Best Thanksgiving Wines: Top 5 Holiday Pairings Most Recommended By Experts

Wine is a staple of Thanksgiving dinner. Pairing good wine with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie significantly enhances the meal. But which wine is best? That’s where StudyFinds comes in. Thanks to online experts, we were able to compile a list of the best Thanksgiving wines to have at your holiday feast.

You might need that bottle of wine in case grandma’s turkey didn’t live up to expectations. A recent poll reveals seven in ten people lie to their family members about how their holiday meals taste. Hey, at least you can’t blame the wine’s flavor on your relatives.

It might be best for your brain health to reach for that bottle of red at the dinner table during Thanksgiving. A study shows that a compound in red wine is able to fight off toxic plaques in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease. While it is never recommended to drink excessively, this benefit of red wine proves you don’t need to be too guilty after indulging in a glass or two for the holiday.

A Guide to Thanksgiving Wine Pairings:

  • Turkey: Pinot Noir, with its delicate red fruit flavors and subtle earthiness, complements the savory notes of turkey. Gamay, another red grape varietal, offers vibrant acidity that cuts through the richness of the meat.
  • Stuffing: Chardonnay, with its creamy texture and hints of oak and vanilla, pairs beautifully with the savory and herbaceous flavors of stuffing. Chenin Blanc, a versatile white wine, offers a balance of sweetness and acidity that complements the stuffing’s richness.
  • Cranberry Sauce: Riesling, with its refreshing acidity and range of sweetness levels, perfectly balances the tartness and sweetness of cranberry sauce. Sauvignon Blanc, known for its crisp acidity and zesty flavors, also pairs well with the cranberry sauce.
  • Pumpkin Pie: Moscato, with its sweet and fruity profile, harmonizes with the sweetness and spice of pumpkin pie. Off-dry Gewürztraminer, with its aromatic flavors and hints of ginger and honey, also complements the pie’s flavors.

Do you need help in picking out wine for your holiday feast? StudyFinds has the top five best Thanksgiving wines to pair with all of Turkey Day’s classics. Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

Red wine being poured into a glass
Red wine being poured into a glass (Photo by Krasula on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Thanksgiving Wines, According to Experts

1. Pinot Noir

Topping the list is the ever-popular red wine Pinot Noir. “Pinot Noir is arguably the most classic Thanksgiving wine, and for a reason: Those tart, tangy red fruit notes are just as complementary to fall dishes as cranberry sauce!” says Food Network. “Many Pinot Noirs also have a savory, woodsy note, ideal for pairing with autumn produce like mushrooms, squash, and herbs like rosemary and sage. Big, hearty reds like Cabernet will overpower classic Thanksgiving fare and are better to save for your Christmas roast or New Year’s rack of lamb. Pinot Noir is the perfect light-to-medium bodied red to serve. Slightly chill it for an even more refreshing experience.”

Pouring red wine from bottle into glass
Pinot Noir pouring into a glass (© New Africa – stock.adobe.com)

“A remarkable deal for a California Pinot, this new wine has abundant berry fruit but stays light on its feet at the same time — possibly due to the unusual addition of small amounts of Sangiovese and Chardonnay (yes, that’s right) to the blend,” Food & Wine writes about the 2021 Rebellious Pinot Noir.

Town & Country recommends the light red Michael Pozzan Pinot Noir to pair with your Thanksgiving meal. “A supple dark cherry palate with earthy hints of spice make this bottle a great pick that will play well with the main attraction—your turkey, of course—as well as all the sides.”

2. Rosé

It’s definitely a priority to have “Rosé all day” during Thanksgiving. “Lightly bready aromas of cantaloupe and citrus fruits open this lively sparkling rosé,” says Wine Enthusiast of the Llopart 2018 Rosé Brut Reserva Mètode Tradicional Corpinnat Sparkling. “Flavors of orange, apricot and apple start out with force before transitioning to pink grapefruit and orange accents that carry to a steady finish.”

Two people clinking wine glasses
Two people clinking wine glasses (Photo by micheile henderson on Unsplash)

“Rosé and sherry are worthy of consideration for Thanksgiving dinner. Along with sparkling wines, they provide a capable go-between for those not firmly camped in either the red or white wine trenches,” writes The Spruce Eats. “When considering a sparkling wine, choose one labeled ‘extra dry,’ which will offer a touch more fruit flavor than a ‘brut.’ As for rosé wines, a drier selection will be the most versatile for pairing with virtually any part of the Thanksgiving feast.”

VinePair says Champagne Lallier Grand Rosé NV is one of the best sparkling wines for Thanksgiving. “Whether at the beginning of the meal or after dessert, this rosé Champers has all the things you are looking for in a pink-hued bubby. It’s soft and creamy with a nose of fresh strawberries. The palate is alive with soft bubbles and round fruit.”

3. Chardonnay

Coming in third on the list is the tasty white Chardonnay. “As Burgundy prices climb and climb, it’s refreshing to find an appealing white Burgundy for a modest amount,” says Food & Wine of their recommendation, the 2020 Edouard Delaunay Septembre Bourgogne Chardonnay. “This one’s lemon-pear flavors feel lifted by the modest amount of new French oak it was aged in.”

People clinking glasses of white wine
People clinking glasses of white wine (Photo by Matthieu Joannon on Unsplash)

 

“Give the oaky chardonnay lovers at your table something to remember with this under-the-radar bottle that gives the requisite notes of caramel and toasted bread, along with a satiny character that allows it to stand up to the richer options on the plate,” writes Town & Country Magazine about Foxen Winery’s Chardonnay.

Wine Enthusiast favors Devil’s Corner 2020 Chardonnay for Thanksgiving. “This is a well-priced Chardonnay that champions the distinct character of Australia’s coolest climate winegrowing region. It offers flavors of melon, peach, ginger and toasty oak nuances. It’s both corpulent and refreshing, linear and crisp, with a salty mineral note adding complexity to the fleshy fruit and spice flavors.”

4. Riesling

Riesling is another must-have wine for Thanksgiving dinner. “This white wine can either be quite dry or fairly sweet, and it’s excellent with spicy, salty, or sweet foods,” says The Spruce Eats. “Whether from Alsace, Germany, or Washington, riesling wines are a top pick for a Thanksgiving dinner. Riesling’s natural flavors of apple, apricot, and honey, and its clarifying acidity give it a significant pairing edge with the likes of sweet potatoes, turkey, and spiced or herb-filled stuffing.”

A glass of Riesling being poured
A glass of Riesling being poured (Photo by Christine Isakzhanova on Unsplash)

“Its crisp acidity and flavors spark a nostalgic sense of autumn, making riesling a contender for the best wine for traditional Thanksgiving dinners,” adds Cozymeal about the Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling. “No flavors are too rich or too complex for this accommodating white, and it shifts effortlessly from dinner to dessert.”

Better Homes & Gardens says Rieslings “can be dry or sweet; spicy, fruity flavor with touches of peaches or apricots, and a floral fragrance.”

5. Sauvignon Blanc

Closing out the top five Thanksgiving wines is Sauvignon Blanc. “Known for its citrusy flavor with herbal or mineral undertones, this crisp white is a prime pairing candidate for turkey and mashed potatoes,” says The Spruce Eats.

A glass of Sauvignon Blanc
A glass of Sauvignon Blanc (Photo by Celina on Unsplash)

“The tongue lightness and high acidity of a sauv blanc ensure its place on the list of the best wines for Thanksgiving,” writes Cozymeal about Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc. “Whether you’re creating a casual meal for a small group or serving a banquet for a larger table, the green and grassy notes like the ones in this bottle will accent lighter meats and green vegetables with ease.”

VinePair recommends the Stinson Vineyards 2021 Sauvignon Blanc. “It has sweet aromas of peach (particularly the skin) and ripe melon, with a waxy vibe. This Sauvignon Blanc has the liveliest natural acidity, exciting the palate and easily pairing with stuffing.”

How to Serve Wine at Thanksgiving:

Beyond the specific pairings mentioned above, here are some additional considerations for selecting wines for your Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Serve wines slightly chilled: Most wines, both red and white, taste best when chilled slightly below room temperature.
  • Consider the serving sequence: Start with lighter-bodied wines and progress to fuller-bodied wines as the meal progresses.
  • Accommodate diverse preferences: Offer a variety of wines to cater to different tastes.
  • Don’t overthink it: Ultimately, the best wine pairings are those you enjoy.

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Sources:

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

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About the Author

Matt Higgins

Matt Higgins worked in national and local news for 15 years. He started out as an overnight production assistant at Fox News Radio in 2007 and ended in 2021 as the Digital Managing Editor at CBS Philadelphia. Following his news career, he spent one year in the automotive industry as a Digital Platforms Content Specialist contractor with Subaru of America and is currently a freelance writer and editor for StudyFinds. Matt believes in facts, science and Philadelphia sports teams crushing his soul.

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