What Wine Goes with Turkey? Here Are 11 to Try This Thanksgiving
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It’s Thanksgiving. Whether you’re eating, cooking or dodging invasive questions from your extended family, you’re going to need something to drink. And while choosing a bottle (or three or four) for the occasion can be daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Let’s start with the main event: the bird. If you’re wondering what wine goes with turkey, we have eleven quaffable options (white and red, because this versatile bird can pair well with both).
We consulted with wine experts (more on that at the bottom of this story) to make sure our picks check all the boxes: They’re acidic, not too high in alcohol…and will please everyone from your great aunt to your cousin who just turned 21.
Wine Pairing Tips Before You Buy:
Wine pairing can be tricky, and at the end of the day, it all comes down to your own personal taste preferences. But there are a few things to keep in mind that can make your shopping experience easier:
- How is the turkey being prepared? While it’s usually safe to assume the bird is being roasted, there’s always that one person who’s smoking their turkey (or deep frying it in the garage). All our picks would pair deliciously with a classic baked bird, and we’ve noted if it’s a good choice for those alternative cooking methods.
- Who is hosting? If you’re throwing the party, you make the rules. If you’re a guest, it’s worth asking the host if they have a wine preference—they might already have a bottle in mind.
- What’s your budget? You don’t have to spend a bajillion dollars on wine—the price doesn’t always reflect the quality. (FWIW, we try to spend no more than $25 to $30 per bottle.)
- When in doubt, go acidic: Regardless of how the turkey is prepared (or what else is on the table), a lively, refreshing wine will go far to enhance the occasion and keep everyone perky through a marathon of heavy foods. Lean toward dry wines over sweet, which are better saved for dessert.
1. Sauvignon Blanc
C’mon, you knew our good friend sauvy B would make the guest list. Aside from being a crowd-pleaser (which definitely counts for something), this French white is super crisp and acidic, but with just enough body to stand up to a gorgeously burnished turkey.
Try: Clos Henri Petit Clos Sauvignon Blanc 2020
If you’re not a fan of that whole “buttery” and “oaked” Chardonnay thing, give Chablis a whirl. Once written off as a grocery store dud, the right bottle of this light- to medium-bodied, bone-dry white is pretty much the opposite: It’s zesty and mineral, with notes of limestone, citrus and green apple to balance the richness of turkey.
Try: Domaine des Genèves 2020 Chablis
Do the Spanish celebrate Thanksgiving? No…but they have an incredible wine for it. Floral, fruity, salty and a little spicy, albariño is practically made to pair with turkey (not to mention all those autumnal veggies and herbs). It’s another crisp, mouthwateringly acidic choice that will have everyone reaching for seconds.
Try: Fefinanes 2021 Albariño
4. Dry Riesling
You’re going to need something to cut through all that gravy, and a mouth-puckering dry Riesling will do. The key? Look for the word “Trocken” (which means “dry”) on the label. What to expect? Aromas of Honeycrisp apple and pear, and flavors like lemonade and lime. Yum.
Try: Forge Cellars Classique Dry Riesling
5. Pinot Noir
Light but warm is the best way to describe this red wine, so you can bet it’s a Thanksgiving no-brainer. Red fruit notes, like cranberry, complement both the turkey and the jiggling jewel of cranberry “sauce” sitting at the table. Serve it with a slight chill and the crowd will go wild.
Try: Meinklang Pinot Noir
With its light body, low tannins and medium acidity, Beaujolais (a type of gamay wine) will prove to your pickiest guests that yes, you can pair a bottle of red with poultry. Skip the Nouveau varieties for something with a bit more heft, like a Beaujolais-Villages. The herby, tart fruit flavors will make your entire feast come to life.
Try: Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages
7. Côtes du Rhone
Rather than a single grape, red Côtes du Rhone is usually a blend of a few types grown in a specific region in France. It has soft tannins and subtle spiciness that’s both easy to like and easy to pair with food, and a medium body that will please even that one uncle who claims to only enjoy “big” wines. Smoked turkey on the menu? Look no further.
Try: Chateau de Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhone Les Deux Albions 2019
8. Red Blend
Red blends tend to be less pricy than single-varietal vinos, so they're a solid choice for any hostess who's going to be buying multiple bottles for the holidays. They're also typically easy to drink, thanks to their lower acidity, fruit-forward flavor and modest tannins. (That also means they won't overpower the subtle deliciousness of the turkey.)
Try: Van Ardi Red Blend
Sparkling Wines and Other Pairing Options
Lambrusco can get a bad rap for being sweet, but this sparkling red wine is traditionally very dry. It’s usually light- to medium-bodied with plenty of acidity, making it a surprisingly fitting pairing for Thanksgiving turkey. It doesn’t hurt that the bubbles feel celebratory, either.
Try: Monte Delle Vigne Lambrusco Emilia I.G.P.
10. Sparkling White Wine
Bubbles go with everything—and it’s a party, isn’t it? We’re not kidding: The carbonation cuts through rich, fatty foods and cleanses your palate, so it really does pair with most foods. Plus, if you choose a label that says “Brut,” “Extra Brut” or “Brut Nature,” you’ll end up with a wine that’s pleasantly dry and acidic. (And if you have Champagne taste on a boxed wine budget, go for a budget-friendly cava instead.) This would be a particularly fitting choice if the turkey is being deep-fried.
Try: Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs 2018
11. Orange Wine
Orange wine is a catchall description for white wines made in the style of red wines—that is, the juice is fermented with the skins for a brief period before being removed. This gives them more body and tannins than a white wine, which can be an interesting addition to your Turkey Day spread.
Try: Field Recordings Skins
Meet the Experts:
We consulted the following expert sources:
Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City restaurants. She used to sling sugary desserts in a pastry kitchen, but now she’s an avid home cook and fanatic baker.