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The Best Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving dinner is always really tricky in regard to pairing wine with food, and it's not because turkey is a difficult dish to pair with wine, but because of the diversity of side dishes that are present. And on top of that every family has their own preferences and traditions, as far as, what ends up on the dinner table.

Thanksgiving dinner
Thanksgiving dinner
At first thought, these considerations may seem like a little daunting task, but it's nothing more than a few simple guidelines to follow that can turn a Thanksgiving dinner to a very delightful experience.

The Art of Pairing Wine with Thanksgiving Dinner

The choice of wines with thanksgiving dinner is largely a matter of personal preference; You can choose from a variety of red and white wines that best suits your palate. With white wines the pairing priority is finding a wine with well-balanced acidity, with reds you are looking for fairly tame tannins and lower alcohol that will not overwhelm the flavors of the food.

Pairing wine with Thanksgiving dinner
Pairing wine with Thanksgiving dinner
With an assortment of different food flavors on the table, Thanksgiving dinner isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, where the different food flavors must be enjoyed, and cherished for their traditions.

A Thanksgiving dinner needs wines that can complement the different food flavors, their textures and weight while bringing the best out of each dish, making the full dining experience enjoyable, besides also taking into consideration the different tastes and preferences of those gathered around the dining table.

The important criteria is not to pick a wine that is too heavy on the tannins, but rather a wine with well-balanced acidity, soft tannins and fruit flavors that will be refreshing and will complement your Thanksgiving dinner.

There are no defined rules when it comes to picking wines, for each person has their own tastes and preferences, but following certain guidelines and understanding the attributes of different wines will allow you to pick one or more wines that can satisfy the needs of everyone around your Thanksgiving table.

10 Best Wines for Thanksgiving Dinner

Here are 10 different wines that pair best with Thanksgiving dinner. Each has their own attributes, and based on your budget and the tastes and preferences of those around you at the Thanksgiving table, a few of them will be great pairing for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Vinho Verde

  • Vinho Verde is a crisp wine from the Vinho Verde region in Portugal that’s light and refreshing.
  • The white Vinho Verde wine is at the lower end of the alcohol spectrum, light and refreshing, and a great palate cleanser if you have an assortment of different food items on the table.
  • Vinho Verde wine has good natural acidity, with fruity and floral aromas.

Sparkling wine

  • Sparkling wine is a carbonated wine, made predominantly from two types of grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
  • Sparkling wines and Champagne are the most versatile wines for pairing with food. A well-made bubbly has lots of natural acidity, which helps it brighten the flavors of so many foods and be a perfect food companion.
  • There are many different Sparkling wines—France produces Crémant besides the Champagne; Spain produces Cava; Moscato d'Asti, Prosecco and Lambrusco are produced in Italy; Germany, Austria and some parts of Eastern Europe produce Sekt.

    In America, the grape varieties used for making Sparkling wine depends on the region and the winemaker who might often produce a blend using different grapes.
  • Sparkling wines can be sweet or dry and the preference for either style depends on individual palate and the food on the Thanksgiving table. Typically wines with a good balance of sweetness and acidity will pair well with many different food dishes, including those that are a little spicy.


  • Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine valley of Germany. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet and sweet styled wines.
  • Riesling’s flavors of apple, apricot, honey and its clarifying acidity, gives it a significant pairing edge with the likes of sweet potatoes, turkey, meat and spice-laden or herb-filled stuffing.
  • In cool climates, such as Germany and the Finger Lakes region of New York, Riesling wines exhibit a good balance of acidity and sweetness.


  • Gewürztraminer is an aromatic wine grape variety, used in white wines, and performs best in cooler climates. The Alsace region in France has a long history of producing some of best Gewürztraminer wine.
  • Aromatic and slightly spicy, sometimes off-dry with hints of nutmeg, Gewürztraminer is right at home with sage-rubbed turkey and gravy, bringing out the best in both.
  • The German name Gewürztraminer literally means 'Spice Traminer'. The grape variety Traminer is a mutation of the Sauvignon blanc.


  • Viognier is a white wine grape variety mainly grown in the Rhône Valley in France and regions of North and South America as well as Australia and New Zealand.
  • Viognier wines are well known for their floral aromas, fruit flavors and rich textures. They are a good pairing with spicy food or a complement to some of the sweet side dishes.
  • Viognier wines generally have low acidity and different fruit aromas depending on the region the grapes are grown.


  • Rosé is a type of wine that incorporates some of the color, flavor and tannins from the grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine.
  • Rosé is an elegant wine choice to be served with turkey and the accompaniments of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Its lively character, due to its refreshing acidity and fruit flavors makes the wine well suited for the classic dishes served during dinner.
  • Provence in France, specializes in rosé wine, and is home to the only research institute dedicated to the style.

Pinot Noir

  • Pinot Noir is a red wine grape variety grown around the world, mostly in the cooler climates, but the grape is mainly associated with the Burgundy region of France.
  • Pinot Noir from cooler climate regions have low tannins with good acidity and fruit flavors, making them a great pairing for the Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned grape hence it has low tannins and is more delicate wine than other red wine varietals.

Beaujolais Nouveau

  • Beaujolais Nouveau is a light, fruity red wine, made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France.
  • Beaujolais Nouveau wine has some black cherry flavors, nice acidity and a soft finish, perfect for turkey and all the sides. The wine is recommended to be slightly chilled before serving.
  • These wines are released for sale on the third Thursday of November in France and is intended for immediate drinking.


  • Nebbiolo is an Italian red wine grape variety from the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy.
  • Wines made from Nebbiolo have a good balance of acidity, tannins and a depth of flavor that can complement the turkey dinner.
  • Some of the best Nebbiolo wines are produced in the Barolo and Barbaresco zones in the Piedmont region.


  • Zinfandel is one of the classic wines of California.
  • Not all Zinfandel wines are up to the task for pairing with turkey. Wines with a more gentle style pair well with the Thanksgiving dinner; i.e light tannins and good acidity.
  • Zinfandel’s secondary flavors of cinnamon, clove and vanilla will put you in the mood for fall.

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Pairing Food and Sparkling Wine

Article Category:
Food & Drinks Pairing

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