What Wines to Bring (or Serve) for Thanksgiving Dinner

If you’re not serving Thanksgiving dinner yourself this year, there’s a good chance you’ll be visiting friends or family on the big day. If so, you may feel obligated, or be expected, to bring along a contribution. Instead of stuffing, cranberries, or pie, why not delight your party with an exceptional wine? And in case you’re the host, you may want to have a bottle or two available to enhance the meal.

But, what wine goes with Thanksgiving? Because of the heavy, savory, character of most traditional holiday foods, it is one of the most difficult meals to pair with wine. A big, bold, full-bodied red wine will actually overwhelm turkey and stuffing. But a light, soft, white wine will itself be overwhelmed by the gravy and cranberries.

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Not to fear, there are excellent choices out there that strike the perfect balance. What you’re looking for is a dry wine with enough acidity to cut through the heavy gravies and sauces, but some fruitiness to complement the savory flavors. You can select a sparkling wine, a white, a red, or a combination of any of them, depending on how many people will be in attendance.

Sparkling wine

It’s unfortunate that so many people associate sparkling wine with New Year’s Eve, weddings, or other very specific occasions. The fact is that sparklers pair excellently with all sorts of meals and get-togethers. And after all, isn’t Thanksgiving as much a celebration as any other holiday?

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Sparkling wine has the acidity and the fruitiness to balance and complement the Thanksgiving dinner, and the effervescence actually washes down the sauces and gravies quite effectively.

Try the following Texas wines in this category: Sparkling Brut from Messina Hof, McPherson Cellars Sparkling Wine from 4.0 Cellars, or Grand Cru Brut Champagne from Alexander Vineyards.

White wine

Because white wine has a lighter body and less complexity than red wine, it’s important to focus on the acidity and fruitiness to make sure it’s not inundated by Thanksgiving flavors. Perhaps the single best variety on this count is Albariño, a slightly effervescent wine from Spain. Also, vinho verde from Portugal might be a good choice. The most common variety of wine made in Texas that will work just fine is Viognier, a French varietal that grows extremely well in the Hill Country and the Texas High Plains.

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Try: McPherson Cellars Albariño, or the McPherson Marsanne, from 4.0 Cellars; Pedernales Cellars Viognier Reserve; Wedding Oak Winery Viognier Reserve; Swim Spot from Lewis Wines; or, for something different, the Gemütlichkeit from Lost Draw Cellars.

Red wine

Because of the cooler temperatures in November, people do tend to lean towards the comfort of red wines. Despite the generally accepted wisdom of serving white wine with chicken or turkey, red wine works exceptionally well here. Again, light body with good acidity and fruitiness is the rule of thumb.

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Try: Carignan, Granache, or Sangiovese from Lost Draw Cellars; Sangiovese or Sophia Marie (a rosé) from Messina Hof; McPherson Mourvèdre or Tre Colore from 4.0 Cellars; Skeleton Key or Enchante from William Chris Vineyards; or Signor Vineyards Pinot Noir.

Dessert wine

Finally, after you’ve digested a bit, if there’s room for dessert, consider a dessert wine to go with your pie. A couple of excellent suggestions would be the Jacquez or Cibola from William Chris Vineyards, or the Sauternes from Alexander Vineyards.

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Of course, if there’s time in the next couple of weeks, you’re welcome to try some of these wines, keeping the flavors of Thanksgiving in mind as you sip, on one of our daily Texas Wine Tours.

We look forward to seeing you soon; and wish you the most joyous and delightful holiday.