Thanksgiving Wines, Mouse Wine Defect, Trends to Ignore



For those of us in Canada, Thanksgiving is this weekend. In my opinion, there is no other holiday that celebrates the gift of wine like Thanksgiving. Wine is a taste of the harvest, along with all the delicious dishes on the table. But actually choosing a bottle can feel like a thankless task, especially with so many flavours to match. Do you celebrate Thanksgiving, perhaps in November if you’re American?

On today’s episode of Unreserved Wine Talk,  I’ll be chatting with you about how to pair wine with Thanksgiving turkey and all the side dishes, as well as the new defect in wine called mouse, and which wine trends you should definitely ignore. Enjoy!



  • How does the wine defect “mouse” affect wine?
  • What does mouse taste like?
  • How serious of a wine defect is mouse?
  • What conditions contribute to the development of mouse?
  • How does some natural wine advocates’ approach to “spoilage factors” differ?
  • How does the surge in popularity of natural wine tie in with the occurrences of mouse?
  • Does climate change impact the occurrence of mouse?
  • What do some winemakers attribute to the presence of the mouse defect?
  • What does one winemaker suggest as an alternative solution in place of sulphur?
  • Which wines would I pair with Canadian and American Thanksgiving dinner this year?
  • Why does acidity in wine make it pair better with food?
  • Why do I believe Thanksgiving is the most wine-friendly holiday?
  • What are my top tips for pairing wine with Thanksgiving turkey and side dishes?
  • Which wines pair the best with turkey?
  • Which types of wine should you avoid pairing with turkey?
  • What are some complementary and contrasting pairings for Thanksgiving side dishes?
  • How can you pair wine with Thanksgiving desserts?
  • Can you pair a fortified wine or sherry with Thanksgiving dinner?
  • What are some natural and orange wine trends you should ignore?
  • Why do I think sulphur is misunderstood?
  • What do I think about CBD wines?




My five quick tips for choosing a terrific Thanksgiving wine

  1. Start with bubbly.
    Sparkling wine is a great aperitif to sip while you wait for the turkey to finish cooking. It adds a celebratory note to the meal and goes well with starters like soup and salad.
  2. Consider the turkey.
    Unlike most poultry and game birds, turkey meat is very dry in texture. So you need a mouth-watering wine to complement it. Good options are crisp whites like Riesling and Pinot Grigio. And yes, you can drink red wine with white meat: Pinot Noir, Beaujolais and Zinfandel all have juicy, berry-ripe flavors that go well with turkey.
  3. Look beyond the bird.
    The range of side dishes means that you don’t have to match your wine just to the turkey. Since Thanksgiving dinner is often a banquet-style meal, with everyone choosing the trimmings, why not do the same with your wines? Offer both red and white, and possibly more than one depending on the size of your group.
  4. Complement or contrast.
    A big, buttery Chardonnay from California or Chile can complement the roasted, smoky flavours of squash, chestnuts and pecan stuffing. But if you would rather have a contrast to the richness of cream sauces and dressings, try a crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
  5. End on a sweet note.
    If anyone still has room left when it’s time for pumpkin or pecan pie, offer a late harvest wine or Icewine. If you’re a chocolate fan, try serving a liqueur with complementary flavours such as raspberry or blackcurrant.


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Transcript & Takeaways

Welcome to episode 45!

For those of us in Canada, Thanksgiving is this weekend… how did that happen so quickly? I’m picking my Mom up at the airport tomorrow… she’s coming in from Nova Scotia. My son Rian is already home with us from Waterloo where he’s studying engineering because he’s on a work-term with a software company here, and also rent is free at home.

My partner Miles is most fortunately is an excellent cook so he’ll be cooking the turkey and sides… if it were up to me, we’d be having Thanksgiving pizza. So my job, as always, will be pulling corks. His family will also be joining us.

I love Thanksgiving I think even more than Christmas as a family holiday… perhaps because there’s less pressure but it’s still all about sharing great food and wine around the table.

What about you… do you celebrate Thanksgiving, perhaps in November if you’re American, but perhaps it’s not a holiday for you? If you do celebrate it, let me know how you celebrate… do you serve some special wines? Are there other things you do to make it special?

Coincidentally, I’m updating the bonus module in my course right now on pairing turkey dinner with wine, whether that’s for Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hanukkah. I’ve got so many juicy, delicious wines for you to try with not just the big bird itself, but also all the side dishes.

As I mentioned, I’m relaunching the course at the end of this month. I’ve always called it Get Wine Smart, but I’m tweaking the title to become The Wine-Smart Course so that people know it’s actually an online course… Get Wine Smart alone I think is a little vague.

I’m also playing with two different subtitles to help define what the course covers as it’s very comprehensive. I’d love your opinion on whether you prefer the first or second of the following two subtitles:

A Full-Bodied Framework to Taste, Pair & Buy Wine Like a Pro


A Full-Bodied Framework to Taste, Pair & Buy Wine Like a Pro

I know just one-word changes, but I think it makes a big difference. So do you vote for a full-bodied framework or a flavour-packed framework? Let me know by email or social media.

So on to our juicy wine topics that I’ll be chatting with you about in today’s Unreserved Wine Talk podcast:

  • How do you pair wine with Thanksgiving turkey and all the side dishes, especially with so many different flavours?
  • What is the new defect in wine called mouse, and what does it smell like?
  • Which wine trends should you definitely ignore?

I’ll include links to my pairing tips, the wines I recommend for Thanksgiving and the article on the mouse defect in the show notes at

Alright, let’s dive into our topics today.


You can also watch the video on Thanksgiving Wines, Mouse Wine Defect, Trends to Ignore that includes bonus content and behind-the-scenes questions and answers that weren’t included in this podcast.


Well, there you have it! You’ll find links to great wines in stores now that pair well with Thanksgiving turkey and all those side dishes, as well as the article on the mouse defect in the show notes at

What was your favourite tip or quote from this episode? Share that with me on Twitter or Facebook and tag me @nataliemaclean, on Instagram I’m @nataliemacleanwine.

If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s interested in pairing wine with turkey dinner. My podcast is easy to find, whether you search Google on its name Unreserved Wine Talk, or on my name.

Finally, if you want to take your ability to pair wine and food to the next level, join me in a free online video class at

I can’t wait to share more wine stories with you.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to this one. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a terrific glass of wine with that second helping of turkey and cranberry sauce!



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