Perfect Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

Published: November 5, 2018

Perfect Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

You probably remember Thanksgiving dinner when you were a child—visiting your grandparents’ house or waiting for the family to arrive as your mother or grandmother goes to work on dinner. Perhaps your father or grandfather carved the turkey. As we’ve grown older, many of us have taken on these traditional roles ourselves, celebrating with our children, who now may have children of their own.

The great thing about Thanksgiving as an adult? Well, besides no longer having to sit at the kids’ table, we get to drink!

For those very enthusiastic about wine, Thanksgiving is a unique time of the year where the menu—often consisting of several appetizers or snacks, entrees, sides, and desserts—provides the opportunity for not only multiple glasses of wine, but also multiple pairings. This also means that, if you’re a guest this year who isn’t the best in the kitchen, bringing a bottle of wine (or beer, or even the makings for a festive cocktail) to share is an excellent contribution.

A note: as always, please drink responsibly. Be sure you have your driving arrangements planned before consuming alcohol. After each glass of wine, it is recommended that you also drink one glass of water (this is especially true for champagne or sparkling wine, which can make you feel less thirsty thanks to its fizz). You want to have a pleasant time with no hangovers or headaches!

Start off with a sparkle

Many cooking magazines and shows recommend starting off your Thanksgiving festivities with a glass of sparkling wine. You may notice that your guests are smiling more, standing up straighter, and the fizz will give you and your guests (or your host) a little bit of energy.

Keep in mind that sparkling wines don’t have to be sweet; in fact, some can be very dry. Brut sparkling wines will be drier and have less sugar than doux, which will be very sweet. Don’t worry about serving them in flutes, either. Regular wine glasses are fine.

What goes with what?

Here are some suggestions that make life a little easier. Choose one or two bottles from each category depending on what you’ve got on the menu and how many people are going to be there—of course, if you know of your host’s (or have a) favorite type, bring it along too. If you have several adults coming, you may want to buy two of anything you think might be popular.

Hearty Dishes

Potato gratin Amarone
Turkey with gravy Pinot noir
Roasted veggies Negroamaro
Baked macaroni and cheese Zinfandel/Primivito
Wild rice stuffing Grenache/Garnacha
Classic stuffing Valpolicella Ripasso
Mashed potatoes Gamay

Your Greens

Green beans Albarino
Roasted beets Colombard
Broccoli Casserole Sauvignon Blanc
Green Bean Casserole Pinot Gris
Creamed Spinach Vermentino
Brussel Sprouts Soave

Sweet Sides

Cornbread Riesling
Glazed Carrots Torrontes
Sweet Potato Casserole Lambrusco
Maple Roasted Squash Schiava
Honey Baked Ham Gewurztraminer
Cranberry Sauce  


Apple Pie or Crisp Vin Santo
Pumpkin Pie or Roll Banyuls
Crème Brulee Old PX
Carrot Cake Ice Wine
Pecan Pie Saunternes/Barsac
Pineapple Upside-down Cake Late Harvest Riesling
  Moscato D’asti

Don’t overpower your menu

While offering wine to enhance flavor is the goal, sometimes we tend to choose wines that are a little too full-bodied. Wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay may overpower the flavor of your (or your host’s) food. While they may certainly still match, they may not match as well as some of the other wines listed.

Use dessert to wind things down

Nothing compliments a good dessert like a good dessert wine. Those Late Harvest Rieslings go wonderfully with most fall-themed desserts, though you can really drink your dessert if you consider things like coffee, Kahlua, and cream or Bailey’s. Dessert wines also go well with more savory desserts.

Consider Cocktails

Cocktails and beer are also good options for those in your life who don’t like wine. A bonus here is that making cocktails allows you to really cater flavors exactly to your menu, which may make things more cohesive—but that also means an extra task taking place in the kitchen or bar. If you’re a guest who is more of a cocktail type, consider offering to make them. If you’re a host, consider recipes that allow you to make the cocktails in advance, by the batch, or in a crockpot.

Whether you’re drinking or not, Thanksgiving is the time of year to really focus on things and people you’re thankful for. If you plan on enjoying some of these pairings, please remember to drink responsibly.

Head over to our Facebook page to share what you’re thankful for this year, or tell us some of your favorite Thanksgiving stories!