A Thanksgiving feast of roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and brown gravy is notoriously difficult to pair with wine. With so many components on the table, it’s tempting to just open a few nondescript, light-bodied reds and call it a day.
Not so fast, sommeliers say. We asked 11 wine professionals what bottles they’ll be bringing to their Thanksgiving celebrations this year, and their answers include biodynamic red blends, rosé Champagne, crisp Chenin Blanc, and much more. These recommendations have you covered, from the first plate of turkey to the last slice of pumpkin pie.
“Thanksgiving is about family, friends, and eating your own weight in food. I like to drink lighter whites with racy acidity and lighter reds with low tannin; heavier wines would just add to the catatonic state one eats oneself into. As an added benefit, crisp whites make you hungry, and low-tannin reds work really well with turkey. This year I’m going to bring a bottle of: Huet Vouvray Sec Le Mont 2017 – crisp, dry, stone-fruity Chenin Blanc from the Loire with appetite-opening acidity; and Clos de la Roillette Fleurie 2017 from Beaujolais — light, dry with equal parts earth and fruit.” — John Slover, Corporate Beverage Director, Major Food Group, New York, N.Y.
“For Thanksgiving, I love to bring rosé made from Garnacha or Pinot Noir, or white wines, like dry Chenin Blancs and Grüner Vetliners. I like these wines because they are super food-friendly. Rosé is ‘big’ enough to stand up to the weight of a heavy Thanksgiving meal without leaving you tired and sleepy. As for the whites, I usually go in the direction of bright and minerally, because most of the food is rich and fatty, so you want something to cut through all of those flavors and refresh you.” — Derrick Westbrook, Sommelier, Chicago, Ill.
“The Viña Gravonia Crianza from R. Lopez de Heredia. The wine is 100 percent Viura aged four years in barrel… It pairs wonderfully with white meats like the turkey my brother-in-law makes every Thanksgiving. But it also pairs well with the sausage you might use in a stuffing. If you decide to have it before the meal, it has delicious nutty notes that go well with hard cheeses. I always like to have a second bottle with me since everyone at the table won’t have the same taste. In this case, I would take a red wine, the Heinrich Blaufränkisch, a light-bodied wine with red berry flavors that doesn’t overpower the food at the table.” — Swati Bose, Sommelier and Owner, Flight Wine Bar, Washington D.C.
“Champagne! It goes with literally everything. With Thanksgiving, it can be hard to match the variety of flavors and textures. Sparkling wine is perfect… The bubbles help break up rich foods and tough-to-pair items like soups and sauces. My favorite bottle right now is Mousse Fils, Special Club, Rosé de Saignée Champagne.” — Victoria James, Beverage Director, Cote, New York, N.Y.
“This year I’m going to be bringing a Marcus Huber Sparkling Rosé. It’s a blend of Zweigelt and Pinot Noir grapes from Traisental, Austria. Besides being bubbly, it has tons of fruit to it, which will help it stand up to the melange of flavors going on at the table. It’s absolutely crushable. I might need to bring two or three bottles.” — Gregory Stokes, Sommelier, Veritas, Columbus, Ohio
“I’ll pop through with some Rosemont Sparkling Chardonel from southern Virginia… Fresh, bright bubbles keep the night moving. Plus it’s made from a hybrid, and for some reason I’m into that.” — Sebastian Zutant, Co-Owner and Beverage Director, Primrose, Washington D.C.
“No question. Silice Viticultores 2015. First, this organic and biodynamic blend of 80 percent Mencia, Merenzao, Albarello, Garnacha, and some white grapes pairs deliciously with all the flavors of Thanksgiving dinner. Hello, turkey, cranberry sauce, rosemary, stuffing, thyme, and sweet potatoes. Secondly, when I first tasted this wine, and every time thereafter, it evokes an intense emotional response.” — Regine Rousseau, Sommelier, Author, and CEO, Shall We Wine, Chicago, Ill.
“I will be bringing two very special bottles of wine to Thanksgiving. The first is a Chianti for my Italian family to drink, and one that is a bit more refined for me. The second bottle will probably be a Nebbiolo or an Aglianico, something bold to tackle the meat and hearty fare of the feast.” — Dan Amatuzzi, Beverage Director, Eataly USA
“I love drinking American wines on Thanksgiving… We will kick off the evening with Empire Estate Dry Riesling, which I have been drinking a lot of lately. I love the bracing acidity and electric lime and green apple flavors. It is a perfect palate primer. For me, Thanksgiving dinner belongs with bright reds with flavors that are reminiscent of cranberries. I love Domaine de la Côte wines, which are elegant and bright. I also like great Oregon Pinot Noir for Thanksgiving. For dessert I go to nuttier styles of dessert wines. This year I am serving Merryvale ‘Antigua,’ which is a pretty awesome pairing with pumpkin pie.” — Emily Wines, Master Sommelier and VP, Beverage Experience, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, Nationwide
“Champagne is always my go-to. A solid bottle of bubbly is the perfect beginning (and ending) to an evening and is a very versatile wine to pair food with. For Thanksgiving, I will be reaching for a bottle of Rosé Champagne, such as Paul Bara Grand Rosé!” — Jack Mason, Master Sommelier at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Houston, Texas
“As an Italian immigrant who grew up never celebrating it before, I find myself embracing this holiday as one of my favorites. My in-laws are big on cooking the traditional American heritage Thanksgiving dinner, so my contribution is to bring to the table a little bit of my wine heritage. This year, I will be opening a bottle of 2007 Taurasi (100 percent Aglianico) from Feudi di San Gregorio, from the vineyards of Piano di Montevergine in Campania, Italy. It reminds me of my homeland.” — Ferdinando Mucerino, Sommelier, Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica, Calif.