Best wine for Thanksgiving (Turkey)

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holidays for wine drinkers, with many families gathering to enjoy their favorite dishes. But what about pairing those dishes with the perfect bottle?

To help you out, I’ve put together a list of the best wine to pair with Thanksgiving turkey.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is produced from a white wine grape of the same name. It’s one of the most popular wines, and you can find it in many grocery stores. It is a dry wine, which means it has low levels of acidity. This makes it ideal for pairing with turkey because it will help cut through all that richness without overpowering your bird’s taste.

Chardonnay is also a great choice for turkey because it’s a versatile wine. You can enjoy it with almost any dish, including Thanksgiving dinner.

Try one of these excellent Chardonnays with your Turkey at Thanksgiving:

Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay

This vineyard is located in California, and it’s a great place to start your search for a good Chardonnay with crab legs. This wine is made from grapes grown in the Sonoma Valley, where the climate is ideal for growing them. Fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels for richness, toastiness, and complexity.

J. Lohr Chardonnay

This California winery has been making award-winning wines for over 30 years, and this Chardonnay is no exception. They use grapes from their own vineyards in Monterey County, which means that you can be sure the quality is always high. This wine has a rich golden color with notes of citrus and vanilla on the nose.

Ladera Vineyards Chardonnay

This Chardonnay is made from grapes grown in the Santa Lucia Highlands, which is a cool climate area. It’s aged in French oak barrels for about 15 months before being bottled and has notes of vanilla and toasted hazelnuts on the nose.

Hagafen Cellars “Reserve” Napa Valley Chardonnay

Made from grapes grown in Napa Valley. It has a rich golden color with notes of citrus, vanilla, and toasted hazelnuts on the nose. It’s aged for about 18 months in French oak barrels before being bottled.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a red wine grape that produces light-bodied, dry wines. One of the most versatile grapes that produce everything from sweet, sparkling wines to rich Bordeaux blends. In America, we typically associate Pinot Noir with Oregon and California, where the grape has flourished for centuries. The best thing about Pinot Noir? It pairs well with turkey!

It may seem like a bold statement to say that you can pair any wine with turkey, but there really are certain characteristics that make certain wines perfect for this Thanksgiving classic.

Pinot Noir is a light-bodied red wine made in cooler climates, such as Oregon or France’s Burgundy (where the famous label originated). These wines have more acidity than other reds because vineyards produce them from lower-yielding grapes called “low yielders.”

This means they’re higher in tannins, those bitter chemicals that give your tongue a good workout when drinking red wine. They also have higher alcohol content because they are harvested earlier than other grapes, think Cabernet Sauvignon. But that’s not a bad thing.

I recommend one of these great examples with your Turkey:

2016 Domaine Lecheneaut Les Pruliers

This is towards the more expensive end of the price range but no doubt this is an exceptional wine. Les Pruliers has a strong color. The wine offers aromas of fresh red fruit, wild prunes, and licorice. As it ages, it adds depth and roundness. It has aromas of cocoa, and smoked meat.

2019 Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge

More affordable is the Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge. This is an organic pinot noir that’s delicate, easy to drink, and naturally delicious. It has a fresh, crunchy, summer pudding fruit flavor with crisp acidity and just lip-smacking moreishness. And because it’s low in sulfur, it’s great for summer or winter drinking.

2018 Corazza Pinot Nero

At the lower end of the price range is the Pinot Nero. This is a unique wine from Friuli, a region in northeastern Italy. It’s made from the pinot noir grape and is unlike other pinot noirs you might be used to. It’s light, bright, and easy to drink.

Syrah/Shiraz

If you’re looking for a bold, full-bodied wine with some tannins, Syrah is your best choice. Grown in Australia and France and sometimes referred to as Shiraz. This red wine is a great choice for those who love Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. It has similar characteristics to those wines but is slightly less tannic and acidic than Syrah/Shiraz from California.

Australian wines also tend not to be aged as long. They are often more acidic with stronger tannins and are ideal for drinking when released.

I have selected the following examples that I think you will appreciate:

Calcareous Reserve Syrah 2020, Paso Robles

From the winery. “Aged in 40% deeply toasted French barrels for 18 months, our Estate Syrah is made to showcase the depth and power of the varietal from our soil. Full of juicy blackberry, dark cocoa, and tar mingling with rich fully ripe tannin, this massive wine is built for marbled rib eye and slow-smoked pork shoulder. It should age exquisitely for 12+ years.”    

Lewis Cellars Alec’s Blend 2018

A great wine to pair with. Flavors of black and red fruits with black pepper. Notes of vanilla, and chocolate with good acidity. Blended 57% Syrah, 28% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest Cabernet Franc.

Seppeltsfield 2018 Shiraz (Barossa Valley)

You can’t have a list of great Shiraz without a Barossa Valley and this is a cracker. It is a bold red with a fruity bouquet of dark cherry and blackberry with hints of oak, vanilla, and coffee. Acidity is good with medium tannins.  Highly recommended.

Zinfandel

Zinfandel is a red wine grape variety, grown in many different parts of the world. It’s best known as a Californian wine but is also grown in Australia and Italy.

What makes Zinfandel such an interesting grape? The answer lies in its versatility. When made as a dry red (meaning without added sugar), Zinfandel can be bold and spicy, with strong flavors like black cherry and pepper spice. But if you add some sweetness to the mix, you get something more approachable like blackberry jam or blueberry pie, two of my favorite things when we’re eating turkey.

In addition to making great wines from both styles, there are even more options for pairing this wine with your Thanksgiving meal. Try one of these excellent examples:

Journeyman Wines, San Lorenzo ‘The Pearl’ Old Vine Red (Alexander Valley)

A floral bouquet with notes of tobacco and anise. This is a bold, full-bodied red. It has rich flavors of chocolate, with dark fruits and pepper. Velvet smooth mouthfeel and a tannic finish. Let it breathe before serving.

Hartford Family Winery Hartford Dina’s Vineyard Zinfandel

Hartford Russian River Valley Zinfandel presents aromas of ripe plum, blackberry, and black cherry. White pepper and allspice add complexity to this wine’s fruity bouquet. A burst of blueberry, raspberry, nutmeg, and chocolate flavors leads to a long-lasting finish.

Carlisle Papera Ranch Zinfandel 2020

Another excellent Zinfandel from Russian River, California. Ruby-red in color. On the nose, it is bright cherry with aromas of blackberry and raspberry with notes of vanilla and tobacco. It is medium-full-bodied and very smooth on the palate. 

Riesling

Riesling is a white wine that’s great for Thanksgiving, especially if you’re not sure what to get. It is generally dry and low in alcohol, so perfect for new wine drinkers or those who prefer sweeter drinks and don’t want something too heavy with alcohol. Riesling is more flavorful than your average white wine but still light and refreshing enough to be paired with food.

The best part is that Riesling is great with Thanksgiving foods. Described as having a sweet and fruity flavor, it pairs well with candied yams or even a warm apple pie for dessert. The acidity in this wine will help cut through all of the richness of your meal.

Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Riesling Kabinett 2017

This Kabinett is a fresh, crisp wine with lingering sweetness balanced by tart lemon-lime acidity. Delicate wisps of smoke and earth lend touches of complexity throughout, adding dimensions to its fruity character.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese

Spätlese Riesling is richer and more intense in flavor than Kabinett. It comes with a lively minerality that perfectly balances the bright white peach and lemon fruit you’ll find here. Worth seeking out.

Ransom Sunnyside Vineyard Riesling (Willamette Valley of Oregon)

From the vineyard themselves, “This single vineyard, old vine bottling from the South Salem Hills is a classic, terroir-revealing Riesling. Opening with fresh fruit aromas of key lime and pineapple, the palate offers vivid acidity and flavors of Meyer lemon zest and candied ginger wrapped around a mineral vein. The wine finishes fresh and bright, with a beguiling note of honeysuckle blossom. A delight to drink now, but also exceedingly age-worthy.” 

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice if you’re hoping to match wine with turkey. It has a light, crisp taste that will complement the meat without overpowering it. If you’re serving stuffing or gravy alongside your main course, this wine will be an excellent addition. For dessert or as an appetizer, Sauvignon Blanc also pairs well with cranberry sauce and other fruity desserts like apple pie or pumpkin pie.

The acidity in Sauvignon Blanc will help cut through the richness of the meal, but it will also make your wine seem more refreshing on a warm day. Try a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or California. You can also try pairing it with chicken if you’re not in the mood for turkey. The crisp acidity will help cut through the fattiness of this dish, but it won’t overpower it as some wines might do.

Currently, I am recommending these great examples of Sauvignon Blanc:

Bread & Butter North Coast Sauvignon Blanc

This Sauvignon Blanc has bright aromas of lemon zest and hints of tropical fruit, lively flavors with citrus notes followed by a rich texture and a clean finish.

2021 Decoy California Sauvignon Blanc

Aromas of pineapple, lemon, and green apple lead the way for this crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Underneath those fresh scents is a layer of lime zest that adds another exciting dimension to what you taste, which lingers in your mouth long after each sip.

Lieu Dit Sauvignon Blanc 2017

This Sauvignon Blanc has aromas of ripe kiwi, lemon, and lime accented by hints of green apples. The palate is full and creamy with a rich mouthfeel that is balanced by crisp acidity.

Conclusion

There are many different wines to pair with turkey, but I’m sure that you can find something that works well for your tastes. If you want a little bit of everything, look for a wine that has high acidity and light tannins. This will help cleanse your palate between bites of turkey. If you want to play it safe, look no further than Pinot Noir or Syrah/Shiraz but any of the wines above will be an excellent accompaniment at Thanksgiving. For me, Pinot Noir is the best red wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner.

Looking for a great recipe for Thanksgiving? This one by Lauren Allen on Tastesbetterfromscratch.com is a hit and is highly rated.

If you are having lobster at Thanksgiving, check out my best wine for lobster post.