathering.
Remember, these are just suggestions. Don't stress over wine pairings too much. Thanksgiving is a holiday, after all, which means, first and foremost, you should relax, converse and drink whatever you want.
If you only buy one kind of wine for Thanksgiving, make it a sparkling one. Not only does it put guests in the celebratory, holiday spirit, but it pairs perfectly with every dish. Champagne's, cava's and prosecco's effervescence and crisp, dry taste cut through creamy, salty dishes while enhancing acidic, fruity flavors in light appetizers or salads.
Our Recommendations: Rotari Brut Trentodoc, ~$20 or La Marca Prosecco, ~$13
Another versatile Thanksgiving wine, riesling pairs well with sweet potato casserole, turkey, ham or glazed carrots. Its minerality, acidity and fruit notes make it highly adaptable. Riesling is also a safe pairing with most desserts, like pumpkin pie or a spice cake.
Our Recommendations: Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling, ~$10 or Wittmann Trocken Riesling, ~$20-30
The champion of holiday wines, pinot noir plays nice with most white meats, mushrooms and stuffing. It's light-bodied yet silky, warm and earthy with notes of juicy berries and plum. Pinot noirs also taste lovely with chocolatey desserts.
Our Recommendations: Meiomi Pinot Noir, ~$25 or Calista Coastal Range Pinot Noir, ~$20
Ah, the most classic of classic Thanksgiving wines, Beaujolais Nouveau is always released on the third Thursday in November, as is tradition in its namesake region. This light-bodied, easy-drinking, fruit-forward wine is the perfect companion to casseroles, mashed potatoes and turkey with gravy. It's not meant to be aged and often falls in the $12 or under price range, so drink up!
Our Recommendations: Jean Foillard Beaujolais Nouveau, ~$20 or Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages, ~$13
One of the lesser-known white varietals, Gewurztraminer features spicy, zesty notes, rose aromas and bold citrus flavors like lychee and grapefruit. While usually paired with spicy Asian dishes, try a late-harvest, sweeter Gewurztraminer with pumpkin pie for an unexpected duo. Allspice, clove and nutmeg flavors in the wine enhance pumpkin pie's spicy, warm flavors.
Our Recommendations: Castello di Amorosa 2013 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, ~$39 or Willm 2013 Reserve Gewurztraminer, ~$15
Approachable, affordable and full-bodied, wines from Spain's Rioja region are great options for a Thanksgiving meal. Oaky Gran Reservas hold up to hearty, savory dishes like stuffing and gravy, while fruity Crianzas don't overwhelm vegetable-centric sides.
Our Recommendations: El Coto de Rioja Crianza 2010, ~$12 or Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Gran Reserva, ~$30
Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris
This might come as a surprise, but white wines actually pair perfectly with most Thanksgiving dishes. Pinot grigio/gris is no exception. Try these crisp, acidic varietals with creamy vegetable casseroles. Pinot gris holds up to rich, cheesy dishes better than most white wines because of its spicy aromas and round, complex flavor. Pinot grigio tends to be slightly more delicate and fruit-forward with dry minerality.
Our Recommendations: Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Alto Adige, ~$22 or Kofererhof Pinot Grigio, ~$25
Another white wine for your Thanksgiving table, sauvignon blanc is a great companion to Brussels sprouts, raw vegetables, green beans, salads, cheese and crispy, salty dishes. Sauvignon blanc boasts citrus and herbaceous aromas with clean, lively acidity.
Our Recommendations: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, ~$15 or Greywacke Wild Sauvignon, ~$30
You thought rose went away when summer ended? Think again. Rose is the unsung hero of Thanksgiving food-and-wine pairings. Its bright minerality cuts through creamy macaroni and cheese while perfectly complementing cranberries' sweet tartness. Rose's light-bodied, fruit-forward, floral aromas make it extremely versatile and easy to drink. Try it with turkey, too!
Our Recommendations: Miraval Cotes de Provence Rose, $18-30 depending on location or La Promenade Rose Cotes de Provence, ~$10
Ports are traditionally drunk after the meal as a digestif and alongside desserts. Ruby ports pair well with dark chocolate desserts, apple pie and cheesecake. Tawny ports, which are usually drier, pair better with creme brulee, pumpkin pie and hard cheeses. Be careful though, these sweet, nutty, berry-flavored wines have a much higher alcohol content at 20 percent.
Our Recommendations: Taylor Fladgate 10 Year-Old Tawny Port, ~$32 or Warre's Otima 10 Year Tawny Port, ~$25