Thanksgiving wine pairings: No rules but focus on taste


Thanksgiving wine pairings aren’t about pairing perfection. The best options for Thanksgiving wine pairings focus on the taste.

After planning the turkey size, side dishes and desserts, the Thanksgiving beverages are last on the list. Often, wine is served at some point during the Thanksgiving feast. From aperitif to digestif, wine can be paired with every part of the Thanksgiving meal. When it comes to Thanksgiving wine pairings, you don’t have to be a master sommelier.

Thinking about wines for a Thanksgiving meal, wine rules don’t necessarily need to apply. Truthfully, the old school rules about certain wines with certain proteins have been pushed aside for a while. While some flavors work better together, the true guiding force should be taste.

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Everyone has a preference when it comes to wine. Some drinkers love an oaky chardonnay while other people prefer a buttery one. Trying to make everyone happy with a single type of wine is probably going to be impossible. A better solution is to have one white and one red wine for the Thanksgiving meal.

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Still, deciding on a white and red wine can be a daunting task. Walking through a wine shop could have your head spinning. When choosing a wine think about wines that you’ve liked in the past. Was there an amazing Pinot Noir that you had at your birthday dinner or maybe there was an interest chenin blanc at a friend’s brunch? Each of those wines had some flavor, like cherries or pears, which made it appealing to you. Look for wines that have similar flavor profiles.

Even though exploring wine can be entertaining, some people would prefer a simple list to spark some Thanksgiving wine pairing ideas. While not a sommelier or untitled wine expert, a few wines have been Thanksgiving winners over the years. These wines have been served at our Thanksgiving feasts with relative success. Some guests may have preferred their usual favorite, the wine bottles were empty at the end of the night, which is always a positive sign.

Here are FoodSided’s suggestions for Thanksgiving wine pairings.

Thanksgiving wine pairings, Van Duzer Vineyards, photo by Cristine Struble


Prior to the big Thanksgiving feast, an appertif is a delightful start to the eating festivities. A sparkling wine is often a great choice. Instead of an expensive French champagne, an Italian prosecco or a Spanish cava can be a delightful choice. Cava is a great choice because it is fruity and crisp. Italian prosecco is quite effervescent and sweet.

Another good idea for pre-meal drinking is rose. Yes, summer’s favorite wine is a popular choice for Thanksgiving. Rose is light enough to drink all throughout the Thanksgiving meal. Choices like Whispering Angel or VieVite rose are delightful choices. These lighter wines can go from pre-meal all the way through dessert, too.

Lastly, a light, fruity wine white is a lovely choice for a pre-meal cheese platter. A choice like Pinot Blanc is a smart choice. The Van Duzer Pinto Blanc is a lovely pairing for a warm camembert or a stronger manchengo. The flavors of stone fruit and even a bright lime awaken the palate for the hearty Thanksgiving feast to come.

Thanksgiving wine pairings, Discovery Point, photo by Cristine Struble

The Feast

Everyone has a definite opinion when it comes to wines and turkey. Does the traditional rule of white wine with poultry still apply or does taste rule the day? Truthfully, personal preference still rules.

A few wines that seemed to work well over the years come from the same vineyard. Van Duzer Vineyards from Willamette Valley, Oregon. The vineyard focuses on sustainability which produces superior fruit that is quite flavorful. Additionally, the vineyard minimizes its environmental impact.

Oregon is known for its Pinot Noir wines. Van Duzer has an amazing Estate Pinot Noir. The fruit notes, specifically dark red fruits, compliment the Thanksgiving turkey. Without heavy tannins, the Estate Pinot Noir is quite drinkable both with a meal and after. Even the underlying spicy notes, slightly peppery, can balance the richness of the turkey and side dishes.

The Van Duzer Estate Pinot Noir can be found at various retailers. While prices vary, the average bottle price is approximately $20.

Carrying over from the pre-meal appetizers, the Van Duzer Pinot Blanc could be served with the main meal as well. The stone fruit flavors and other bright notes can play off the roasted turkey. The lighter, bright flavors can cut through the robust Thanksgiving side dishes.

Lastly, another Pinot Noir is often on our Thanksgiving table. The Discovery Point Pinot Noir from Martinborough, New Zealand offers a jammy option for the Thanksgiving dinner. The juicy, jammy, fruit flavor is delightful contrast to the turkey. The underlying cranberry notes is comparable to the traditional cranberries served on the Thanksgiving table. Quite drinkable, this New Zealand Pinot Noir is a great option for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving wine pairings, Camus Cognac, photo by Cristine Struble


By the time dessert comes around, wine pairing may not be the first thought. Some people may not want a cup of coffee with that apple pie. Wine works with pies, cakes and a variety of sweet treats.

A Syrah is a fuller bodied wine that can stand up to the rich dessert flavors. The Van Duzer Estate Syrah has licorice flavors that balance the rich flavors of a sweet dessert. Even the hints of tobacco can work with a rich pecan pie or chocolate dessert.

Another option would be a French cognac. Under strict regulations, true French cognac is made from a specific type of grape and is distilled under specific guidelines. Cognac has a more robust flavor and is often sipped after a meal.

A favorite French cognac is Camus Borderies VSOP. This limited edition Camus release is the ultimate way to end the Thanksgiving feast. Instead of eating dessert with a fork, drink those classic Thanksgiving flavors in a sniffer.

The Camus Borderies VSOP has milk chocolate notes with an underlying orange zest. With hints of spice, the French cognac has all the dessert flavors that people come to expect. Smooth to drink, Camus Borderies VSOP could have guests skip the extra slice of pie.

Next: Thanksgiving kitchen hacks

These Thanksgiving wine pairings are just a few ideas for the Thanksgiving feast. Some people might agree with these suggestions and other people might have a very different opinion.

No matter what is served at the Thanksgiving meal, raise a toast to family, friends, life, laughter and togetherness. Let your glass never be empty and your table always be full.