Thanksgiving Wine Pairing & Shopping Guide

Kathleen Hall

Thanksgiving presents a special challenge in wine pairing. 

Think about the typical foods served for Thanksgiving dinner:  salty roasted turkey, savory turkey gravy, tangy cranberry sauce, creamy mashed potatoes, herbal chestnut stuffing, sweet candied yams, rich butternut squash soup, vegetal green beans…. so many contradictory flavors and textures !  Which wine should you choose? 

Well… you will need a wine that is not too high in tannins because that will overwhelm the mild flavors of the turkey.  A wine with medium to high acidity to cut through the fatty and creamy textures.  A wine with an abundance of fruit flavor to complement the sweet side dishes. 

The answer is:  there is no ONE wine !   It’s all a matter of personal preference.  The key is to pick a versatile wine that will harmonize with the many flavors of the meal.

Here are a few wine suggestions that I believe might just do the trick complete with a handy local FC buying guide for easy holiday shopping:


Sparkling wine is the most food-friendly wine pick for Thanksgiving; the high acidity constantly cleanses the palate after eating rich foods while the subtle fruit flavors in the wine counterbalance the fruity flavors in the side dishes.  If you’re having a small gathering, splurge for Champagne (it’s well worth it!).  Should a large gathering be planned, requiring multiple bottles of wine, go with the more economical Prosecco.  

My recommendations:

Marc Hebrart Champagne  $38.99  -  Castle Wine & Spirits, 1439 Post Road East, Westport CT

Le Colture Prosecco di Valdobbiadene $18.99  -  Stewart’s Spirits, 227 Elm Street, New Canaan , CT


Whether choosing a drier Riesling from the Alsace in France or a slightly sweet one from Germany, the bold fruit flavors and crisp acidity pair well with all aspects of Thanksgiving dinner.

My recommendations:

Joseph Cattin Riesling, Alsace, France  $17.99  -  Horseneck Wine & Liquors, 25 East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich

Sybille Kuntz Riesling, Mosel, Germany  $22.99  -  Stamford Wine & Liquors, 583 Newfield Avenue, Stamford


Beaujolais wine is made with the Gamay grape.  Light, juicy, fruity and “fun", Beaujolais pairs well with cranberry sauce and other side dishes.  For a more complex Beaujolais similar to a lighter version of Pinot Noir, go with a single village or “Cru” Beaujolais like Fleurie, Morgon or Moulin-A-Vent.

My recommendation:

Domaine des Grands Fers Fleurie, France  $18.99  -  New Canaan Wine Merchants, 36 Pine Street, New Canaan


Either a red Burgundy from France or Pinot Noir from Oregon will pair well with the earthy flavors in the stuffing.  Red Burgundy tends to be elegant, polished and more mineral; the Oregon Pinot will have brighter fruit while still maintaining a balanced acidity.  Lower tannins and lower alcohol in both wines (vs most California Pinot Noir) won't overpower the delicate flavors of the turkey.  

My recommendations:

Henri Delagrange Volnay, Burgundy, France $45.99  -  Bottles of Westport, 1753 Post Road East, Westport 

Pull Eighty Pinot Noir, Oregon $15.49   -  Grapes of Norwalk, 10 Cross Street, Norwalk


Full-bodied with fruit flavors of jammy raspberry, cocoa, notes of sweet spices and black pepper, Zinfandel pairs well with sweeter side dishes, and tastes great with the darker meat of the turkey and the savory gravy. 

My recommendation:

Chatom Vineyards Zinfandel  $22.00  -  Nicholas Roberts Fine Wines, 1053 Post Road, Darien

Cheers, and Happy Thanksgiving !