The Right Wine for Thanksgiving

Let’s be honest: who will eat just turkey? Selecting a wine that will go well with just turkey is impossible when we add gravy, stuffing, rice, and maybe twenty or so other dishes. We all know it’s a day to pray the calories don’t stay with us.

So, given the reality, forget about intense, tannic, high-alcohol wines. Instead, opt for a light, fresh, low to medium-alcohol wine that suits most dishes and makes you feel better during and after dinner.

Think of a wine from a cool region, with minimal or no wood and bright flavors.

The first thing that comes to mind is Cava. A traditionally made Spanish sparkling wine that is inexpensive, festive, and goes great with food. Along those lines, you know that Prosecco and even a Franciacorta (both from Italy) will also work. That’s why we serve them at brunch as well.

If you prefer a white wine, I have a few. Greco di Tufo from Italy will be fantastic. Southern Italy may be hot, but Tufo, a town in Campania (hence Greco di Tufo), has volcanic soil that helps give this wine its distinctive character that makes it special for this day.

Related Article: Thanksgiving Recipe: Butternut Squash Pasta Bowl

A dry Riesling from Germany or a Pinot Gris from Alsace makes me drool. One of these two could probably be by my side during this special day.

Because of its outstanding acidity, Albariño from Rías Baixas (Spain) will also be good. And yes, the classic Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley or particularly from the Sancerre region will work. I think the elegant aroma and flavor profile will make it a better companion than those from New Zealand.

Almost any rosé from a cool region will work very well. If you are more adventurous, an “Orange wine” from Italy or Georgia will probably do a good job. Ultimately, remember that it depends on your taste and being thankful for all the blessings.

If you insist on a red, Pinot Noir will work, especially those from Oregon. Even better, open up a Beaujolais (Gamay grape from France). It is light and not very tannic. It goes well with turkey, salads, butternut squash, sweet potato, and cranberries.

Open a sweet wine, a Moscato (from Italy), or a late-harvest wine for dessert. Argentina makes incredible ones with the Torrontés grape, which are inexpensive.

Thanksgiving Tip: Turkey 101

Season the turkey 1 to 2 days in advance. Bake at 325°F. As you cook it, add a little of its juices all over the top to keep it moist and seasoned in the oven. Most importantly, use a thermometer and remove the turkey from the oven before it reaches 165°F.

If you want to enjoy a juicy, delicious turkey, take it out of the oven when it reaches 155°, then let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. The internal temperature will continue to cook during this process. This will allow the juices to integrate into the meat rather than spilling onto the cutting board.

Your Thanksgiving dinner will have a before and after if you follow my recommendation. Happy Thanksgiving!

Doreen Colondres is a celebrity chef. Author of the book The Kitchen Doesn’t Bite. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @DoreenColondres and visit (Photo courtesy Linda Nguyen.)