Vol. 26 No. 11 Wine

Wines For The Thanksgiving Table

Pairing wine for an eclectic holiday menu.


Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and many of us are planning menus to accommodate family and friends. For those with dietary restrictions, there is more to consider than just the “traditional” Thanksgiving fare. Last year my table was laden with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes and a small token turkey.

So, what wines pair well with an eclectic menu and will satisfy everyone’s palate without pairing a bottle of wine with each dish? Here are a few suggestions to get you through the holidays. 

White Wines

Look for white wines with higher acidity and lower alcohol. Not only will they pair well with traditional fare that tends to be rich in fat and salt, but they will also complement non-traditional cuisine, especially spicy food. The acidity will tone down the fat and salt, and the lower alcohol won’t compete with or distort the palate while enjoying spicy food. I recommend: 

Sauvignon Blanc is light and crisp, has high acidity, and is an excellent choice for Thanksgiving.

Dry Riesling is another good choice. It is fruity, acidic, and crisp.

Chenin Blanc (dry) is aromatic with vibrant acidity and is slightly sweet. It pairs well with most food.

Red Wines

Red wines shouldn’t overpower a meal; they should enhance it. Light-bodied red wines that are fruit-forward, lower in alcohol, and not oaky will complement an extensive range of cuisine without dominating the flavors of most dishes. I recommend: 

Pinot Noir is very food-friendly, has bright acidity, is fruity, and is a favorite at Thanksgiving meals.

French Gamay (Beaujolais) is light, dry, and fruit-forward. 

Red Zinfandel is fruit-forward and fuller-bodied than Pinot Noir but still light and can cut through spicy, sweet, and bitter flavors.

Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines are festive but not only consumed on special occasions. When it comes to food pairing, these wines are so accommodating many consumers are opting for the bubbly at mealtime instead of still wines. They are easy to drink and pair well with just about everything! The best sparkling wines to pour for Thanksgiving should be dry or extra dry but not sweet. There are many options and styles available. Sparkling wines are made in either the traditional method, with the second fermentation taking place in the bottle, or the tank (Charmat) method, with the second fermentation occurring in a steel tank. Sparkling wines are produced worldwide and go by different names depending on country/region/appellation of origin. You won’t go wrong with any of these sparkling wines.

Champagne and Crémant – France
Sekt – Germany
Cava – Spain
Prosecco – Italy

Rosé Wines

The expression “Rosé all day” is trending, and yes, this pink wine is popular and has its place on Thanksgiving as an aperitif or with the meal. It is food-friendly and pairs well with many flavors, spices, and textures. Look for dry rosés that are fruity, crisp, and refreshing, such as Provencal rosé, or try dry rosés from Spain, Portugal, and the USA. 

Happy pairing, and enjoy the holidays!


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2 comments on “Wines For The Thanksgiving Table

  1. Nice choices! We have been going with Etna Rosso for thanksgiving since I started touring Sicily. The Nerello Mascalese is so fresh and clean and easy to digest. I prefer it to Pinot with a big meal, (unless I pick out my own, from Burgundy. 😉)

    • Penny Weiss aka The WineKnitter

      Hi Ric I love Nerello Mascalese! Actually, I can’t think of a Sicilian wine that I don’t like! Sicily is my all time favorite place to visit. Cheers!

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