Thanksgiving Dinner
You can serve more than one wine with Thanksgiving dinner. Different wines complement different dishes, from the sweet potatoes to the cranberry sauce. Photo by Liza McCorkle | IST.




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November 2007

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Wine

Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

Gobble Up These Ideas


CAPSULE REPORT: One of the most frequent requests we get is for Thanksgiving wine recommendations. Here are some tips from National Wine Director Marian Jansen op de Haar and Executive chef Russell Skall from Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. We also asked THE NIBBLE’s wine editor, Kris Prasad, to weigh in. Also see Kris’s article on Thanksgiving Wines.


There is no one “wine to have with Thanksgiving dinner.” Each course lends itself to different opportunities, depending on your tastes. But if you’re only planning to have one white and one red, go for a lighter, fruity style such as a Pinot Grigio or a Pinot Noir. They will work with both the turkey and the traditional Thanksgiving accompaniments. 

Side Dishes

You don’t have to stick to the same wine through the entire meal. People who truly enjoy wine like pairing different wines with each dish, comparing and contrasting the flavors. So, just add another wine glass to each place setting and pour a second wine.

What does well with sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce? Try a fruity white wine with a little sweetness like Riesling or Beaujolais. For a white wine, look for Zilliken “Butterfly” Riesling, a medium-dry bottling from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer area of Germany. It pairs Riesling and soft aromas with Saar Valley minerality plus peach and lime notes. A light red like a Beaujolais such as a Juliénas from George Duboeuf will complement the sweeter flavors of the side dishes.  Juliénas, one of the 10 Beaujolais crus, is in the far north of the region; wines have a strawberry jam nose and palate and should be drunk within two or three years of the vintage.

Cranberry Sauce
Photo by Maria Bacarella | IST.


If  you’re cramped for space, you don’t need to set out the glasses for the dessert wine until the table is cleared from the main meal. For some wine lovers, the dessert wine is even more exciting than the dessert. For them, golden and ruby liquid jewels can be the pièce de resistance of the meal. And when you have no more room because you’re more stuffed than the turkey, a glass of dessert wine is a pleasure instead of dessert—ask for your piece of pie “to go.”

  • Pumpkin PiePumpkin Pie. Try a dessert wine such as such as late harvest Gewürtztraminer, Muscat or Riesling.  Their spicy and golden notes complement the pie. Pumpkin pie photo by Mike Johnson | SXC.
  • Pecan Pie. THE NIBBLE’s wine editor, Kris Prasad, recommends an old sweet Oloroso Sherry or a Malmsey Madeira—both nutty in aroma. Sciacchetra, a rare wine from northern Italy near Genoa, also works.
  • Chocolate. Port is classic with chocolate desserts. Look for Fonseca Reserve Porto Bin 27 NV or Cockburn’s 10 year old Tawny; if you’re in the chips, your guests will appreciate or an old Vintage Port.  Savvy cooks like to use the Port in the dessert recipe—for example, to flavor the chocolate or as a base for a sauce—and then serve a glass with the final creation, to bring all of the spectacular flavors together. If you don’t like Port, Kris Prasad, recommends a Late Harvest Zinfandel, Lustau Muscat Sherry “Emlin” or a Recioto Amarone.


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