Thanksgiving Wine Pairing

The turkey itself, being neutral in flavor, is not really our concern here. Other proteins like roast beef and game are also generally wine-friendly. 

The sides are the challenge. Corn pudding, sweet potatoes, and the like can make an otherwise beautiful wine fall flat on its face, particularly if it was aged in new oak barrels or checks in at over 14% alcohol by volume. Spice and sweetness do not play nicely with big wines. 

I feel like this goes without saying, but please try to avoid using the spicy seasonings and sauces sold by eccentric Southern chefs. The versions sold next to the grills at the hardware store are a particularly bad choice, as is anything labeled “slap yo’ mama.” 

So what to choose then? By far the most traditional (any my personal favorite) red wine to serve with the Thanksgiving meal is French Beaujolais. The combination of light body, balance alcohol, and delicious primary fruit flavor is tough to beat with the wide variety of dishes on the table. You might also consider Oregon Pinot (again watch out for oak), Italian Barbera d’Alba, or lower-octane versions of French Cotes-du-Rhone.

For the whites, look for refreshing bottles with pronounced acidity. Albarino, Vinho Verde, cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc, and unoaked Chardonnay are all good options. Albarino in particular seems to work well. I would suggest Riesling (the most versatile wine in the world), but I know none of you will drink it so moving on...

Sparkling wine can also be a good option, particularly Spanish Cava. Some Champagnes can work well, but look for lighter, more refreshing styles versus bigger, more opulent versions. Veuve Clicquot is for goobers. Stop buying it. 

I would be remiss in not mentioning the many pleasures of a fine glass of Madeira following the meal. Part history, part celebratory beverage, Madeira is the quintessential American potent potable.

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