Uncorking The Best Wines for Thanksgiving

Wines for Thanksgiving

If you’re anything like my family, Thanksgiving starts at about 11 a.m. when the Detroit Lions host their annual Turkey Day football game. This year, they host my hometown Chicago Bears so the wines of choice have some extra importance to them as my house will be filled early with die-hard Bear fans.

Thanksgiving Wine Pairings for an Aperitif and Appetizers | Winetraveler.com

The Pre-Game:

Start with the bubbles

Typically, this is when all the appetizers come out and consist of shrimp cocktailsummer sausage, and some sort of cheese platter. Pair these appetizers with bubbles that is something relatively light and refreshing. I suggest Ruinart Blanc de Blanc made from 100% Chardonnay. This Champagne will provide an amazing acidity to go with the previously mentioned apps and just about anything else you decide to munch on while watching whatever football game and the team the household is rooting for to win.

The Best Wine for Thanksgiving - Food and Wine Pairing Recommendations for Thanksgiving Day | Winetraveler.com

While you’re cooking:

Move onto the Beaujolais Nouveau

Most scenes in a Thanksgiving kitchen have multiple family members cooking and chatting the day away. The other family members seem to continuously walk through the kitchen stealing a taste while mom shouts, ‘Hey!’ for each passing thief. I can’t help think of the dad in “A Christmas Story” sneaking a taste of turkey while mom yells, ‘it’s not done cooking.’

This is the perfect time to break out something light and easy. I can’t think of a better (and fun) wine than a Beaujolais Nouveau. Made from the Gamay grape, this wine is super easy to drink as the “grapey bubblegum” red wine goes down like water. Check out a very affordable option from Louis Jadot. I’d even recommend dropping a tiny bit in the cranberry sauce.

RELATED: 5 Easy Fall Sangria Recipes To Try This Year

Pairing Wines with Turkey on Thanksgiving | Winetraveler.com

Turkey Time:

California Chardonnay

Cooking a turkey can be intense. From traditional oven baking it to smoking it all day, and even a deep-fried turkey has the foodie nation going wild. A complete game changer is, when it comes to pairing wine with the turkey, finding yourself drenching it in gravy, which adds richness to the dish.

If I may dare say, pair your turkey with a California Chardonnay. Not many Sommeliers choose this type of wine, but I encourage giving it a try. The Chardonnay is rich in body and flavor and usually completed with a hint of cream and butter. I consider California Chardonnays to be a perfect pairing when matching it with turkey and gravy and if I had to choose, I’d pair it with the 2016 Ridge Estate from the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.

The Best Wines for Thanksgiving and How to Pair Them with Turkey and Side Dishes | Winetraveler.com

Don’t forget the sides:

Move onto the red wines

Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and whatever else the family enjoys to make it can be quite a daunting task when finding one wine to pair with it all. The one thing all these dishes have in common is a sense of earth. I suggest finding a delicious red wine that might be able to match the earthiness and weight of the majority of these dishes.

While many wines do well here, my favorite is Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. The blends are predominantly made with the Grenache varietal and offer earth (or non-fruit elements) and power (full-bodied) not often seen elsewhere. The weight of the wine will hold up well to the richness of the sides and the earthiness will be an additive to a perfectly paired wine. My personal favorite comes from the produce Vieux Telegraphe.


Complete the meal with a Tawny Port

If a food coma has not come about by now, pumpkin pie might be the popular choice for dessert, which means it is time to bring out the Tawny PortGraham’s 20-year tawny is not only affordable but also delicious providing nuts, raisins, caramel, walnuts, and additional flavor notes. All of which would also be flavors you wouldn’t mind complementing with a piece of pumpkin pie. I’d even recommend drizzling a bit on top of the pie and sit back and relax.

RELATED: 11 Delicious Facts About Port and Fortified Wine

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Adam Sweders is the Wine Director for all of DineAmic Group's restaurants in Chicago including his prized possession, Prime & Provisions. Prime & Provisions is a top Chicago steakhouse offering a wine list of more than 300 wines. Sweders carefully curated the list, which earned the restaurant multiple accolades including Wine Spectator calling Prime & Provisions' one of the '13 restaurants not to miss for wine lovers.' Knowledgeable and passionate about the fermented grape, Sweders knows a thing or two about where to find the best wines, best pairings and not to mention what he feels will be booming regions to come for the curious wine-seeker.

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