Jump to content Jump to search
featured image

Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

Thu, Nov 09, 23  |  wine blog

By Robert Giles


The family and friends are gathered and the table is set. Sweet potatoes, green beans, and dressing, a plethora of side dishes that can make pairing wines on Thanksgiving a struggle. Focus on the main dish and create your pairing based on that. By dialing down the focus to one main dish you can take just a little bit of the stress out of the situation. Here are some suggestions for the traditional and not-so-traditional main dishes you may have at your family gathering this year.


The traditional Thanksgiving turkey can be hard to find a crowd-pleasing pairing for. While turkey is usually a blank flavor palate, the use of sage, hickory or mesquite for extra zest makes finding a wine that doesn’t clash a challenge. The floral nature of Pierre Sparr Gewürztraminer accentuates the herbal qualities of a typical Thanksgiving turkey while the light notes of clove and pepper will give more depth to the meat. In that same vein, Trimbach Pinot Blanc has a mild, floral nose and adds notes of apricot for a fruity compliment. Finally, Paul Hobbs Russian River Pinot Noir is reminiscent of a focused cranberry sauce. Notes of pomegranate, dark cherry and sage with high acidity compliment a well-herbed turkey, whether roasted or deep fried.


Whether sweet or savory, ham can be both easier and more challenging to pair. Home cooking has become more adventurous, bringing a whole new range of flavors to ham. A good starting point is Oraison Cotes du Rhone Rouge. This blend of grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre gives a complimentary cherry note with hints of pepper. Grochau Cellars Convivial is a fruity blend of gamay and pinot noir bursting with tart red fruit flavors and acidity to liven up any ham. For sweeter hams, I suggest the Marchesi di Barolo. Full of spicy and woody cinnamon aroma, this wine has the acidity and tannic structure to cut through the sweetness of a heavily glazed ham.


A Thanksgiving dinner of prime rib may go against tradition, but it gives a plethora of choices for wine pairings. Hahn Cabernet is an easy traditional pairing for prime rib that brings red cherry, currant, and strong tannins to cut through the meat’s richness. Ridge Three Valleys with its notes of ripe black fruits and cherry is another good option. For an exquisite experience, the Chateau Lafon-Rochet Saint Estephe 2016 is the choice for you. This Bordeaux blend just coming into its prime has notes of red and black currants with subtle bay leaf and tobacco notes to perfectly compliment a strong cut of meat.


For adventurous Thanksgiving gourmands, balancing gamey flavors with wine can be a challenge. Cline Mourvedre, with notes of mint, blackberry and wild berries leading to robust tannins and an earthy finish, is a perfect pairing for venison. For duck you won’t go wrong with Louis Jadot Combe aux Jacques Beaujolais Villages. Strawberry and cherry with a strong acidity cut through the oily nature of duck and offer a light, fruity complimentary flavor. Finally, Krupp Brothers Syrah offers up fresh black plum and blackberry with notes of clove leading to a long peppery finish that provides an elegant pairing with venison.

By robert@colonialwineshop.com

Tags: thanksgiving