Choosing The Best Wine For Your Thanksgiving Dinner

Picture of Joshua Shipley

Joshua Shipley

Senior Event Designer and Beverage Concierge at Together & Company

I think it’s safe to say that most anyone who has been tasked with choosing wine for a Thanksgiving dinner has felt overwhelmed with where to start. What goes best with the turkey – white? What about the sides? And dessert?! The whole process can be a bit daunting. 

In the foreground, three stemmed wine glasses filled with red wine are being held up to clink together in "cheers". In the background, three other hands with wine glasses reach to join the first three.

The good news is Together & Company’s curated wine list provides several options for that perfect bottle for your Thanksgiving dinner, whether you choose to cater or cook at home. In terms of red or white wine, the good news is you don’t have to choose one or the other – you can choose both!

For the turkey:

Most of us are probably familiar with white with light when it comes to wine and food pairings.  While I’m subscribing to that adage with one of my recommendations below, there are two selections from our wine list (a red and a white) to consider pairing with the table’s main attraction:

A white to compliment...

The Quivira Sauvignon Blanc is a fantastic choice for the turkey. Turkey has a naturally creamy texture and the flavors of herbs (specifically thyme) and citrus fruits make this varietal a perfect pairing. The round finish works in tandem with the turkey while the touch of acid and aromatics of sea spray (thanks to the Sonoma Coast AVA) balance out the density of the bird.

... And a red to balance

Some of the more common characteristics of Willamette Valley Vineyards’ Pinot Noir is the jammy aromatics offset with a rich, silky palate. One of the more unique characteristics – and one very specific to the Willamette Valley – is the hint of volcanic rock in the finish. The acid is perfectly balanced by that ashy finish, and both stand up to the naturally gamey qualities of turkey making this wine a match made in culinary heaven for Thanksgiving dinner.

A Thanksgiving turkey sits on a platter in the middle of a table. There are sides all around: green beans, spinach, among others. A couple wine glasses are out of focus in the periphery. Two small brown boxes with brown ribbon are to the left of the turkey.

To accompany the sides:

Here’s where it gets fun. The side dishes at Thanksgiving are my absolute favorite part of the day. Two constants for me and my family are Cranberry Salad and Dressing (I’m from southern Ohio so there is no such thing as stuffing). Whether you’re ordering our Cranberry-Orange Relish or enjoying your grandma’s recipe; having traditional dressing or ordering our Apple Sage Stuffing, the wines featured below will not disappoint.

An above shot of our Traditional Apple-Sage Stuffing in an oval casserole dish. On the left side of the frame is our Roasted and Sliced Turkey Breast with lemon slices as a garnish. At the bottom of the frame is our Green Bean Casserole and Cranberry-Orange Relish in white dishes.
Together & Company's Traditional Apple-Sage Stuffing
A closeup of our Cranberry-Orange Relish in a white bowl with a thyme and orange zest garnish.
Cranberry-Orange Relish from our Thanksgiving menu

A white wine that checks the boxes...

The white wine I suggest for these dishes is a beautiful Chablis, La Chablisienne, Chablis le Finage, from France. Laden with fresh fruit and vegetative qualities in the nose, the citrus pith and lemon zest that come through on the palate is one of the main reasons why this almost savory wine is one to choose. The fresh and clean finish ‘bites back’ a bit making this a perfect yet playful pairing with either stuffing or a cranberry relish. Trust me, you cannot go wrong with pouring this wine.

... And a red wine that's sublime

Gundlach Bundschu’s Mountain Cuvee (a fancy word for ‘vat or tank’) is absolute perfection. When enjoyed with Cranberry Salad, the silky tannins balance out the tart cranberries and citrus while the acid and bramble fruit in this wine lean in and enhance. With stuffing, the toasted oak and cedar notes in this bottle pair perfectly with the herbs, vegetables, and bread.

Dessert: last but not least

I think the most forgotten course to enjoy a glass of wine with is dessert. Most folks in my family enjoy a cup of coffee with their sweet bite after dinner. Of course this works but why not continue the holiday wine journey with a great glass of wine? As Ina Garten would say, “how bad can that be?”

Three stemless wine glasses filled with white wine join together in a "cheers". In the background is an out-of-focus group of people around a table sharing a meal.

Pass the pie–and the Riesling!

Dry Riesling + the Finger Lakes + dessert: three words that belong together. Hermann J. Wiemer’s Dry Riesling, however, takes this partnership to another level. The layers of citrus, flint, and tropical fruits in this structured wine coupled with its lean, vibrant acidity lends itself perfectly to the creamy texture of pumpkin pie (think red wine with a marbled steak). It also works great with the earthy elements of pecan pie, or the warm and tart flavors of apple pie. 

A versatile Cabernet Sauvignon

ViNO Casa Smith Cabernet Sauvignon paired with dessert is one that may make you scratch your head a bit. The common thread with both the Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon is structure. This red wine comes from Washington State and while there is a healthy amount of tannins, there is also great acidic balance. A hint of toasty ash works perfectly with a baked pie crust. Simultaneously, the baking spices and berry flavors within the wine play so well with the warm flavors of pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies.

Three rows of Mini Apple, Pecan, and Pumpkin Bars sit on parchment paper on a cookie rack. Garnish of pecans and pumpkin spice is scattered throughout the parchment. In the background are assorted Mini Bars on a long white plate sitting on a wooden box and some evergreen decoration.

Mini Assorted Apple, Pumpkin, and Pecan Bars on our Thanksgiving menu

The wine's the limit

As you can see, you don’t have to limit yourself when choosing which wines should appear with your Thanksgiving dinner. For anyone who can be indecisive or become overwhelmed with making a perfect choice, having options is very helpful. 

Always remember that in the world of wine, the best wine is the one you love to drink – but I hope you give any of the above a chance to shine. I’m sure you and your guests will leave the table feeling delighted in having had great food, meaningful fellowship, and perfectly paired wine.

Cheers to you and yours for a bright, healthy, and happy holiday season!

Roasted & Sliced Turkey Breast is served on a white platter with wooden handles atop a sage, rosemary, and lemon slice garnish. Turkey Pan Gravy is being poured overtop and a sweet potato dish sits in the background.
A roasted turkey sits atop a bed of vegetables on a platter. In the foreground are two other side dishes: Cranberry-Orange Relish and a root veggie mix in a casserole dish.
Our Green Bean Casserole is in an oval casserole dish. In the background are two other side dishes, out of focus.

Select a Perfectly Paired Thanksgiving Dinner

Did any of the pairings mentioned pique your interest? Make one less decision this year by ordering from Together & Company’s Thanksgiving menu and select from our curated list of wines.

Josh Shipley is a Senior Event Designer and in-house Beverage Concierge for Together & Company. As Beverage Concierge, Josh assists clients in creating the perfect cocktail or choosing the best wine for their occasion. Josh holds a Certification in Wines of California, the Pacific Northwest, and New York from Cornell University, is an Ohio Wine VIP Brand Ambassador, and is an active participant in The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance’s virtual road shows. Connect with Josh by following him on LinkedIn.

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