With Thanksgiving looming, there’s enough stress in the idea of braving the increasingly crowded grocery store without having to worry about which wines to pair with your Turkey Day menu. We’ve created a quick cheat sheet for which wines will go best with any feast, no matter how varied the flavors.
First, a few things to keep in mind:
- From candied yams and smoked turkey to grandma’s green bean casserole and citrus-pecan cranberry dressing, the chances of your palate playing a game of ping pong with every bite is pretty high, so select a find a wine that doesn’t compete, but plays nicely with everyone at the table.
- If you love big red wines—and there’s a good chance any Texan reading this does as we’re the number-one market for opulent Napa Cabernet Sauvignon after California—that selection has heft meant for a nice, juicy steak, not the Thanksgiving table. Save these for your holiday prime rib a few weeks from now.
- Keep it simple with wines that are low in tannin, moderate alcohol, medium body, and vibrant with great acidity to help lift the feast from palate and move things along. It’s hard to go wrong with a Pinot Noir, a grape that generally embodies all of these qualities, regardless of whether it’s a fruit-forward little number from Sonoma, or an earthy splurge from Burgundy, France; an off-dry German Riesling; or French Beaujolais made from the Gamay grape (not to be confused with Beaujolais Nouveau, the cheaper, banana/grape-gum-flavored kid sister usually released this time of year).
But in this case, we’re talking Texas wines. When it comes to our favorite red varieties, you’re best served to seek out wines made from Southern French varieties, like Mourvèdre and Cinsault, which both tend to have medium body and softer tannins. If you prefer whites, we recommend something crisp, fruity, and dry, like Viognier or a smart blend.
Those looking for an alternative to Chardonnay should give Viognier a chance. While some can be a bit rich and cloying, this particular wine is an example of just how great it can be. Rich aromas of honeysuckle, ripe peach and vanilla intermingle with a bright, minerally finish for a refreshing white wine that plays well with herb-roasted turkey and dressing.
A pretty name for a pretty little wine, this is luscious white blend takes all the best qualities of grapes known for their floral aromatics characteristics including Orange Muscat, Blanc du Bois and Muscat Blanc. Notes of jasmine and honeysuckle dance around with ripe peach straight into the glass with a touch lime leaf. It’s a perfect aperitif to spark the appetite or for that family member who likes a hint of sweetness with their wine.
A grape widely planted throughout Southern France, Cinsault is particularly well-suited for Texas soils. Similar to Pinot Noir with its medium body, this wine offers hints of blackberry, sage and black pepper on the nose and a lingering finish of plum and baking spices making it a perfect fit for roasted vegetables and smoked turkey.
Perhaps the great equalizer for all wine enthusiasts, just about any dry rosé works well with most of the dishes on the Thanksgiving table. A refreshing blend of Mourvèdre, Chardonnay and Muscat of Alexandria, this wine offers the perfect balance for both white and red wine drinkers with crisp, vibrant acidity and silky red fruit characters of strawberry and watermelon and a supple finish.
Offering a little more heft than the Lost Draw Cinsault, the McPherson Cellars Les Copains Red is a blend of French Rhône varietals including Cinsault along with Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Grenache for a lovely red wine balanced with ripe red cherry and wild strawberry framed by savory herbs and a hint of smokiness. This wine is perfect for anything roasted or smoked turkey and makes a perfect complement to cranberry relish and parsnip purée.