Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so let’s talk wine. No Thanksgiving menu is complete without plenty of vino, but with the wide-ranging feast of flavors gracing customers’ holiday tables, knowing what bottle to recommend can get confusing fast. Let’s explore some of our favorite Turkey Day pairings that will help ensure your customers’ holiday meals are all a huge, delicious success.
Begin with Bubbles
Bubbles are without a doubt one of the best ways to kick off a Thanksgiving celebration. Whether it’s Prosecco, Cava, Crémant, or American sparkling wine, you’re basically guaranteed a beautiful apéritif that will pair well with a huge range of pre-dinner apps and snacks. The high acidity and subtle fruity notes make for an oh-so-refreshing contrast to charcuterie, cheeses, veggie appetizers, or even chips and dip for those keeping it casual. Just remember to tell your customers to look for Brut or Brut Nature on the label; bubbles that are dry or semi-dry will be on the sweeter end of the spectrum and aren’t as universally food-friendly.
Go With Anything Grapes
When a customer’s dinner menu is elaborate, there’s no shame encouraging them to keep the wine options simple and straightforward. And believe it or not, there are a few go-to grapes that pair well with just about anything.
For white wine lovers, Riesling is an excellent recommendation because it’s crisp, refreshing, and easy to drink. Its bright acidity and lower alcohol content make it a fabulous palate cleanser, and its apple and citrus notes invoke fall vibes without overpowering turkey’s milder flavors.
But don’t be fooled, Riesling has the necessary body and texture to stand up to savory sauces or enhance sweeter dishes such as sweet potatoes or pecan pie. Really, you can’t go wrong with Riesling as a part of your Thanksgiving Day spread. Here again, you want to look for dry or off-dry versions. Rieslings from Germany Austria, and France generally fit the bill, and US versions are usually labelled accordingly.
If you are looking for something to appease both red and white wine lovers, look no further than rosé. Not just for summer pool parties, rosé is exceedingly food-friendly and plays nicely with the range of salty/savory/sweet flavors that grace the Thanksgiving table. Its bright acidity can match acid-driven dishes, while being equally refreshing against rich, creamy fare. Savory, spice-driven dishes also contrast rose’s juicy red fruit flavors effortlessly. Just remember, rosé can vary significantly depending on where and how it’s made, so a good rule of thumb is that lighter and paler = fruity and citrusy; darker shades = more full-bodied and sweeter.
As far as reds go, the classic Thanksgiving option to recommend to customers is Pinot Noir, and for good reason. It’s light enough that it won’t overpower a given dish, yet its bright, fresh fruits and earthy undertones complement many savory flavors with ease. You really can’t go wrong with a good Pinot, but if your customers want to switch it up a bit, point them towards Beaujolais. This fun, fruity red is equally food-friendly thanks to its modest body and tannins. Plus, it’s an easy-to-drink, affordable option that won’t weigh down your customers or their wallets.
Other Options to Consider
If you do come across a customer looking to get a little fancy with their Turkey Day drinks, here are a few interesting but accessible wines to point them towards:
Viognier: Floral and fruity, with essences of honeysuckle, peach, and apricot, Viognier pairs especially well with stuffing.
Chenin Blanc: Honey and green apple flavors offset a spicy yet slightly sweet finish, making Chenin Blanc an excellent option for salads and other veggie-forward dishes.
Sancerre: Lean and herbaceous, whites from Sancerre are ideal for dishes that feature Brussels sprouts, asparagus, or green beans.
Grenache: A mixed berry profile and hints of allspice and cinnamon makes Grenache a great choice to contrast herbaceous, spiced root veggies.
Sangiovese: Cherry and vanilla flavors blend with Sangiovese’s lively acidity to smoothly cut through rich gravies and meaty mains.
Barbera: Black and blue fruit notes give Barbera a juicy lushness, while its moderate body and tannins make it easy to drink and well matched to most dishes.
Some Final Thoughts
When it comes down to it, the key to recommending a great Thanksgiving wine is to set aside lofty pairing notions and point customers towards varietals that offer vibrant acidity, moderate tannins and body, some fruity elements (particularly for reds), and–most importantly–lower ABV. Thanksgiving feasts are more of a marathon than a sprint, and no one wants their guests (or the host, for that matter) too tipsy to enjoy all that incredible food. Offering your customers a few easy-to-drink options that work well across food groups and flavor profiles will keep the good times flowing. Cheers to a wonderful holiday with delicious food, fabulous wine, and good times with friends and family.