Thanksgiving: Tips for pairing wines with your feast

This Thanksgiving pair the perfect wines with your meal and the seemingly endless flavors and spices.


SONOMA, California, November 20, 2016 – Thanksgiving is upon us, and along with the wonderful family and friends gathering that it is. We want to make sure we pair the perfect wines with our meal which can be tricky with the seemingly endless flavors and spices, and the wide range of palates and wine knowledge.

That said, some wines are ideal for pairing with Thanksgiving dinner. Pinot Noir is a wonderful Thanksgiving wine because it goes so well with turkey as well as many of the side dishes. It will be best to pour multiple wines throughout the evening to keep both your guests and your palates happy.

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a safe bet and a crowd-pleaser with its high acidity, low tannins and often cherry, cranberry and sometimes earthy and rich spice flavors. Turkey is a no-brainer for this luscious wine.

Believe it or not, Pinot will go very well with cranberries (both the awesomely old-school canned kind that still have the shape of the can, and the more homemade, organic kind).

Pinot Noir will be the big hit at dinner for sure. It will pair with most dishes served, from the turkey to mushrooms, ham, pork, lentils, salmon, and even Asian and Mediterranean dishes.

Pinot Noir suggestions:

Image courtesy of Sojourn Cellars
Image courtesy of Sojourn Cellars


This delicious little gem, aside from the turkey itself, can be extremely difficult to pair with the rest of dinner. If you have cheese or a cheese-based appetizer, Chardonnay is a good choice. Another option would be a cream-based soup like Vichyssoise, or get some real butter and lots of cream and mix up some mouth-watering, ultra-whipped mashed potatoes.

The right Chardonnay might have your guests drooling from that pairing. Many of the coastal states will serve seafood for Thanksgiving. If this is the case, Chardonnay pairs elegantly with white fish like halibut, mahi-mahi and tilapia. Any dish with a creamy, buttery sauce will be a safe bet.

Chardonnay suggestions:

Paradise Ridge Blanc de Blanc
Paradise Ridge Blanc de Blanc


Champagne & Sparkling Wine

It would be difficult to finish a pairing article and not mention sparkling wine. Champagne and sparkling wines are always a hit over the holidays, and the bubbles will help your guests keep their palates clean as they unbutton their top pants button and stuff in another course.

Typical pairings include caviar, oysters, cheeses, fish, cream sauces, and both salty and deep fried foods. This can be an excellent starting and finishing wine.

Sparkling suggestions:


Let’s not forget about Rosé. Rosé makes for an excellent appetizer wine and is a good choice to serve your guests when they first arrive. A lovely, dry, crisp Rosé will pair very well with a salad dish with a nice soft cheese (such as goat), and any dish with a little fatty meat such as salmon, pork or dark meat turkey.

Rosé suggestions:

Cowan Cellars Rose
Cowan Cellars Rose

Sleeper Wine

Now for the sleeper, the wine you might not expect at Thanksgiving dinner: Syrah. Syrah, with its deep dark fruit profile, often augmented with tobacco, leather and black pepper notes, might not be an obvious choice.

But this wine has a secret power. It pairs extremely well with meat and heavy sauces. This is a killer wine with heavier meats such as lamb, sausage, roast beef and stews. Even if you are having a vegetarian Turkey Day, this is still a solid choice.

Syrah pairs excellently with Moroccan, Mediterranean and Italian dishes. Anything you serve that has a lot of black pepper and/or a lot of herbs, this is the wine for you.

Syrah suggestions:

Image courtesy of Sojourn Cellars

Happy Thanksgiving

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Sherrie Perkovich
Sherrie is a perky, music and wine-loving, Northern California local that seeks out and spreads the word about San Francisco experiences as well as unforgettable wine-related travel experiences. She is CMO of The Grape Hunter USA, where they focus on helping artisan wineries and developing unique wine travel for consumers. Follow her on Twitter @BigNoseWino Sherrie is a San Francisco local that fancies herself an extroverted fine dining, wine drinking, know-it-all. If it’s happening near SF, Sherrie is in on it. Follow her columns, for the widest range of Out and About San Francisco ~ San Jose treats and Wine Country Weekly.