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Your Guide to the Best Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

Guess who’s going to have the most delicious Thanksgiving feast this year? That’s right, YOU! If you’re an expert on wine, you may find some wine varietals to add to your wine list this year. Or if you’re a novice but still want to impress your guests, this Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Guide will help shed some light on what to pour.

Planning ahead is a key aspect of any successful Thanksgiving. But as you may know all too well, when friends and family get together we have a tendency to get preoccupied. Don't let that be the case with the wine! This year you can focus on the food while Gold Medal Wine Club delivers the ideal wines right to your door - no hassle, no guess work, just great wine.

Now, we’ll let you in on a little secret that is the magic of pairing the right wines with the right foods. Let’s get going by taking a look at some common Thanksgiving wine pairings and the recipes to serve with them.

PS. Look for the Shopping List at the end!

Appetizers (The Distraction for Kitchen-Lingerers)

You’re bound to have a few appetizers laying around to curb your appetite or fend off hungry guests while waiting for the main course. Appetizers tend to be lighter and less complex than the entrée, a theme that should be mimicked in your wine choices. But there are always exceptions to the rules.

a charcuterie board of Thanksgiving appetizers

Dips, Nuts, and Olives

Classic appetizers such as spinach dip, artichoke dip, hummus, and more, as well as mixed nuts and marinated olives would pair wonderfully with a crisp, dry glass of Rosé or light-bodied white. Rosés and other white wines such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay offer balanced notes of fresh fruits and bright acidity cutting through the rich flavors of dip, yet also complementing nuts and olives.

Crackers, Cheeses and Stuffed Mushrooms

This is where the line is blurred between which wines would be best to serve. Lighter cheeses and marinated mushrooms call for light-bodied wines similar to the pairings for dips, nuts and olives. However, heavy and aromatic cheeses such as Blue Cheese or seasoned Stuffed Mushrooms pair best with a Grenache or perhaps even a Pinot Noir.

Dinner (The Main Hoopla)

Finally, it’s here! The Main Hoopla that you’ve been waiting and laboring for all day! Gather your friends and family, load up your plates and don’t forget to make a toast to the host! Although it may not be Champagne (which we also have, by the way, imported directly from France) raise your glasses and get ready for a marvelous, first-rate, out-of-this-world Thanksgiving dinner - accented by your expertly-chosen wine selections.

Thanksgiving stuffed turkey

Traditional Turkey and Stuffing

A majority of American households will be baking their turkeys in the oven, along with some stuffing to create this delicious and flavorful Thanksgiving staple.

Take advantage of the warm, mouthwatering turkey and scrumptious stuffing by pairing it with a rich Chardonnay or Viognier, for those of you who prefer whites, and a well-rounded Merlot or Red Blend for the red wine drinkers. Look for the bold white wines and red wines with soft tannins to bring the most out of your Turkey and stuffing. You want the wine to complement the flavors without being overbearing.

Pro Tip: If you enjoy both, we suggest drinking the white wines before transitioning to the reds.

Mashed potatoes and gravy

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Another iconic Thanksgiving dish would be the potatoes. Mashed, baked, roasted, you name it - one variation or another is bound to be passed around your dinner table.

The ideal pairing should be wines that are soft around the edges yet bright enough to cut through the rich gravy. Thankfully the wine varietals that pair nicely with your Turkey also go well with its trusty main side dish of potatoes. If you’ve finished that glass and want to try something different, a dry Riesling or a hearty Zinfandel are also great choices. The latter two are superb pairings for sweet potatoes too.

Cranberry sauce and green beans

Cranberry Sauce, Corn and Green Beans

What’s turkey dinner without some heavenly cranberry sauce. Although it may be one of those sauces we might not think much of, it really packs in an abundance of flavor and flatters even the driest piece of turkey.

Sometimes it’s sweet, sometimes it’s tart but either way we should turn to the Pinots. Pinot Gris has fresh fruit elements with wonderful crisp, clean acidity. Pinot Noir is also fruit-forward but is more powerful and complex than a Pinot Gris. Both grape varietals would nicely complement a wide range of sides including corn, green beans, Brussels sprouts and cranberry bread.

Dessert (The Reason We Ate Dinner So Fast)

Yep, you’ve heard the saying “There’s always room for dessert!” And it couldn’t be truer than on Thanksgiving. Even after you’ve consumed enough for 3 in one sitting… or more depending on if you got up for seconds, somehow you find the hidden space for something sweet.

pumpkin and apple pie

Pies + Crumbles

Pumpkin, pecan, apple and more. You can count on at least one or two warm, oven-baked pies or crumbles just begging for some ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream.

These traditional Thanksgiving desserts lend themselves to a decadent and velvety Old Vine Zinfandel or aged red wines like a Cabernet Sauvignon. Big, round flavor profiles of these red wines will balance out the sweetness of the pie while reminding you that there may be even more room for dessert than originally thought.

Creme anglaise being poured on chocolate souffle

Chocolates + Soufflées

Creamy, rich, chocolate truffles and fluffy soufflés are also favorites that frequent many Thanksgiving tables. These desserts have distinctive flavor characteristics that call for equally distinctive wines.

Opulent desserts such as these need robust wines and luckily, earlier stated varietals also make wonderful pairings. Just as delicious, pairings of Tempranillo that offer notes of berries, plumbs and vanilla or a luxurious Petite Sirah with blackberry fruit and peppery qualities will leave your taste buds wanting more.

a blueberry lattice pie

Fruity Desserts + Tarts

For those of you who lean away from the sweet and dense desserts may opt for a fruit tart or fruit-based pie. While these can be sweet, they also have a fresh quality that can be mimicked in your wine choices.

The white wine lovers have been waiting patiently and yes, it is possible and quite delightful to pair a nice full-bodied white wine. Roussanne with its hints of honey, pear and floral qualities or a Grüner Veltliner with its white pepper, and citrus characteristics followed by a spicy finish is wonderful paired with a piece of your favorite fruit-centered dessert. A good, hearty Merlot bursting with flavors of red cherries and raspberries followed by supple texture and soft tannins is also an excellent choice.

Are you still with me after all that!? Excellent. Pairing wines with your meals can be a daunting task. If you’re planning on serving any of these traditional Thanksgiving dishes, keep some of our wine pairing suggestions in mind. Not only will they call just the right attention to the wine and bring out the best in the food, they will also have your guests wanting more.

What are you waiting for? Visit our Online Wine Store, see our fantastic assortment of wines from boutique wineries, then select your preferred wines, and voila! They show up at your door ready to be enjoyed by friends and family. Still unsure? Give us a call and one of our resident pros will help you with your choices.

Cheers - and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Gold Medal Wine Club!

Shopping List

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