Thanksgiving dinner presents a challenge of abundance for those who care about meal presentation. The juicy oven-roasted turkey. The savoury stuffing. The sweet yams and fluffy mashed potatoes. The rich gravy and tart cranberry sauce. All topped off with traditional pumpkin or pecan pie. Such a medley of flavours, textures and aromas! How do you go about finding the right wines that pair perfectly with each serving? Our best advice is always to trust your tastes, but if you are looking for some rules of thumb, here are some of our tried-and-true suggestions...
For white wine lovers, there is nothing like a dry or off-dry German or Alsatian style wine. The abundant acidity and residual sweetness of these wines are strong enough to stand up to the saltiness of herbed stuffing and even the most decadent gravy! For that matter, a buttery Chardonnay will complement a rich stuffing, and a crisp Sauvignon Blanc will help cut through the richness of the sauces. Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Siegerrebbe, Ehrenfelser, both dry and off-dry, also all work perfectly with traditional Thanksgiving offerings.
For red wine lovers, we recommend a light to medium bodied and fruitier style of wine, as they have softer tannins and will complement, rather than compete with, the different flavour profiles in your meal. A well-balanced Pinot Noir or fresh-tasting Beaujolais will almost always work—and even a zesty Zinfandel will do the trick if you like something with more body and lots of fruit.
And let’s not forget the bubbles. Every celebratory dinner should start with bubbles! Prosecco, Cava, Champagne or any number of sparkling wines are great as an aperitif to get the festivities started on the right note.
Research shows that the thing people remember most, from just about any personal experience, is the ending. So to ensure a memorable evening, be sure to finish off with a well-chosen dessert wine. Whether with a fruit-based flavour bomb or a pipe-and-slippers port, you’ll want to cap off the night’s story with a satisfying epilogue-in-a-glass.