What’s the big deal about Thanksgiving wine? You might think, “It’s just a drink, right?” But hey, have you ever been to a Thanksgiving dinner and thought, “Why does this wine taste kind of… off with this turkey?” Well, welcome to the quest of figuring out what wine goes with Thanksgiving dinner.

Okay, so here’s the tea. Or should I say, the wine? Thanksgiving isn’t just any meal. It’s a medley of flavors. Sweet, salty, herby, meaty, fruity – we got it all. And that’s where wine walks in.

The right wine can elevate those flavors. Imagine you’ve got cranberry sauce on your plate, and the wine you’re sipping makes it taste even more cranberry-ish.


But here’s the catch. Not every wine fits the bill. Some wines clash with the turkey, some overpower the mashed potatoes, and some are just too darn fancy for grandma’s pumpkin pie.

Hence, it’s super important to know what wine goes with Thanksgiving dinner.

Understanding Thanksgiving and Its Wine Culture

Brief History of Thanksgiving

So, way back when, there were these Pilgrims and Native Americans, right? They had this massive feast to celebrate a good harvest.

Think of it as the OG Thanksgiving. There wasn’t any Macy’s parade or football, but they probably had some killer dishes. Now, whether they had wine, I can’t say. But it sets the mood, doesn’t it?

Role of Wine in Thanksgiving Celebrations

Fast forward a couple of centuries. Wine’s taken center stage. Think about it. What’s better than listening to Uncle Bob’s wild stories with a glass of wine in hand?

Wine’s become a staple, not just because it’s delish, but because it complements the food, makes the atmosphere feel more festive, and, let’s be real, sometimes you just need a glass to handle all the family drama.

There’s this certain ritual to opening a bottle, pouring it, and toasting to what you’re thankful for.

Plus, there’s always that buzz around what wine goes with Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone’s got an opinion, from Aunt Martha to your wine-connoisseur friend. And hey, that’s what we’re here for!

Factors to Consider When Choosing Thanksgiving Wines

Variety of Thanksgiving Dishes

First off, Thanksgiving isn’t a one-size-fits-all kinda meal. Some people are all about the traditional turkey, while others might go vegan.

And let’s not forget the regional dishes. Cornbread in the South, clambake in the Northeast, tamales in the Southwest. So many flavors, so many wines.

Personal Preferences and Dietary Restrictions

Then there’s the personal touch. Maybe your sister’s gone gluten-free, or your bestie’s doing the whole keto thing. Or perhaps you’ve got that one cousin who swears by organic everything.

This isn’t just about food, folks. Wines have their quirks too. Some are more sugary, some are dry, some are fruity. Knowing your crowd is key when figuring out what wine goes with Thanksgiving dinner.

Budget Considerations

And of course, the moolah aspect. Not all of us want to splurge on a bottle that costs as much as the entire meal.

There are some killer affordable wines out there that’ll wow your guests without emptying your wallet.

The Versatility of Sparkling Wines

Why Choose Sparkling Wines

Pop! That’s the sound of elevating your Thanksgiving to the next level. Sparkling wines aren’t just for New Year’s Eve; they’re a Thanksgiving game-changer.

Why, you ask?

They’re crisp, refreshing, and have these tiny bubbles that make everything feel fancy.

Plus, with a neutral palate, they dance well with almost everything on your table. So, when you’re wondering what wine goes with Thanksgiving dinner, remember the charm of the sparkle.

Pairing Sparkling Wines with Thanksgiving Dishes

Ah, the best part. Imagine taking a bite of that golden-brown turkey and then sipping on some bubbly.

The effervescence cuts through the richness, making every bite an experience. And those side dishes?

Creamy mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce – sparkling wines complement them all. So, if you’re feeling adventurous or just want to shake things up, consider popping a bottle or two.

Top White Wines for Thanksgiving

Guess what? Whites are where it’s at for Thanksgiving. They’re generally lighter, fruitier, and, honestly, pretty darn versatile.


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Characteristics of Riesling This is like the fun, quirky cousin you always want to hang out with. Riesling is aromatic, often with hints of apple, pear, or even peach. Sometimes sweet, sometimes dry, it’s got a zestiness that keeps things lively.

Pairing Riesling with Thanksgiving Dishes With its fruity overtones, Riesling pairs incredibly with spicier dishes. Think spiced sweet potatoes or even that spicy stuffing. The sweetness also makes it a buddy for turkey, especially if you’ve got a sweeter glaze or marinade going on.


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Characteristics of Gewürztraminer Try saying that five times fast! This wine is an aromatic powerhouse with vibes of lychee, roses, and sometimes a touch of spice. It’s like the drama queen of wines, in a good way.

Pairing Gewürztraminer with Thanksgiving Dishes It’s bold. It’s flavorful. It stands up to dishes with big personalities. If you’ve got some curry in the mix or anything with a touch of heat, this wine’s your go-to. And for the turkey? Oh, it’s a match made in heaven.

Sauvignon Blanc

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Characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc Here comes the cool kid on the block. Sauvignon Blanc is zesty, with hints of green and tropical fruits. It’s like taking a mini tropical vacay in the middle of fall.

Pairing Sauvignon Blanc with Thanksgiving Dishes It’s all about the green. Green beans, Brussels sprouts, and even that herb-laden stuffing. The crispness balances out richer dishes and adds a touch of brightness to the meal.

Pinot Grigio

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Characteristics of Pinot Grigio Smooth operator, that’s Pinot Grigio. It’s light, citrusy, and just a tad bit pear-ish. It’s the kind of wine that never clashes, always harmonizes.

Pairing Pinot Grigio with Thanksgiving Dishes It’s like the best supporting actor of wines. Pinot Grigio goes with everything, making it easy for those who just can’t decide. From turkey to pies, it’s got your back.

Albariño and Viognier

Characteristics of Albariño and Viognier These two, though distinct, share a vibrant aromatic profile. Think floral, peachy, and sometimes even a bit nutty.

Pairing Albariño and Viognier with Thanksgiving Dishes Seafood starters? These wines are on it. They also love roasted veggies and, believe it or not, can be a refreshing contrast to richer dishes. So, if you’re pondering what wine goes with Thanksgiving dinner, give these a whirl!

Top Red Wines for Thanksgiving

You’ve heard of the reds, right? They’re bold, they’re sultry, and they bring some major flair to the Thanksgiving table. Let’s unbox these bad boys.

Pinot Noir

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Characteristics of Pinot Noir

Enter the superstar. Pinot Noir is like that effortlessly cool person everyone wants to be around. It’s medium-bodied, with flavors of cherry, raspberry, and sometimes a hint of earthiness. It’s kind of like autumn in a glass.

Pairing Pinot Noir with Thanksgiving Dishes

This gem is turkey’s best friend. The soft tannins, the fruity vibes, it just works. Whether your turkey is roasted, grilled, or even deep-fried, Pinot Noir complements it like no other. And the cranberry sauce? Oh boy, it’s a dreamy duo.


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Characteristics of Zinfandel

Zinfandel’s the wild child of the bunch. It’s got this zing, often bursting with blackberry, plum, and sometimes even a touch of spiciness. It’s the wine that tells you stories.

Pairing Zinfandel with Thanksgiving Dishes

Got some sweet and savory action on your plate? Zinfandel’s here for it. It’s especially fab with ham, if that’s on your Thanksgiving menu. But even with the classic turkey, Zinfandel adds a punch that’s hard to resist.


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Characteristics of Syrah

Dark and mysterious, that’s Syrah for you. Think flavors of dark fruits, pepper, and sometimes even a smoky hint. It’s like the intriguing book you can’t put down.

Pairing Syrah with Thanksgiving Dishes

If your Thanksgiving leans more towards the rich, hearty side, Syrah’s got you. It pairs brilliantly with lamb or any meat with a robust flavor. And if you’re throwing in some root veggies? Syrah’s all over that.

Beaujolais Nouveau

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Characteristics of Beaujolais Nouveau

Young, vibrant, and oh-so-fresh. It’s like the wine version of a spring day, even in the middle of November. It’s fruity, with hints of banana and pear drops. Honestly, it’s just fun in a bottle.

Pairing Beaujolais Nouveau with Thanksgiving Dishes

This wine is practically shouting, “I’m here for Thanksgiving!” It’s light enough for the turkey, playful enough for side dishes, and brings a youthful energy that’ll make even Grandma’s stories seem new.

Alternative Choices for Thanksgiving Wines

When pondering what wine goes with Thanksgiving dinner, don’t be afraid to color outside the lines!

Rosé Wines

Not white, not red, but somewhere fabulous in between. Rosé’s crisp, fruity, and oh-so-versatile. Think of it as the wildcard. Whether you’re having a light salad starter or diving into the main course, Rosé’s got the range.

Sherry Wines

This one’s for the adventurous souls. It’s nutty, it’s rich, and it adds a whole different dimension to your Thanksgiving feast. Especially if you’re looking to elevate your dessert game. Speaking of which…

Pairing Wines with Thanksgiving Desserts

Fortified Wines

Think wines with a bit of an oomph. Port, for instance, with its rich, fruity character, goes brilliantly with chocolatey desserts or blue cheese if you’re into that kind of thing.

Late-Harvest Wines

The sweetness in these wines comes from grapes left on the vine a tad longer. They’ve got a syrupy, fruity essence that’s basically dessert in a glass. Pair them with pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or any pie, really.

FAQ about what wine goes with Thanksgiving dinner

What wine pairs best with a traditional turkey dinner?

Alright, now we’re talkin’! A traditional turkey dinner, with all the fixings, is wonderfully balanced with a medium-bodied red like Pinot Noir. Its light tannins and vibrant acidity match up with the wide array of flavors on the plate.

A nice Gewürztraminer, with its aromatic qualities and hint of sweetness, is also a good choice if you’re more into white wines.

Is white or red wine better for Thanksgiving dinner?

Honestly, it’s a matter of personal preference. Red wine lovers might go for a light to medium-bodied wine, like a Grenache or Pinot Noir. They’re flexible and won’t overwhelm the flavors of your meal.

For white wine enthusiasts, a rich Chardonnay or a slightly off-dry Riesling can do the trick. The key here is versatility – something that complements the variety of dishes on the table.

How should I choose wine for guests with different preferences?

Playing the wine matchmaker, are we? One approach is to offer a selection. A crisp white, a medium-bodied red, and perhaps a rosé or sparkling wine. This way, everyone’s palate is taken into consideration.

Remember, your goal is to enhance the meal and keep your guests happy. So, when in doubt, ask them what they like! Most folks appreciate being included in the wine selection process.

Does the type of stuffing influence the wine choice?

You bet it does! If you’re whipping up a hearty stuffing with sausage or mushrooms, a red like a Syrah or a Zinfandel could be a great partner.

But if you’re going for a lighter, herb-focused stuffing, a Sauvignon Blanc or a Grüner Veltliner might be your ticket. Remember, wine pairing is all about balance and complementing flavors.

Should I consider the cranberry sauce while choosing a wine?

Oh, that tangy cranberry sauce! It’s a Thanksgiving classic, but its sharp flavor can indeed be a bit tricky to pair with wine. But no worries. Off-dry Rieslings and Gewürztraminers with their fruity profiles and touch of sweetness can handle it.

These wines will complement the tartness of the cranberries without overshadowing their unique flavor.

What’s a good dessert wine for Thanksgiving?

Oh, let’s not forget dessert! For the grand finale, a late-harvest Riesling or a Moscato d’Asti can pair beautifully with a traditional pumpkin pie. They are sweet, but not too syrupy, and they bring out the dessert’s warm, spicy flavors.

For something a little richer like pecan pie, a tawny port might be the golden ticket. It’s a rich, sweet, nutty wine that complements the caramelized flavors in the pie.

Can I serve rosé with my Thanksgiving meal?

Absolutely, rosé all day! Rosé is like the Swiss Army knife of wines – it goes well with almost anything. It’s a great choice for Thanksgiving, especially if you’re looking for something between a red and a white.

Its bright acidity and fruit-forward flavors can handle everything from turkey to cranberry sauce.

What’s a good budget-friendly wine for Thanksgiving?

Wine doesn’t need to be expensive to be good, trust me. For reds, you can’t go wrong with a decently priced Pinot Noir or a Spanish Garnacha.

For whites, you can find some wonderful and affordable Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand or Chenin Blancs from South Africa. Remember, the wine is there to complement the meal and contribute to the overall enjoyment, not break the bank.

Can I serve sparkling wine with my Thanksgiving dinner?

Oh, you bet! Sparkling wine is not just for toasts and celebrations. A bottle of bubbly can be an excellent companion to your Thanksgiving meal.

Its high acidity and effervescence make it versatile enough to pair with a variety of dishes. So, if you’re feeling a bit festive, by all means, pop open that Prosecco or Champagne!

Should I decant the wine for Thanksgiving dinner?

You know, decanting can often enhance the wine by allowing it to breathe and showing its best qualities. However, it’s not always necessary, especially for young, lighter reds or whites.

But, if you’ve chosen an older red wine, then decanting could be a good idea to soften the tannins and let the complex flavors bloom. In the end, it depends on the wine, but hey, it can’t hurt!


So, here’s the scoop. The answer to what wine goes with Thanksgiving dinner isn’t set in stone. It’s about exploring, tasting, and finding what tickles your taste buds.

Remember, Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, family, and, of course, delicious food. The wine? It’s the cherry on top. So pop open a bottle, pour yourself a glass, and here’s to making memories!

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