Wines for Thanksgiving: What Works for Your Menu

10 top wines for your table


Everybody has a suggestion. Is this what we’re thankful for? Mass confusion when faced with a roasted bird? I know how the news cycle works and I know the best way to get attention is to be outlandish, which probably explains why every year there is a new “best” wine for Thanksgiving.

Come on folks, the menu hasn’t changed in years! Thanksgiving should be about sharing the day with friends and family, and the quintessential All-American comfort foods. The bottom line is that the wine you like is the best wine for your Thanksgiving but, in case you are searching through all the options, I thought this would be a good time break down some of the classic pairings for Thanksgiving.


Chardonnay is the most popular wine in America and there’s no need to avoid it on Thanksgiving, as it’s actually as good a choice as almost any other wine. 

If your meal has orchard fruits and a nutty element, apples, pecans, or wild rice, those flavors can serve as a classic bridge, making this complementary pairing an easy winner. 

I would opt for a wine with a little oak. The spice and sweetness imparted by the oak will help the wine stand up to the richer dishes at the table.

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris, as opposed to Pinot Grigio, generally refers to a wine made in the Alsatian style, as opposed to the Northern Italian; the grape is the same in both.

In Alsace, Pinot Gris tends to be a rich wine with a decidedly spicy character and enough residual sugar to be round and fruity if not downright sweet.

Many producers in the Pacific Northwest produce Pinot Gris in that style, though in general they are fruitier than their Alsatian counterparts. With either example you’ll find a wine with rich fruit and an edge of sweetness that allows the wine to work well with the sweeter elements of the meal.


If you want to find an obviously sweet white, Riesling is your best option. The precise flavors of Riesling can range from very citrusy to peaches and honey. 

In Germany, the wines are labeled with a rough guide to sweetness: Trocken is dry, while Halbtrocken is semi-dry. The terms Kabinett and Spätlese generally refer to increasing levels of sweetness, but that’s not always the case since the terms actually refer to sugar levels in harvested grapes, not the finished wines.


Vouvray is produced in a wide range of styles from bone-dry to incredibly sweet, but each type delivers rich, complex fruit flavors with an earthy complexity.

Vouvray is a wine produced from the Chenin Blanc grape in France’s Loire Valley. The wines tend to be remarkable bargains and are ones I always include for Thanksgiving.

Tendre is a style of Vouvray that includes enough sweetness so that it is just barely noticeable, and makes for a perfect match with most Thanksgiving dishes. If you like a bit of extra sweetness look for the demi-secs, and you might even want to try a demi-sec sparkler!

Sparkling whites

There are many people who feel that sparkling wines can complement any meal and, while they can certainly ensure that you’ll have a festive Thanksgiving, they may not be the ideal match for your meal.

Having said that, I have to admit that the nutty-fruity interplay of sparkling wines can work very well with a traditional Thanksgiving spread particularly if the wine is a touch sweet. 

Prosecco from Italy and sparklers labeled extra dry or demi-sec generally are softer-styled sparklers with just enough sweetness to work with Thanksgiving sides.

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  • Snooth User: Iboboy
    111231 44

    Bad news on one front - Thanksgiving is not a "uniquely American holiday". The first North American Thanksgiving was celebrated in Newfoundland (Canada) by Frobisher in 1578 and in Quebec City by Champlain in around 1610 and we have carried on the tradition up north here since. It just happens a bit earlier (October) due to the earlier harvest time. Cheers!!

    Brian - Vancouver BC.

    Nov 16, 2010 at 2:56 PM

  • Hmmm...the omission of Gewurtzraminer baffles me. Perhaps even a Viogner... nothing better than getting a great vintage of Gundlach Bundschu Gewurztraminer to help that turkey to move thru your system after all that turkey and stuffing...if I spelled the Gewurtz wrong...hard day on the range!

    Nov 16, 2010 at 5:32 PM

  • Write your comment here.

    Nov 16, 2010 at 5:32 PM

  • Snooth User: edjohnson1
    611914 32

    Unelss it's because there needs to be more screen views for advertising, why can't the "entire article" be delivered on one page/screen instead instead of having to scroll throught each miniature "page"?? Arrrrgh!!.

    Nov 16, 2010 at 5:49 PM

  • Beaujolais Nouveau! When November comes around I count the days. Can't haveThanksgiving without it.

    Nov 16, 2010 at 6:11 PM

  • Snooth User: Navidea
    505917 7

    Beaujolais Nouveau! Me too!

    Nov 16, 2010 at 8:39 PM

  • Although I agree some of the other choices work, I'm in the gewurztraminer camp. Especially if it's not too-too sweet, as some of the Californian gewurz's are. I do prefer the Alsatians, but even they now make sweeter wines than previously, possibly because they're trying to compete with the Californian juice. Whatever the reason, and whichever you choose, gewurz is a superb grape for the Thanksgiving menu.

    Nov 16, 2010 at 8:55 PM

  • Hawaiian Punch with seltzer has always been a family tradition much enjoyed with our Thanksgiving meal. So many wonderful memories of toasts round the table, celebrating our families thankfulness and unity. Sigh.

    Nov 16, 2010 at 9:07 PM

  • Snooth User: jennym
    183722 9

    I agree with the comment about the slide shows--I would much prefer to have some option to read and print the entire article without going through the slide show...

    Nov 16, 2010 at 9:58 PM

  • He pays the bills with the slide show ads. Suck it up, and try not to look. I just wish they tailored their ads to the reviewed wine.
    I don't find sparkling shiraz I would trust at Safeway....where was that Ad? I sure would have clicked on it.

    Nov 16, 2010 at 10:26 PM

  • What about a good Aussie sparkling shiraz - fantastic with turkey!

    Nov 17, 2010 at 6:09 AM

  • Snooth User: Rigo
    155664 17

    How about Bull's Eye Semisweet Riesling NY,soft yet complex enough to go thru spicy appetizers, spices and hearthy flavors of Thanksgiving dinner

    Nov 17, 2010 at 10:54 AM

  • Living in North Carolina I found a Riesling under $10.00 produced by Old North State Winery simply called "Riesling" to be an excellent Thanksgiving wine. Not too sweet and not too dry, a real balance of fruit and acidity. Pairs well with all the Thanksgiving goodies!!

    Nov 17, 2010 at 11:29 AM

  • I will have homemade apple cider wine fermented in 2007 with Oak Chips added after 2 years of aging. The Oak chips were removed after 13 days. I live in Upstate New York which is Apple Country. Cost? Priceless. It isn't always about the grapes.
    Nov 17, at 12:23 PM

    Nov 17, 2010 at 12:25 PM

  • Interesting Iboboy...I have not experienced Canadian Pinot. : )

    Oregon AVA Ribbon Ridge and the surrounding vicinity has wonderful spicy Pinot Noir that perhaps wouldn't get lost. Simply stay away from the Dundee Hills on T-Day and Oregon Pinot will get the job done nicely!

    Nov 17, 2010 at 2:10 PM

  • Snooth User: Vine Master Fanucchi
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    46167 371

    OK I am bias but I have a long following of repeat buyers who agree!

    There is one wine that goes great with all the "Traditional" Thanksgiving Fair and Impresses & delights not only white wine sippers but the hard-core "I only drink red wine" folks:
    Fanucchi Vineyards Trousseau Gris (2006 is outstanding now)

    Also The Fanucchi Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel which is also balanced as well as a big red Zinfandel (go for the 2005 which Wine & Spirits just wrote up again in their Fall issue.)
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Nov 17, 2010 at 3:53 PM

  • Snooth User: OWL
    99180 62

    Why is this site so baised towards California wines (especially pinot). Although Oregon pinots are in general much costlier than some from California, I have yet to find many Cal pinots that compare. I find my tastes also are leaning towards Washington reds over California too. How about a little more exposure for the great northwest? Yes, I live in the northwest, and no, I am not in the wine business!!

    Nov 18, 2010 at 10:30 AM

  • Snooth User: homestar
    512161 83

    I don't mind the slide shows at all... it might be because I have a relatively new computer? Not meant to be a put down--the old one crashed--but I was pretty frustrated with many of these kinds of things with the old computer.

    Nov 19, 2010 at 7:46 AM

  • Snooth User: lisamattsonwine
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    372258 384

    Let there be bubbles and barbaresco ....

    Hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!


    Nov 22, 2010 at 9:33 AM

  • Snooth User: hugh27
    Hand of Snooth
    253137 65

    To go off the beaten track I have just found a most incredible matching wine for almost all fall events- Goes fantastically with fall veggies (orange and yellow) wild game, either red fleshed fish (Salmon, Char, Grayling of lake trout) or white game (partridge, Pheasant Turkey, wild boar)- purists will roll their eyes but after 40 years of Matching food and wine professionally, this I highly recommend- a product from a totally unknown region of Spain, Extremadura- the Barros Syrah Rose de Extremadura- yes I said Rose- and it is big, fresh, slightly petillant and huge, long lasting clean flavours- In Canada at $11.95 in the US should be about $8.00 if you can find - for help go to <> if you cannot find
    Meryy Christmas

    Nov 23, 2010 at 5:49 PM

  • Snooth User: Sven62
    561514 10

    Get iReader extension for Chrome. Read the whole article - no ads!

    Nov 24, 2010 at 7:43 PM

  • Snooth User: Harlen F
    337202 9

    I might be out of place here but I don't care. How bout a thumbs up for sparkling burgundy?

    Nov 25, 2010 at 1:44 PM

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