Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner, and that perennial question keeps popping into mind: what is the best wine with turkey? Does red wine pair with turkey? Is white wine best with turkey? How do you pair Thanksgiving side dishes and wine? Moreover, you aren’t looking for just any wine, you are looking for a fantastic wine pairing with turkey!
WINE PAIRINGS WITH TYPES OF TURKEY
Since the turkey is the focal point, let’s consider the many variations: roasted, baked, brined, smoked and deep-fried turkey can all accommodate different kinds of wine. What about Tofurky and Turducken? The iterations can seem endless. To keep things simple, reference this wine pairing guide for Thanksgiving. In two minutes, you’ll have your Thanksgiving wine-shopping list completed.
If you dig a geekier approach, here are some additional tips for finding a fantastic wine for your Thanksgiving turkey.
Pairing Wine with Roasted or Baked Turkey
If you are roasting or baking your turkey, chances are you’ll brine it to help keep it moist and to amp up its flavor. (If you are new to brining or if you wouldn’t mind a refresher, K-J’s culinary team has you covered. Alternatively, if you are reading this on Wednesday night with no time left to brine, check out the Harold McGee Turkey Experiment conducted by K-J’s Executive Chef Justin Wangler. You’ll be sure to impress your guests with a perfectly cooked bird AND your fantastic wine pairing for that turkey.)
Of the possible turkey cooking methods above, roasted and baked turkey will offer the mildest flavors. This turkey preparation method will match best with lighter wines like whites — especially oak-aged Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The K-J AVANT Chardonnay and Vintner’s Reserve series provide perfect Thanksgiving wine picks. If you prefer a little more power for your fantastic Thanksgiving wine pairing, try the Grand Reserve or Jackson Estate Chardonnays or Pinot Noirs. I think the Outland Ridge Pinot Noir is fantastic with turkey because its cool Mendocino County, Anderson Valley origin gives it a lovely freshness and red fruit tones that don’t clobber this more delicate turkey preparation. If you are buying white wine for Thanksgiving, try the Jackson Estate Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay for its toasty notes that match the roasted turkey skin and crisp finish that cleans up the palate.
Pairing Wine with Tofurkey
If you are opting for a meatless Thanksgiving, popping a Tofurky roast rather than a bird in the oven, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir remain great wine pairings. Vegetarian or vegan, meatless Thanksgiving mains tend to be based on neutral grains like wheat and rice as well as soy. Like roasted or baked turkey, they need milder wine options.
Pairing Wine with Smoked Turkey
For your best wine pairing with smoked turkey, take the flavors up a notch in intensity. Wines with new oak maturation, or oak aging, are terrific with smoked turkey because they taste of the smoky and toasty notes given to wines by newly charred barrels. A Zinfandel, largely considered to be “America’s red wine grape”, even though it originally hails from Croatia, would be a fun option as would a Rhône-style blend with Grenache and Syrah. The spicy tones in these three grape varieties will meld nicely with the smokiness that penetrates the turkey flesh.
Pairing Wine with Fried Turkey
A fried Thanksgiving turkey calls for a wine as lavishly flavorful as it is. A fried turkey usually has a definite sweetness as brown sugar is often used in the rub that will coat the turkey. This melds well with the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes that also typically have considerable sweetness (sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows or candied yams, green bean casserole with fried onions, cranberry sauce, etc.) All of these work brilliantly with a vibrantly aromatic wine that is a touch off-dry, like the Vintner’s Reserve Riesling. If you’d rather stick to a dry wine, try the Grand Reserve Rosé, which shows a generously fruit-driven nose combined with the spiciness of Syrah and Grenache. Yep, that’s right — rosé wine with turkey is a great combo! Rosé isn’t just for summer!
Pairing Wine with Turducken
Finally, it is Turducken that delivers a flavor whammy on Thanksgiving Day! Turducken pairs best with rich wines, thanks especially to the duck in the trio. Fantastic wine pairings with Turducken are Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Any of the bold, dark-fruited and juicy wines in the K-J range will meld nicely with this decadent main. Additionally, their grippier tannins will revive the palate after a more flavorful (if fattier) bite of the Turducken.
UNIQUE RECIPES FOR YOUR THANKSGIVING DAY TURKEY
If you are looking for new ideas for your Thanksgiving table, the K-J culinary team has suggestions at the ready. Here, you’ll find new twists on cornbread stuffing, collard greens, and leafy salads with fall fruits – all with fantastic wine pairings for each side dish.
Scrapping the turkey but feeling guilty about it? How about turkey meatballs with cranberry glaze to appease your – or your family’s – traditional yearnings? If you are making a mini-meal of these, I love the suggestion of the Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon in the post. However, if you’re offering them as nibbles when guests walk in the door, serve a crisp glass of the Vintner’s Reserve Rosé, made primarily of Pinot Noir and Syrah, for a festive visual match as well as a terrific wine pairing for turkey meatballs. Rosé is the perfect compromise between red and white wine!
Whatever wine you serve on Thanksgiving Day, the Kendall-Jackson family of wines offers something for everyone. Red wine with turkey? Check. White wine with turkey? Check. Terrific wines for turkey? Of course! Happy Thanksgiving from the K-J family – from the grape growers and winemakers to the culinary and warehouse teams to the Jackson family itself!
If you need help finding any of these wines in a location near you, utilize our store locator.
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