A Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Guide: The Best Foods to Go With Wine

There are many great foods to pair with wine during the Thanksgiving season. Check out this Thanksgiving wine pairing guide to learn more.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to spend with family and eat a lot of delicious food. Nothing pairs better with relatives and food than a good bottle (or four) of wine. But this Thanksgiving, maybe you want to step things up and bring a proper Thanksgiving wine pairing.

Wine pairing is a wonderful way to make every bite of your meal more delicious and sophisticated. Knowing where to start can seem intimidating if you aren’t a wine drinker, but it doesn’t have to be. Read on to discover some great Thanksgiving feast wine pairings.

The Basics of Wine Pairing

In wine pairing, you generally want to go one direction or the other: matching the flavors of the food or balancing against them. When you’re pairing wines for Thanksgiving, you want to have accessible, medium-bodied wines. That way all your guests can enjoy them and they can stand up to the sensory onslaught that is a Thanksgiving feast.

One great way to approach Thanksgiving wine pairing is to give everyone at least two wine glasses and put three or four bottles of different varieties on the table. This lets people pick and choose what they want to drink and swap out as they eat different dishes. Whichever bottle gets finished first is a good option to bring for next year.

Turkey and Tiny Bubbles

When you’re pairing wine with a turkey, you want to take a look at how you’re cooking it. Are you using a lot of seasonings, will you be deep-frying it, or will you be roasting it traditional style? Then you have to find a wine that will pair well with both the dark and light meat. 

Thanksgiving is first and foremost a celebration, and what’s better to celebrate with than tiny bubbles? Made from a blend of Chardonel and Vidal Blanc, Hillside Winery’s Sonata is a the perfect celebratory wine.  It’s festive, acidic, and not-too-sweet, making it a wonderful companion for a decadent turkey feast — and after dinner as well!  

Stuffing and Riesling

With a dish like stuffing or dressing, you’ve got a lot of complex flavors going on. Herbs, bread, vegetables, and maybe grease from the turkey. So you want a nice light wine that will cut through those flavors and cleanse your palate between bites so you can enjoy the stuffing anew with each forkful.

Riesling is the perfect wine to provide this balance. Its acidity will pair well against the complexity of the dressing, and a clean finish will prepare you for the next bite. Mountain Valley Winery has a medium-sweet German-style wine similar to a Riesling that is the perfect choice for this pairing.

Sweet Potatoes and Zinfandel

Sweet potatoes have a lovely earthy sweetness that puts us instantly in the Thanksgiving spirit. When they’re topped with chopped pecans and brown sugar, they make a fabulous casserole with a deep sweetness. You need a wine that will keep the sweetness going without overpowering the sweet potatoes.

Jammy Zinfandels are the perfect pairing to go with sweet potatoes. Hillside Winery’s Zinfandel brings notes of figs and prunes to the table, along with a heavy tannin finish. The rich sweetness of these dark fruits will make your sweet potato casserole seem even more decadent this year.

Cranberry and Merlot

Cranberries are an underappreciated part of a Thanksgiving spread. Their tart acidity can do for the rest of the meal what a good wine pairing can do for each dish – cut through the heavy flavors and refresh your palate. So this dish deserves just as wonderful a wine pairing.

Raspberry and cherry flavors in Merlot round out the red berry trifecta in this pairing. The Apple Barn Winery has a Merlot aged in American Oak that will complement your cranberries perfectly. You could also go for Mountain Valley Winery’s Mountain Berry wine.

Fruit Pies and White Wines

With fruit pies, you already have a lot of rich, jammy flavors happening. You need something light to cut through the heaviness of the pie and bring out the crisper, sweeter notes of the fruit. A good blanc is a perfect option for doing this, with its fruit-forward crisp taste.

The Apple Barn Winery’s Apple Barn White is a sweet and delicious white wine. Or if you want something a little different, check out Mill Bridge Winery’s Little Pigeon, a lovely muscadine wine that’s a true Southern tradition.

Overall Pairings

If you aren’t wanting to pair a wine with everything on the table, there are some good overall pairings you can go for. Pinot Noir is a good option since it’s lighter than a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot and pairs well with almost everything on the table. 

If white wines are more your style, you want something that has enough body to stand up to the weight of a full Thanksgiving feast. A Chardonnay like the one from Mountain Valley Winery will offer a lovely complexity to balance the meal. You can also go with Mountain Valley’s White or another Riesling-style wine.

Pick Your Best Thanksgiving Wine Pairing

Picking a Thanksgiving wine pairing is about catering to a variety of flavors and preferences. You want to go for something that’s full-bodied enough to stand up to your feast without overwhelming. Try some of the pairings we’ve suggested here, or get bold and try something different – just have fun with it!

If you’d like to experience some of Tennessee’s finest wines, check out the rest of our website at the Rocky Top Wine Trail. We are Tennessee’s first and most visited wine trail, featuring five wineries throughout Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. Check out our VIP experience and explore the Rocky Top Wine Trail today!

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