Beyond the Turkey: All About Wine on Thanksgiving, According to Alex Guarnaschelli

Hear from Alex Guarnaschelli about how to utilize wine during and after your Thanksgiving feast.

Guest Judge Alex Guarnaschelli during deliberation for the Star Challenge, Savory Baking, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 11.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

With so much focus on executing the all-important turkey, mashed potatoes and casseroles, it's often easy to overlook what comes next on Thanksgiving, after the prep work is done: the actual eating of the turkey, potatoes and casseroles, of course. With eating comes drinking, especially around the holidays, and just as you invested time in planning an epic feast, so too can you find an extra-special wine to round out the meal. Recently we caught up with Alex Guarnaschelli at an event in New York City in which she partnered with Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi wines to showcase her secrets for transforming turkey-day leftovers with Woodbridge wines. The Iron Chef and Chopped judge was quick to point out that there are no hard-and-fast rules for both drinking and cooking with wine.

"You write a rule book and then we just break it," she said of pairing wine with Thanksgiving dinner. "Turkey's one of those things. In a way, I would almost say you could do a platter of the white meat and a little bit of stuffing and some green bean casserole, and have a nice, crisp Chardonnay. Then you could go in the other direction: Take some of the dark meat, some cranberry sauce, some stuffing and have a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon," she explained, adding that there are possibilities for personal preference. "Depending on how you lay out your plate, you could really drink either."

For cooking with wine, Alex looked to the versatility of both red and white varieties to dress up her Thanksgiving leftovers and turn them into all-new dishes worthy of the holiday. Guests at the event watched as she used a hefty splash of Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay to add body and flavor to her Parmesan cheese sauce, which would be drizzled atop the gravy-soaked turkey that adorned ready-to-go spinach phyllo bites. The key to using the wine in this instance — and in other recipes, she noted — is letting it reduce so the alcohol has a chance to burn off. This way the bold taste of the wine remains, but the "raw" bite, she explained, is gone. Similarly, she put the Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon to work in a crispy potato dish, layered with buttery leftover stuffing and served with a reduced red wine-mustard sauce for a tangy, well-rounded taste.

Ready to try your hand at Thanksgiving leftovers? Check out our collection of top recipes for utilizing in next-day dishes the turkey, veggies and desserts that remain from the big feast.

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