5 Tips to Pick Wines for Thanksgiving

No other holiday 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.

Relax. Have a drink.

And try some of my suggestions for great wines to pair with Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings that Leanne and I chat about in the video above.

You can also watch our first video on fall wines here.

In my free online matching tool, you can click on “turkey holiday dinner” to find wines that accompany all kinds of dishes, from roasted turkey to turducken, from creamed corn to pecan pie.

You can also choose Terrific Turkey Wines as a category from my  wine reviews.


Turkey breast with cranberry sauce


Here are the wines featured in this segment (click on the wine names to see details):

Villa Conchi Cava Sparkling Wine, Spain

Dunavar Pinot Grigio, Hungary

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

Cave Spring CSV Riesling, Niagara, Ontario

Remy Pannier Rosé, Loire Valley, France

Exultet Pinot Noir Cru X, Prince Edward County, Ontario

Trapiche Broquel Malbec, Argentina

Reif Vidal Icewine, Niagara, Ontario

Here are 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?Holiday turkey

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.

The wine matching tool isn’t just about Thanksgiving dinner: It allows you to pair wine with other seasonal fall produce, game meats, vegetarian cuisine, cheeses, TV dinners, breads and dessert.

You can simply search by wine for meal inspirations or by food to find great wine choices. The matcher has more than 380,000 food and wine combinations, as well as thousands of recipes for when you’re planning holiday parties and Christmas turkey dinner.

Got a dish or a wine to stump me? E-mail me and I’ll suggest a match for you. Happy Thanksgiving!

More Thanksgiving and turkey wine tips.



5 Tips to Pick Wines for Thanksgiving

Michael: Well so far the wine info Leanne Cusack and Natalie MacLean are sharing is toast worthy. Let’s pour another glass … I mean have another segment.

Leanne: Cheers to you, Michael.

Michael: Yes.

Leanne: Natalie MacLean is going to take us through your Thanksgiving feast and actually it’s great that we’re doing this now so you can plan, you can shop and add elements to the meal.

Natalie: Exactly.

Leanne: We’re starting with some bubbles, why not?

Natalie: Why not with a toast? And what I’ve picked today is a Cava which is a Sparkling wine from Spain and it’s a fraction of the price of Champagne. It’s toasty and it tastes great. It’s a great way to kick off the meal or while you’re waiting for the turkey to finish cooking. Pour everyone a glass of bubbly.

Leanne: So Sparkling wine for the Spaniards is called Cava.

Natalie: Yes, Exactly.

Leanne: Pinot Grigio?

Natalie: Now, you think of this as a light white wine for summer but we’re talking turkey now, literally and figuratively. Turkey can be dry especially the way we do it so I always need a juicy red or white wine to moisten the turkey. Pinot Grigio … this one is from Hungary at the fantastic price of $13. It’s a great deal and it’s also a nice aperitif to start off the occasion.

Leanne: And moving along, I think this is our… no this is Sauvignon Blanc.

Natalie: Sauvignon Blanc.

Leanne: In New Zealand they really do the Sauvignon Blanc well.

Natalie: Yes, they excel. That’s what they hang their hat on, that and Pinot Noir on the red side. This one from Villa Maria is well priced, it’s about $17. It’s juicy and mouth-watering. For me, it’s almost like a liquid salad in a glass but again it gets the juices running. You can imagine it’s almost like a liquid condiment to your turkey.

Leanne: And this reveals so much because of different tastes. Some people say, “I’m exclusively Chardonnay.”

Natalie: Yes.

Leanne: And they don’t really like a Sauvignon.

Natalie: Exactly, Sauvignon Blanc is not for Chardonnay lovers, I don’t think, unless you’re mixing and matching. Chardonnay often has the oaky, sort of buttery flavour but this one is clean and fresh and gets right to the point.

Leanne: And so does she which is so great. We are moving, this is a Canadian…

Natalie: Cave Spring.

Leanne: It’s a fabulous Riesling.

Natalie: I keep coming back to this one. I think they’re the Riesling Masters of Niagara.

Leanne: Which is great boasting-point … boasting and toasting, yes?

Natalie: Exactly and again you’re going to get the juices running because there’s acidity here, nothing to be afraid of, it’s good when it comes to pairing with food.

Leanne: What would you serve this one with?

Natalie: This is a bridge wine so I would serve it with the turkey.  I would pair it up with sweet potatoes. I would put it with the cranberry sauce and depending on if you’re someone who focuses in on one side dish for Thanksgiving dinner because it’s not all about the big bird, right? Sometimes turkey is an excuse for cranberry sauce so this one is a terrific pairing.

Leanne: And for you Natalie, turkey is an excuse for wine.

Natalie: Exactly.

Leanne: A lot of people have a little bit of a prejudice against Rosé.

Natalie: Yes.

Leanne: You’re saying don’t vilify Rosé; you love Rosé.

Natalie: Exactly and again let’s not also confine it to summer. This is a dry Rosé from the Loire Valley, beautiful and it’s going to go so well with turkey. What we have here are fleeting notes of field strawberry, sort of like reminiscent of summer.

Leanne: Why do a lot of people say “Oh I don’t like Rosé.” Why is that?

Natalie: There’s still a nasty syrupy pink reputation from the 70’s.

Leanne: … now we’re trying to discount a bad reputation.

Natalie: Exactly.

Leanne: This is another Canadian from Prince Edward County.

Natalie: I discovered this recently on a trip to the county. I think that Prince Edward County is making brilliant Pinot Noir. There are a number of producers but this one, I just discovered. It’s amazing. Its like cranberry sauce in a glass but dry, very dry.

Leanne: And serving that with?

Natalie: Well the cranberry’s back … cranberry sauce. I got to get off that … the chestnut stuffing or the turkey. If you’re a red wine lover you don’t want whites with your turkey. You want a juicy Pinot Noir, not a lot of tannin  mouth feel, no … that’s a Cabernet Sauvignon. But Pinot Noir is going to get the juices running with the turkey.

Leanne: We only have about 30 seconds left and here’s another Malbec.

Natalie: If you want more full-bodied red wine with your turkey dinner, you want something again that’s smooth, a little bit deeper and darker. Malbec from Trapiche is beautiful and…

Leanne: The price-point of this one?

Natalie: … this one is only $13.95. It’s amazing.

Leann: Great, last but not least is a dessert wine for your pumpkin pie.

Natalie: Right, this one comes from Reif, a winery in Niagara. Pumpkin pie wouldn’t be complete without Niagara Ice-wine. Its low in alcohol for a dessert wine and it’s only about 10% or 11% alcohol.  It has those beautiful apricot, citrus flavours that go so nicely with the pumpkin and the spice.

Leanne: We want to thank you so much Natalie MacLean, we have a link on our website to Natalie’s website. She’s going to help you with your shopping; not personally but with her app. Anyway, really great descriptions. We went from the runway, Michael, to the dining room buffet.

Michael: Lots of great selections.


Posted with permission of CTV.



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