How to Pick a Wine for Turkey

One might assume different shadings of bird would pose a pairing problem, especially once you factor in the cranberry-yammy-beany caravan that trundles across the table. Not so: There are several wines that bridge the Turkey Day food gap.


Sliced turkey with gravy and vegetables

Photo by: Jupiterimages


Sliced turkey with gravy and vegetables

Pinot Gris from Oregon: Before reaching for yet another Pinot Grigio from Italy, try serving the same grape — Pinot Gris — but from Oregon. It will offer more intrigue for your feast, with slightly more weight and a spritzy jolt of acidity, often joined by a smidgen of honey or spice.

Cru Beaujolais:
A somewhat more serious older brother to Beaujolais Nouveau, it is light on the palate and on the wallet, while consistently charming with floral aromas and irresistibly lithe red fruit. The latest Beaujolais vintage, 2009, is especially a standout.

Pinot Noir:
This silky, aromatic red’s versatility with food made it popular with culinarians long before its star turn in Sideways. Its restrained frame and snappy acidity gives lift not only to poultry of all types but also to most foods associated with white wine and the majority we relate with red.

Chinon: Light- to medium-bodied, this French red is a slingshot of a wine, poised to invigorate the most tryptophan-addled uncle with a uniquely tangy and herbal earthiness. I elaborate on why it is such a stimulating wine for Thanksgiving in this video.

This Italian red has moderate weight and cherry or raspberry aromas, with ample acidity and occasionally a bit of tannic bite that will counter the feelings of fatigue that set in after your third helping.

Zinfandel: Most people don’t realize that this all-American comes in two styles. The first style is a high-octane chest-thumper, chewy with notes of blackberry and heady alcohol, and the other is a lighter, more raspberry-inflected wine of moderate weight. Ask your wine shop for the latter and the wine will play nicely with all manner of bird — complete with trimmings.

Mark Oldman is a wine expert, acclaimed author and lead judge of the hit series The Winemakers.

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