Selecting the perfect Thanksgiving wine  pairings can leave you with a serious case of heartburn, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Whether you are hosting the holiday meal or simply in charge of bringing the wine, let me help ease that holiday stress by taking the guesswork out of Thanksgiving wine pairings.

I always like to start with a glass of sparkling for the appetizer course as a nice way to wake up your palate. I also like to serve a white and red option with the main course.

My favorite varietals for Thanksgiving include the white aromatic grapes (Riesling, Gewurtztraminer and Viognier), Chenin Blanc and of course Chardonnay.

I had the opportunity to attend the Virginia Wine Summit last month at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. We sampled Viogniers from around the world and the Virginia Viogniers really made quite an impression. At its best, Viognier has the creamy viscosity of Chardonnay, the floral, fruit and spice notes of a Riesling or Gewurtraminer and the refreshing acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc, making it a very attractive partner for your Thanksgiving feast.

When it comes to red, think about wines that boast bright fruit and good acidity. I gravitate to Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Gamay (Beaujolais) and Cabernet Franc. A little wine trivia – did you know that Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon? I also wouldn’t rule out a great rosé especially from Provence. Many people only drink rosé in the summer, but you are really missing out. This is perhaps one of the most versatile Thanksgiving wine pairings with its bright red fruit and vibrant acidity. This is a wine that should be served chilled and is bound to please both red and white drinkers. If you are looking for one wine to get you through the entire meal, reach for a sparkling rosé.  I love the J Brut Rosé as a nice mid-price option or if you want to splurge reach for the Veuve Clicquot Rosé Brut.

Pinot Meunier is a clone of Pinot Noir and is one of the grapes used in Champagne. The best examples boast fruit notes of raspberry and cranberry in addition to nice herbal and floral notes which make it a lovely match with that homemade cranberry sauce and stuffing.  I am going to make a sweet sausage and sage stuffing with cranberries, this is sure to be a match made in heaven!

Keep in mind that turkey has a pretty neutral flavor, so you really want to keep your side dishes in mind when choosing your wines. Most sides tend to have lots of cream and butter, so I really try to choose wines that have a crisp refreshing acidity that will cut through that fat and cleanse your palate in between bites.

If you are serving ham instead of turkey, a Cabernet Franc or Gewurztraminer will be your best choice. With so many options, why not try drink outside the box and try something new this year?  Now, “Go eat your food with gladness and drink your wine with a joyful heart for it is now that God favors what you do.”  ~Ecclesiastes 9:7

Happy Thanksgiving!

Note: Most of the vintages listed below are current releases. Sparkling wines listed without a vintage are non-vintage or NV.

Sparkling Wine

Inexpensive (Under $15)

Mid-Price ($15-$30)

Premium ($30-$50)

Splurge ($50 & Over)

White Wine

Inexpensive (Under $15)

Mid-Price ($15-$30)

Premium ($30-$50)

Splurge ($50 & Over)

Red Wine

Inexpensive (Under $15)

Mid-Price ($15-$30)

Premium ($30-$50)

Splurge ($50 & Over)

 

 

 

 

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