Popular Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

Holiday Drinks, Drink Guides

Thanksgiving wine pairings

Thanksgiving is a time of unity, gratitude, and indulgence in a cornucopia of flavorful dishes. With a table laden with turkey, stuffing, and various other traditional foods, the task of selecting the perfect wine to complement this feast can become overwhelming. However, the art of wine pairing doesn’t have to be complex. In this guide, we will walk you through some popular Thanksgiving wine pairings that will elevate your dinner to a gourmet experience.

Navigating through wine pairing for Thanksgiving can be both exciting and intricate. Wines bring out the best in foods and can turn an ordinary meal into an extraordinary one. Your wine selection can significantly impact the texture, flavor, and overall experience of your Thanksgiving dinner. So, let’s dive into this culinary journey and explore some impeccable wine options that will harmonize beautifully with your Thanksgiving spread.

The Classics: Traditional Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving

When it comes to Thanksgiving wine pairing, some choices have stood the test of time. These classic wines not only pair excellently with a broad range of foods but also add a touch of sophistication to your holiday gathering.

Red Wines

wine pairing Thanksgiving

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a crowd-pleaser and a classic choice for Thanksgiving. It’s a red wine that is typically lighter in body, making it versatile enough to pair with the diversity of flavors found in a Thanksgiving meal. With its balanced acidity and lower tannins, Pinot Noir complements both white and dark turkey meat while enhancing the flavors of other dishes like stuffing and cranberry sauce.


Zinfandel is another red wine that makes it to the top of many Thanksgiving wine lists. This American favorite is well-suited for a meal that is essentially a celebration of harvest and American tradition. Zinfandels are fruit-forward and spicy, with enough structure to stand up to richer foods like gravy, ham, and roast turkey.

White Wines

Thanksgiving wine pairing


When it comes to white wines, Chardonnay is often the go-to choice. Its buttery texture and rich, oaky flavors can beautifully complement creamier dishes like mashed potatoes and gravy. Plus, it has enough acidity to cut through the richness of a butter-basted turkey.


For those who prefer a sweeter touch, Riesling is an excellent option. This white wine is known for its high acidity and sweet fruit flavors, making it a versatile choice that can balance out the saltiness of the turkey and the sweetness of the cranberry sauce.

The Modern Choices: New Twists on Wine Pairing for Thanksgiving

Moving beyond the classics, the world of wine is vast and constantly evolving. If you’re looking to switch things up this year, consider these modern and innovative wine choices that will bring a new flair to your Thanksgiving table.

Sparkling Wines 🍾


A bottle of Prosecco can add a splash of festivity to your Thanksgiving dinner. Its refreshing bubbles and light fruitiness make it a versatile choice for an aperitif, but it can also pair well with a variety of dishes throughout the meal. The high acidity cuts through the richness of foods like stuffing, while the light sweetness can complement dishes like sweet potato casserole.


If you’re looking for a luxurious touch, nothing beats real Champagne. With its intricate flavors and tiny, persistent bubbles, Champagne is incredibly food-friendly and can elevate even the most traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

Alternative Reds


If you’re a fan of lighter reds, Gamay is a fantastic alternative to Pinot Noir. Originating from the Beaujolais region in France, Gamay wines are light-bodied with vibrant fruit flavors, making them an excellent match for turkey and cranberry sauce.


For a bolder choice, consider a bottle of Malbec. With its rich, dark fruit flavors and higher tannins, Malbec can pair beautifully with darker, richer meats. If you’re planning to serve a smoked turkey or even a prime rib as part of your Thanksgiving feast, a Malbec can be an ideal companion.

For more modern choices, check out VinePair’s list of alternative wines perfect for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving dinner wine pairing

Expert Tips: How to Choose Your Thanksgiving Wine Pairing 🍷

  • Budget-Friendly Options: Don’t break the bank for a bottle of wine. Affordable wines like Côtes du Rhône for reds and Albariño for whites offer great value without compromising on taste.
  • Quantity Matters: As a rule of thumb, plan for one bottle of wine per adult guest. This ensures you’ll have enough to go around and maybe even some leftovers.
  • Serve in Sequence: Consider serving lighter wines before moving onto the bolder ones. For instance, you might want to start with a sparkling wine for the appetizers, followed by whites for the main course and reds for the meat courses.
  • Check the Temperature: White wines should be served chilled, but not ice cold. Reds, on the other hand, are best enjoyed at room temperature.

Selecting the ideal wines for your Thanksgiving feast involves more than just choosing between red and white. It’s an exercise in balancing flavors, styles, and even budgets. Below are some expert tips to guide you in making a savvy wine selection for your Thanksgiving gathering.

Budget-Friendly Options

Côtes du Rhône for Reds

If you’re a fan of red wines but don’t want to spend a fortune, Côtes du Rhône offers exceptional value. These wines from the Rhône Valley in France are not only pocket-friendly but also quite versatile. They typically have a medium body with spicy, fruit-forward flavors that pair well with a variety of dishes including turkey, stuffing, and even roasted vegetables.

Albariño for Whites

When it comes to affordable white wines, Albariño is a star. Originating from the Galicia region of Spain, this white wine is celebrated for its high acidity and aromatic profile featuring citrus and green apple notes. Albariño can effortlessly match lighter dishes like salads and seafood, but it’s also robust enough to stand up to turkey and mashed potatoes.

Quantity Matters

Calculating the Right Amount

A cardinal rule for any event involving wine is to make sure you have enough to go around. The general guideline is to plan for one bottle of wine per adult guest. This ensures everyone can have multiple servings throughout the meal, and you might even have some bottles left over for future occasions or late-night sipping.

Offering Variety

Remember, not everyone has the same wine preference. So, consider getting a mix of reds, whites, and perhaps even a bottle or two of sparkling wine. This way, you cater to varied tastes and also offer pairing options for different courses.

wine pairing for Thanksgiving

Serve in Sequence

Starting with Sparkling

It’s often a good idea to begin your meal with something light and refreshing. Sparkling wines like Champagne or Prosecco make excellent aperitifs and set the tone for the festivities ahead. The bubbles and high acidity awaken the palate, making it more receptive to the flavors to come.

Progressing to Reds

As the meal unfolds and richer, more complex dishes are served, consider transitioning to red wines. Heavier wines like Zinfandel or Malbec are more suited to stand up to the intensity of dishes like roast turkey or prime rib. This strategic sequencing elevates the entire dining experience.

Check the Temperature

Reds: Room Temperature

Contrary to some popular beliefs, red wines should not be served warm. Room temperature, as far as wine is concerned, is around 62-68°F (16-20°C). Serving reds at this temperature helps to balance the flavors and aromas, allowing the wine to express its full complexity.

Whites: Chilled But Not Ice-Cold

White wines should be served chilled to bring out their crispness and flavors. However, avoid serving them ice cold as that can numb the flavors and make the wine taste flat. A temperature range of 49-55°F (9-13°C) is generally ideal for most white wines.

wine pairings


The joy of Thanksgiving is not just in the food but in the entire dining experience, and the right wine can make all the difference. Whether you stick to the classics like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay or venture out with modern choices like Prosecco and Malbec, selecting the perfect Thanksgiving wine pairing enhances the richness and complexity of your festive feast.

We invite you to shop online or in-store at Zipps Liquor. We’re thrilled to have been recognized as the Retailer Of The Year in Texas by ABL. We offer an extensive range of both international and local brands to Texans at great prices. Choose between convenient pickup and delivery options when shopping online, or visit your nearby Zipps Liquor store in Texas to discover all your favorite beverages. Cheers to a fulfilling and flavorful Thanksgiving! 🦃🍷🥂

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