Which Wines to Serve at Your Thanksgiving Meal

When you're choosing wines for your Thanksgiving table, it seems simple: What goes best with turkey? While that's one way of going about it, it probably makes more sense to figure out what else is happening on the table.
By: Rupa Bhattacharya

When you're choosing wines for your Thanksgiving table, it seems simple: What goes best with turkey? While that's one way of going about it, it probably makes more sense to figure out what else is happening on the table.

Turkey is turkey is turkey, and matches well with anything from the hearty white (California Chardonnay or Viognier, Rhone blends) to the lightweight-but-firm red (Pinot Noir, well-made Merlot, Beaujolais Nouveau).

But where it really gets interesting is figuring out flavor pairings. If you've got a hearty cornbread-and-sausage stuffing, you'll want to go with something funky and red that can stand up to it, like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Rioja wine from Spain. If it's oyster-based, you'll want a minerally, crisp white, like a Sauvignon Blanc.

If you've got a lot of sweet side dishes ( sweet potatoes with marshmallows, I'm looking at you), you'll want to err on the side of sweeter, which, though it sounds counterintuitive, helps keep the dish from tasting too cloying and the wine from tasting too bitter. Riesling's a good call, as is warm-climate Pinot Grigio.

With several courses, try and keep the order going from white to red, smallest to biggest, and driest to sweetest. (Smallest to biggest? All that means is how much space the wine feels like it takes up in your mouth. Roll a few different wines around in your mouth and see how they feel. For example, as a general rule, Pinot Noir is smaller than Merlot which is smaller than Cabernet.)

Soup can be tricky, because a good pairing provides textural contrast – so your best bet for a soup starter would be sparkling. There's tons of affordable sparkling wines made in the USA (check out Oregon or New Mexico), or try cava from Spain or prosecco from Italy.

If you're using wine in your gravy, drink something similar at the table. If you're uncorking a special-occasion wine for the holiday, clearly we don't expect you to cook with it, but try to stay in the same grape family or overall flavor profile.

Thanksgiving desserts are a little hard to match with wine. Port is wonderful with less-sweet desserts, chocolate or cheese, and most sweet wines are dessert in a glass. Think about spirits: hot chocolate spiked with pear brandy or peppermint schnapps, Cognac (which would be great with pumpkin pie), or mulled wine with dark rum, which complements autumn beautifully.

Oh, and Champagne goes with everything. Just saying.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Thirsty Thursday: Thanksgiving’s a Breeze Seabreezes

Cooking Channel's Seabreeze cocktail is the perfect morning beverage to wake you up to start that bird early on Thanksgiving.

This Guy Will Be Your Horrible Thanksgiving Boyfriend

A weird guy offers his services to be a fake boyfriend at a Thanksgiving dinner. His price? Just one awesome meal.

Party in Five: Modern, Rustic Thanksgiving Dinner

Try these tips for hosting a Thanksgiving party and in just a few steps you'll be entertaining your guests like a pro, from Devour the Blog, by Cooking Channel.

Thirsty Thursday: Apple Toddy

Cooking Channel's Apple Toddy is the perfect accompaniment to chilly winter nights and serves as a delicious reminder of seasonal pleasures.

Spotify Curates Music Based on Thanksgiving Turkey Size

Popular streaming site Spotify have developed a series of playlists that last as long as your turkey needs to sit in the oven.

Hump Day Snack: Last-Minute Thanksgiving Cocktails

Thanksgiving is only a day a way, but don't fret! This Apple-Pumpkin Beer Cocktail is easy to throw together at the last minute and will ease your tensions at the dinner table.

On TV

Unwrapped 2.0

9:30am | 8:30c

Unwrapped 2.0

10am | 9c

Unwrapped 2.0

10:30am | 9:30c

Food: Fact or Fiction?

11:30am | 10:30c

Food: Fact or Fiction?

12:30pm | 11:30c

Food: Fact or Fiction?

1:30pm | 12:30c

Good Eats

2pm | 1c

Good Eats

2:30pm | 1:30c

Big Bad BBQ Brawl

3:30pm | 2:30c

Burgers, Brew & 'Que

4:30pm | 3:30c

Burgers, Brew & 'Que

5:30pm | 4:30c

Man Fire Food

6:30pm | 5:30c

Man Fire Food

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Man's Greatest Food

8pm | 7c

Man Fire Food

9:30pm | 8:30c

Cheap Eats

10:30pm | 9:30c

Good Eats

11pm | 10c

Good Eats

11:30pm | 10:30c

Man Fire Food

1am | 12c

Man Fire Food

1:30am | 12:30c

Cheap Eats

2:30am | 1:30c

Good Eats

3am | 2c

Good Eats

3:30am | 2:30c
What's Hot
What's Hot

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

New Episodes Sundays 8|7c

Pick a Side!

The Snackdown

In our new animated series, we debate the most-pressing food matters of our time, like is cereal a soup?

So Much Pretty Food Here