You’ve planned and prepped for your Thanksgiving meal and then suddenly you remember: wine! (Or is that just me?) I generally drink wines I like, no matter what’s on the table–I’m easy that way. The Thanksgiving challenge is that there’s so much on the table, with so many bold, rich flavors, it’s hard to figure out how to pair wines with Thanksgiving dinner. However putting a little bit of thought into your Thanksgiving wines can help keep you from serving ones that clash with the many flavors of the day.
Nothing too fancy, though; all of my Thanksgiving wine picks are $20 or less.
Whether you go for white or red (or one of each like I do), look for everyday wines that go well with food, but can stay in the background. Think of wine as a quiet complement to the main event of the meal–don’t go opening that $500 bottle of Barolo you’ve been saving.
Also, stay away from wines that are very big and bold, or that have a lot of oak or wood flavor. Instead, look for wines with higher acidity (to help clean the palate of the many flavors that will bombard it) and a touch of sweetness.
Red Wines for Thanksgiving
I’d say the most popular and versatile choice for a Thanksgiving red wine is a Pinot Noir. Light bodied with bright and tart berry flavors, Pinot Noir is typically a better choice than a big, richly spiced Cabernet or a Merlot. In fact, though a single wine pairing for the whole Thanksgiving feast can be hard to pin down, a decent Pinot Noir comes incredibly close. It goes well with turkey and the fixings, too. (Mmmm…fixings.)
-If you can find it, Montinore Estate makes a lovely Oregon Pinot Noir that’s affordable, organic, and tastes great.
–Ritual Casablanca Valley Pinot Noir from South America is also a great value with a silky finish and the flavor of plum and berries.
-Heading back to the west coast of the States, Schug Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is light and bright, but with some smoky undertones for those of you who prefer earthier wines.
-If you really don’t like Pinot Noir, go for a Zinfandel like this Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel This wine is bigger than the pinots, but still versatile. It’s a particularly great choice if you’re making a Thanksgiving meal with kick; say, that cranberry jalapeno chutney.
White wines for Thanksgiving
When it comes to whites, you can go one of two ways: a creamy, fuller-bodied white that has a touch of oak (my preference, because I think it’s more versatile), or with an aromatic, lighter-bodied white with fruit and floral notes which are a nice counterpoint to savory Thanksgiving foods.
– King Estate Acrobat Pinot Gris is a wine made from responsibly grown grapes in Oregon, one of our best wine producing regions. This sip is crispy, refreshing, and versatile—perfect for Thanksgiving.
– Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc is a little spicy and slightly sweet with high acidity that can cut through rich holiday meals. It has citrus, tropical fruit, and pear flavors that are refreshing without being overpowering.
– You may associate Riesling with sweet wines, but they can be dry, too. Either way, they are a nice choice if you like floral wines. Eroica Riesling from Columbia Valley Washington is a lovely wine with good value.
Look for these or similar wines at your local liquor or wine store. Though you may not be able to order online in time for Thanksgiving, all of our picks, except for the Montinore Estate Pinot Noir, which is available through Union Square Wines, are available on Wine.com. These are all currently available for $20 or less/bottle, but please keep in mind that prices are subject to change and delivery and taxes differ by state. Cheers!