Thanksgiving Day Sips

Selecting the Perfect Wine for Thanksgiving Day

Discussed by Sommelier LeeAnn Kaufman


Brine or no brine? Roast or deep fry? Mashed or whipped potatoes? Brussels sprouts or green beans? Homemade stuffing or the good stuff in a bag? How many pies to bake? Assigned seats at the table or a free for all? Forget worrying about all of that stuff. It’s time to focus on what’s really important – finding the right wines to go with the big Thanksgiving Day meal.

Every year we find ourselves asking the same question, “What wine should I serve at Thanksgiving dinner?” But just as Thanksgiving comes and goes every year, so too does the never-ending annual barrage of wine pairing advice.

So where do you start? First take a look at what’s being served, and when. Are you doing several courses or will everything be out at once? If you’re going to serve a salad or soup before putting out all of the sides and the turkey, you can pair your wine with those initial dishes. Look for a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling to go with fall salads. I love the Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling from Washington State and the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. The acidity and citrus notes of the wines will pair well with vinaigrettes. You can also always start the meal with a sparkling wine or champagne – they’re extremely food-friendly.

When you get to the main dishes, you want a wine that will find harmony with everything from a robust stuffing to tart cranberries to roasted vegetables and finally to the turkey. My recommendation is to serve a white and red for your guests. When choosing a white wine look for something that’s dry and crisp. A Riesling is again a great choice, as is a spicy Gewurztraminer. Both wines pair well with foods with lots of flavor. When choosing a red to serve, look for something that’s dry, but fruity. Pinot Noir is a classic pairing for the Thanksgiving feast thanks to its savory notes and earthiness. I love the Cherry Pie Pinot Noir from California or the Ken Wright “Meredith’s Vineyard” from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

And don’t forget about dessert! A good rule of thumb is to make sure the dessert wine is sweeter than what you’re gobbling up. Ports and Sherries are wonderful with the varieties of pies you’re likely serving. Ice wines from Canada or the Finger Lakes region in New York are also great options to showcase something new to your guests.

No matter what wine you choose for your Thanksgiving Day sips, remember it’s all about spending time with family and friends and enjoying a lovely meal together.

LeeAnn Kaufman
Wine Director
St. Regis Aspen Resort

Call: (970) 920-3300

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