What Wines to Serve at Thanksgiving

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Hey Guys! Thomas here, Gaby’s husband and resident wine guy. She asked me to break down wine pairings for Thanksgiving so after much taste testing over the last few friendsgiving… here’s what we’ve come to find!

Wines to Serve at Thanksgiving from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

When it comes to pairing wines on Thanksgiving there truly is no “perfect” wine.  To make things more challenging everyone has their own favorite wines and what types of food they like to pair them with. With that being said, there are a couple basic strategies you can follow to make sure your wine selections for thanksgiving will be delicious. 

#1: The most important thing to remember, there are no rules when it comes to wine.  People like what they like and there is no changing that so keep this in mind. There is no wrong or right when it comes to wine, just personal preference.  

Wines to Serve at Thanksgiving from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

#2 Red Wine 101: The experts suggest sticking with light bodied reds that are not super “big and bold” because these types of wines can overpower your palette and overshadow the turkey and all the other flavors of the delicious dishes you are about to enjoy.  Consider choosing wines that have a nice amount of fruit and acidity, with soft tannins

Thanksgiving Red Wine Suggestions: 

  • French Gamay
  • Pinot Noir
  • Syrah
  • A fruity Zinfandel
  • Merlot

#3: Whites: Avoid white wines aged in Oak at all costs, similar to the big bold reds, the oak will dominate the flavor of the food.  Ideally I am looking for a white with well-balanced acidity.  I try and find whites that have more floral, green, and herbaceous flavors.    

Wines to Serve at Thanksgiving from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Thanksgiving White Wine Suggestions:

  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Riesling, 
  • an un-oaked or low-oak Chardonnay
  • Viognier 
  • Grüner Veltliner

#4 Remember what I said about #1 and how there are no rules? Well our personal strategy breaks point #2.  Gaby and I LOVE big bold wines so we had some at our table on Friendsgiving.  Our strategy was to buy a variety of different wines and let our guests choose the direction they wanted to go in.

Wines to Serve at Thanksgiving from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Here’s what wine we serve for Thanksgiving + Friendsgiving:

I chose 5 different types of wines that covered a full range of flavor profiles while trying my best to stick with points number 2 and 3. 

For white we went with a Sauv Blanc:  Super dry white with green and herbaceous flavors with medium acidity.  Our second white, an unoaked Viognier.  We chose this because we were looking for a more full bodied White that was still dry but was a bit more floral, paired great with the Green beans, Turkey, chipotle sweet potatoes and desserts.  

For Reds we went with two options: Pinot Noir: If you take one thing away from this post, it’s that Pinot Noir is the go to wine for food pairing.  It literally works with almost everything, you can’t go wrong.  Its fruit forward and does not overwhelm the pallet so you can enjoy all the flavors from your dishes.   Our second Red we went with a Barbera.  The cool thing about Barbera is that it is both rich and light bodied at the same time.  It’s one of those wines with light tannins and high acidity and a very dark color.  However it really does not overpower you pallet so you can still enjoy the lighter flavored food. 

For our fifth selection we had our guests bring Champagne or Sparkling Wine.  The cool part about having your guests bring wine is that you get a variety of different types.  As a big wine fan, I love tasting different wines and seeing how they play with the different flavors of the food throughout the evening.  

Bonus bottle: I am generally not a very sweet white wine type of person, HOWEVER, we did have a bottle of Riesling that was the perfect wine to go with my pumpkin pie.  The deep honey notes found in the wine were perfect with the spices used in the pumpkin pie.  I hope you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving.  

PS – are you thinking of putting this on your Thanksgiving menu? Check out the full What’s Gaby Cooking menu here along with the master prep schedule to keep things organized and on track!
And if you need more Thanksgiving Ideas check out this roundup of 80+ Thanksgiving Recipes and Ideas

8 Comments

  1. Gaby and Thomas ,
    When are coming to Paso Robles to taste?
    The wines mentioned here , I work at a winery that has all of these and more and would love for you to come and taste. Complimentary of course. I think you would love them.
    Look up Pear Valley.
    Your blog is my favorite of all time!
    Thank you for all that you suggest and do!

  2. Hi Gaby and Thomas, just want to let you both know how much I enjoy all that you do. I have always wanted to go to Mexico City so I am interested in your input!

  3. Love this, thanks for all of the tips! I’ve not tried Viognier or Barbera – do you have any specific bottles you recommend trying? I’d love to check them out.

  4. Great piece.. so agree with everything you mentioned! But thought you may let us know what are some of your favs from the varieties you mentioned.. Pinot Noir is my go to red and also love good glass of Sauvignon Blanc and also fan of Gruner Veltliner. Do tell Thomas !
    Thanks!

  5. I love these suggestions regarding the wine but could you please give me particular or specific brands…. I am generally partial to a Sauv Blanc from New Zealand…but would love to try new Chards or Pinots…..other Reds….Any of the wineries/bottles you chose would be helpful…Thank you !

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