Pairing wines for the Thanksgiving meal can often be a bit tricky. With so many flavors vying for attention on the table, it’s hard to know which selections are the best bets. Here are ten Texas wines, starting with lighter, versatile offerings that cater to a variety of palates, then moving on to more robust selections ideal for those who prefer their holiday turkey smoked rather than roasted.
For those looking for a fresh and fruity white wine with lush floral character, this Malvasia Bianca is a treat. Believed to be of Greek origin, the malvasia grape is most commonly found in warm-climate regions including Madeira, Portugal (where it’s most commonly known as Malmsey), Spain, and Italy, which means it should be no surprise that it does well in Texas. This wine is made with no sulfites or other additives, and may appear a bit cloudy in the glass in its unfiltered state, but its freshness and brightness of flavor make it an excellent conversation wine to enjoy at the table. (To purchase, call or email the winery.)
A standard-bearer for Texas wine, Llano Estacado Winery offers both a red and white selection under the 1836 label, a tribute to the year in which Texas established its independence from Mexico after the Battle of San Jacinto. This white Rhône blend includes viognier, roussanne, and marsanne, and delivers beautiful aromas of fleshy lemon, tropical fruit, and orange peel along with a balanced palate rich in texture from malolactic fermentation and a few months on the lees. An easy pairing for roasted turkey and dressing.
This French Rhône variety is often married with roussanne and grenache blanc for Rhône white wines, but a handful of Texas wineries have found success in letting it stand on its own. With notes of green pear, yellow apple, and lemon pulp, this wine is an excellent alternative to chardonnay, with a nervy palate balanced with medium weight and body.
For a white wine with a bit more body, this roussanne is a standout and another solid alternative to chardonnay. To maintain the natural fruitiness of the wine, 35 percent of the grapes from this harvest were fermented in concrete eggs, while the remainder was barrel fermented and aged in barrel for six months with regular lees stirring to develop its silky texture. With characteristic lemony undertones, this wine also delivers aromas of ripe pear and baked apple, buttered toast, and yellow daffodil.
Rosé is arguably the best Thanksgiving pairing, as it manages to satisfy many taste preferences for those around the table. As rosé wines can offer a range of styles within the category, the best selection for the holiday should have brightness and vibrance to refresh the palate throughout the meal, but also body and roundness to stand up to the breadth of flavors served. The Lost Draw Counoise Rosé strikes just the right balance. Pronounced coon-woz, this southern French red grape variety isn’t widely planted in Texas, but it has found a happy home in the sandy loam and caliche soils of Farmhouse Vineyards in the High Plains.
Though its playful name and label may suggest otherwise, this wine is unequivocally serious and finessed. Made from 100 percent mourvèdre, a southern French variety, the Pa Pa Frenchy offers aromas of tart red cherry, juicy pomegranate, and savory dried herbs and delivers a friendly, easy-drinking palate with a pleasurably smooth finish. To purchase, sign up for the winery’s newsletter.
The quintessential Turkey Day wine, this Hill Country mourvèdre from the Klein Vineyard near Henly leads with tart cherry and cranberry notes framed with smoky, earthy mushroom and baking spice. Light and juicy, this wine offers undertones of smoked meats and savory tomato on the palate. A perfect pairing for the holiday.
Not all cabernet sauvignon has to come in a brawny, knock-you-over-the-head style. In fact, this offering from Southhold Farm + Cellar reveals a lighter, fresher approach to the often aggressive grape. You’ll find all the elements you expect from the varietal in this bottling from cassis and tobacco to blackberry and eucalyptus, only with a lighter, juicier, and Thanksgiving-friendly structure.
Bring a bit of the Old World to your table with an earthy grenache from Becker Vineyards. While this peppery Southern Rhône grape often struggles to get deep concentration in Texas, it manages to thrive in the Hill Country outpost of Mason County in the Tallent Vineyards. Though rich with stewy figs and plums, this wine offers a ripe character on the finish along with a peppery note that begs for a helping of smoked turkey with gravy.
For those who crave a rich, concentrated wine, as many good Texans do, this Fall Creek Petit Verdot will certainly suffice. Typically used as a blending grape in Bordeaux for its deep color and robust structure, petit verdot is rarely seen on its own but can deliver beautiful floral aromatics along with deep black fruit and pipe tobacco, as this wine does. The palate is full and structured but finishes smooth.