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Guide to the Best Wines for Thanksgiving

There’s a lot to love about Thanksgiving—the delectable, mouth-watering food; the intimate time shared with family; and the joy of a few days off are all aspects that make this holiday such a fantastic time. However, such a big holiday means a lot planning—which for some people means a lot of stress. You probably already have a rough idea of what you’re doing for food, but don’t forget that the most important complement to tasty food is a winsome wine. To help you plan the perfect Thanksgiving dinner, take a look at our guide to the best wines for Thanksgiving. We’ll delve into our top wine choices and then pair those wines with the big staples—check it out!

Top Red Wines for Thanksgiving

Pinot Noir

Pinot noir is a beloved red wine for Thanksgiving, and for great reason. The wine’s subtle earthy undertones and fruity features will pair well with just about every dish you have on your table. If you’re going to pick just one bottle of red, then pinot noir is definitely the way to go. The high acidity cuts through the rich flavors without overpowering them, and the wine’s light-bodied nature pairs well with those lighter dishes.

Beaujolais Nouveau

Although it’s not one of the most well-known wines for Thanksgiving, Beaujolais actually offers a lot of lovely flavor pairings for your meal. Made from Gamay grapes, the wine is comparable to pinot noir, but it has an even wider range of complements. Its lighter body pairs well with salads, roasted squash, cranberries, and marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes.

Zinfandel

Another popular option for Thanksgiving meals is the full-bodied zinfandel. Although it’s definitely more intense than pinot noir or Beaujolais, this red still has quite the balancing effect on most of your Thanksgiving staples. The low tannins help moisten a dry turkey (we don’t want to admit it, but most of our turkeys come out pretty dry), so you’ll want to pick up a bottle before you head to the in-laws’ house. Not to mention, its lovely secondary flavors of clove, cinnamon, and vanilla complement a lot of dishes you find in the fall.

Best White Wines for Thanksgiving

Riesling

Say goodbye to the stereotypical sweeter-than-sweet riesling and welcome dry riesling into your home. When it comes to the perfect white wine for Thanksgiving dinner, nothing pairs better than the dynamic dry riesling. Truth be told, even if you’re not a huge fan of dry riesling, then a semi-sweet one will work just as well. Either way, the wine’s apple, apricot, and honey flavors and stimulating acidity give it a wonderful pairing edge you’d be hard-pressed to find in other whites.

Gewürztraminer

This cheerful summer wine actually transitions quite well to the fall. It’s a highly aromatic and spiced wine that does wonders for bringing more flavor to turkey and gravy. Similar to riesling, it can be dry or sweet, so get a bottle of both and hold a little taste-test to figure out which showcases more flavor. Gewürztraminer also pairs well with any lighter salads or dishes you have, bringing out more of those tangy notes.

Sauvignon Blanc

Another crisp white that’s high in acidity, sauvignon blanc is a prime candidate for mashed potatoes. The high level of citrus-based flavors works well with herb and mineral undertones, so this wine pairs nicely with a variety of dishes. An herbaceous sauvignon blanc pairs terrifically with green bean casserole and roasted asparagus, and it acts as a palate cleanser for those super-rich gravies and meats—it’s quite the versatile white wine choice.

Wines for Turkey-Lovers

Zinfandel

As we mentioned above, zinfandel is a popular wine option for Thanksgiving, and one of the main reasons is its ability to pair perfectly with turkey. The fuller body matches well with both light and dark meat, so pour a glass and dig in.

Our favorites:

  • Joseph Swan Zeigler Vineyard 2013
  • Frog’s Leap Zinfandel 2014

Chardonnay

We didn’t mention chardonnay on our overall wine list for Thanksgiving, but don’t fret. Chardonnay may not pair well with every dish on the table, but it pairs wonderfully with turkey! Opt for an unoaked chardonnay for fuller flavor.

Our favorites:

  • Mer Soleil Reserve Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2015
  • Clos du Val Estate Chardonnay Carneros ‘Lot One’ 2015

Wines for Ham Snobs

Dry Riesling

If you can’t handle turkey and want the juicy flavor of ham instead, turn to a dry riesling. You’ll want to decide on the sweetness of your wine based on the flavor and spice of your ham—pair sweet with sweet or spice with spice.

Our favorites:

  • Pacific Rim Dry Riesling 2011
  • Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Dry Riesling 2017

Pinot Noir

A wine that pairs with everything on your table, pinot will tantalize your taste buds when partnered with a delicious ham. The complexity of the wine will pair well no matter how you season your ham.

Our favorites:

  • Meiomi Pinot Noir
  • Domaine Nicolas Rossignol Beaune 2017

Pumpkin and Pecan Pie Pairings

Pumpkin Pie: Tawny Port

Pumpkin pie is the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert, so determining the right wine to pair with it is vital. After-dinner coffee is no match for a fantastic port. If you want to up the sweetness factor, tawny port is the way to go. You’ll get notes of fig, toffee, dried orange, and various spices that make even the most experimental pumpkin pie seem exquisite.

Our favorite:

  • Kopke 20 Year Tawny Port

Pecan Pie: Gamay

If pumpkin pie isn’t your thing, then try out a rich slice of pecan pie. Pairing wine with pecan pie can be a bit complicated, as the wrong combination can leave you with quite the bittersweet taste. The high tannin in the nuts and the sugary, caramelized crust make for a challenging pair. But it’s not impossible! Try out a fruity, juicy, and spicy Gamay to accentuate all the different flavors you find in the pie.

Our favorite:

  • Pascal Aufranc Probus Juliénas 2016

For all your Thanksgiving wine needs, turn to Wines ’Til Sold Out. Our wine home delivery service is perfect for the holidays—we offer premier selections to make your celebration one for the books! From reds and whites to sparkling and rosés, we want to make sure you get the best bang for your buck. Explore our site now!

Wines for Thanksgiving