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.
86529561

86529561

Sliced turkey with gravy and vegetables

Photo by: Jupiterimages

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.

Dolcetto:
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.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Worry-Free Wine Presentation at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can bring out the worry. Happily, there's one area that doesn't require excessive concern, and that's wine presentation. Here are my stress-relieving tips:

10 Thanksgiving Wine Tips And Pairings

Be the wine hero of Thanksgiving by bringing the perfect bottle — use our tips and wine pairing ideas.

5 Turkey-Themed Platters for Your Thanksgiving Feast

These festive, shareable platters are just the thing to tide over a hungry crowd before the turkey hits the table.

Choosing Wine for a Group on Thanksgiving

As tempting as it is for me to serve a fine Burgundy at Thanksgiving, I've learned that most guests do not crave the fussy or the obscure. Wine at Thanksgiving should be like a Steve Martin flick: likable, uncomplicated and inexpensive.

Vegetable Centerpiece

Create the perfect vegetable centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table, from Food Network Magazine.

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.

Wine Will Keep Well; Buy It Early — Thanksgiving Tip of the Day

Should you drink red or white with turkey? Don't fret if you're new to wine, there's no wrong answer, but we've got some picks to get you started.

Giada's Thanksgiving Wine Picks

Giada pairs her Thanksgiving menu with fantastic wines.

Thanksgiving Wines Paired With Your Menu Style

Every year, we get questions on how to pair wine with Thanksgiving dinner; it’s a nice dinner you’ve gone to great lengths to prepare, and you want to drink something nice with it. This is both a hard question to answer and an easy one, because turkey itself is a blank canvas — you can pair it with pretty much every wine in the world and it’ll work pretty well — so it’s never so much about the turkey as it is about the seasonings and sides. The problem here is actually that there’s too much choice.

Turkey Talk: Picking the Right Bird

Choosing the right turkey for your festivities can be confusing. Here are a few tips and must-have tools to make planning that much easier.

Latest Stories