More Thanksgiving wine is sold than for any other holiday dinner. Because there are normally a variety of foods that are part of a Thanksgiving dinner menu, choosing which wines to pair with which foods can often be overwhelming.
The most important tip to remember is that there are no longer any steadfast rules for choosing Thanksgiving wines. If you’re unsure of what guests will enjoy, keep it simple and stick with a variety of less complex wines. Keep in mind that the taste of the wine should complement the food that is being served. Take a look at this food and wine pairing chart to become more knowledgeable about choices for pairing Thanksgiving wine with food. With a little bit of planning, choosing the right wine can be enjoyable. Here are suggestions for some of the best wines to serve at the Thanksgiving dinner table:
Sparkling wine is perfect for a celebration of any kind, and is excellent served with Thanksgiving Appetizers. Only wine produced in Champagne, France can actually be called Champagne. In other parts of the world, they are referred to as sparkling wines.
As guests arrive, pour a glass of bubbly in champagne flutes for them and serve a variety of cheese, crackers, cured meats, and nuts. A Brut sparkling wine is drier (as opposed to a sparkling wine such as Asti Spumante), meaning that Brut contains less residual sugar and is perfect for foods that contain salt and oil.
White wines for a Thanksgiving dinner menu should include varietals that are crisp, refreshing, and slightly tangy. White wines pair well with a variety of Thanksgiving foods including seafood, poultry, and pork. Popular white wines in this category include:
Viognier- Peachy, apricot, and wood aromas are perfect for Thanksgiving appetizers or to serve with the main course.
Sauvignon Blanc - A dry, light, crisp white wine with herbal, olive, and soft smoky flavors. This wine is perfect to serve with roasted turkey and stuffing.
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris – Depending upon where the wine was produced determines whether it is called Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris. Most Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris is dry with fruit flavors of pear, apple, and hints of lemon. This Thanksgiving wine works well with most Thanksgiving foods as well as pasta dishes and salads.
Pinot Noir - This is an excellent choice for a Thanksgiving wine. Contrary to popular belief, some reds wines pair very nicely with poultry and seafood. Pinot Noir is not a heavy red wine (such as a Cabernet) and the flavors of Pinot Noir are delicately spicy with hints of smoke, red berries, plums, and cherries.
Syrah/Shiraz - This varietal has flavors of spices and berries with often a hint of black pepper and pairs easily with Thanksgiving foods including grilled or roasted poultry or game as well as red meat. In France, California and other Southwest areas of the United States, the grape is known as Syrah; in Australia it is known as Shiraz.
Tempranillo – This varietal is gaining in popularity and can easily be included as a Thanksgiving wine. The flavors include plum, cherry, and strawberry mixed with hints of leather and spice.
Zinfandel – Although many red zinfandels can be classified as hearty red wine, Zinfandel pairs well with roasted meats and poultry. If your guests prefer a heartier wine, this is an excellent choice for the Thanksgiving dinner table. Zinfandel is rich and dark and features flavors such as blackberry, cherry and black pepper.
Holiday gatherings and Christmas wines bring excitement to entertaining. With all of the planning that goes into holiday dinners and parties, the wine list should be kept to a small, well chosen selection that will satisfy all guests. Choosing the right wines for Christmas can be a daunting task! Here are guidelines to help navigate through the many wine choices: