What to Pair with Your Classic Thanksgiving Dishes!
This post covers the main course. The big kahuna, the stomach stuffer, or if you have to use a “proper” term: The Mains!
If you have not read our post on side dishes and wine pairings yet, we highly encourage you to browse through that before reading this! If you did already get your feet wet with that short blog on a few of the key sides on every Thanksgiving table, you’re ready to jump right into the main events. As we mentioned in the previous post, there really are a multitude of wines, from Cava to Zin to Sancerre, that will pair very well with your Thanksgiving dinner. We highlight the ones we recommend you start with as the “building blocks”, and not the “end all, be all”. We also provide a lot of information on all the Thanksgiving main dishes so if you know exactly which dish you want wine for, be sure to skip ahead to it! We cover different types of stuffing, main bird options, dessert pairings, and then round out this post with a look at some high-end options if you are looking to turn up the notch on your celebrations!
For a full list of all the products we think pair well with your entire Thanksgiving meal, be sure to explore this product page. Keep in mind, if you click on any of the specific product links below and you arrive at a blank page, simply select another store and you will likely find the product! Don’t worry if it is not the store you typically frequent! We deliver within 10miles of all our stores for free…so you can get any of the wines you would like!
Be sure to watch the tasting video we created to talk you through the flavors and profiles of some of these wines for your main dishes!
Ok, we are getting into it now. Most people, when they pair up Thanksgiving, they have both turkey and stuffing in mind. What kind of stuffing? Are there raisins in there? What about sausage? Is it spicy? Nearly all stuffings include some type of bread, celery, sage, and thyme. Those are standard flavors we can build from to create unique and surprising flavors for the people joining us around the table. Besides these standards, you can really go all over with this dish. So we will give you a pairing for each of the more adventurous stuffings, as well as for your tried-and-true classic.
Classic Stuffings: When we say “classic” we mean what is found most frequently in stuffings. This includes your fresh sages and thymes as spices. It means celery, carrots, and a light onion. This always includes some type of bread (sourdough, rye, white, etc.). For this simple, yet effective combination the best wines are Syrahs or Burgundys (which have a nice amount of Chardonnay). We would specifically recommend trying the Romain Duvernay Domaine De Cabane Cotes Du Rhone, the Domaine Alain Geoffory Petit Chablis, or Meurgey Croses Macon Uchizy for this day to help highlight the spices you include in this dish.
Raisins: Raisins? Aren’t they just dehydrated grapes? Well, sure…why not. One would think that since raisins are grapes, then any grape can go with. Well, no. There is a particular taste to a raisin, and that can really come out in a stuffing, so we would get something that is on that level, but elegant, deep in flavor, maybe something that underwent a “Ripasso” (that’s for another blog) method. You should get where I’m going, because we’re laying it on pretty thick. We’re talking about Amarone! This wine undergoes the “Ripasso” method, so you get a higher intensity on the fruit and it is just marvelous!
**Note: A good rule of thumb for all age-worthy wine is this: the younger the wine (7-10 years), the longer you should decant it, and the larger the decanter should be! I decant (had to), young Amarone needs contact with the air so that it can open up, since a larger decanter has extra surface area for the wine, this is the decanter of choice. When you get up in the age of the wine (15-20 years), the opposite is the preferred method. Use a small decanter (yes, there is a difference) since there is less surface area for the wine to be exposed to, yet, still exposed and decant for about 1 hour, 2 at the very most.
We recommend Begali Amarone “Ca Bianca” della Valpolicella Classico
Sausage: We really like an acid driven wine that has a lot of fruit and just as much focus. Some people like to lean toward Sauvignon Blanc/Sancerre because chances are, there is fennel in the sausage, but we think you are missing a great opportunity for something from the good old US of A! We’re talking Zinfandel and Chardonnay! Both of these wines have exceptional acid to them. Zins, that’s a no brainer. Chards, that’s a “brainer?”
When it comes to Sausage in the stuffing, you don’t want a wine that will be too dry. You want something that is unctuous in fruit and that is made possible with the grapes mentioned. Here are our recommendations:
For your Zinfandels: Venge Vineyards “Scout’s Honor” Red Blend (Mainly Zinfandel, but with a family presence, including Charbono, Petite Sirah, and Syrah), Napa Valley, California, or Lamborn Family Vineyards Zinfandel “The Happy Dirt,” (made by Heidi Barrett of “Screaming Eagle” fame) Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California.
And your Chardonnay: Rivers-Marie Chardonnay “Platt” Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, California or Maldonado “Parr” Vineyard Chardonnay Knights Valley, Sonoma County, California.
And because we always love to share a little extra with you…here’s a bonus pairing if you are like us and love any type of mushroom dish or are gluten free!
Mushroom-Cauliflower: These stuffings follow similar spice and flavor profiles as your classic stuffings, but they usually include a recommendation to cook with a dry white wine! So you might now be asking, what wine do I cook with? And what wine do I then drink when I eat this dish after? Those are both great questions and we have our thoughts! When cooking with a dry white wine, you want to lean towards a cheaper yet still flavorful bottle. The Flight Chardonnay is perfect for this at $11.99 because it is light and lively so will accent the food while it cooks. Now as we all know (and if you are reading this but did not already know…now you will! Welcome to the club) when the wine cooks with food, the flavors change, and much, if not all, of the alcohol, is cooked out. Therefore, when looking to pair a wine with food that has been cooked in a dry white, we could not recommend a better option than a full-bodied Chardonnay with exquisite restrained power, like the Jax Y3 Chardonnay from Napa.
This about sums up our stuffing expertise. If you have other flavors and ingredients appearing in your stuffing that are not discussed, please reach out to us and we would be happy to continue this conversation – the best part of our days are eating good food and drinking good wine, followed extremely closely by talking about both!
Tofurkey: Oh, it’s a thing… Seriously, when it comes to tofu, it really is all about how you spice it. Most people want to add smoky flavors to this dish, so we recommend Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, even Sauvignon Blanc, but if I were to put my finger on it, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend Bordeaux, because, who doesn’t love Bordeaux? Let me point out two: 2016 Chateau Cap Saint George “Cap d’Or” Rouge, and 2016 Chateau Olivier “Le Dauphin d’Olivier” Rouge. They are both exceptional wines with the Saint Emilion having lush fruit and the Pessac-Léognan being so adaptable to seemingly anything “meaty.” They are already excellent by themselves. With tofurkey, they are exceptional.
Turkey: Ok, let’s talk it. Because of white meat and dark meat, there are a variety of red and white wines that can pair with a well prepared bird. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Châteauneuf du Pape, Malbec, Champagne (for those of you that will deep fry, Champagne is your ticket to glory!), the list goes on…
If you are looking for just one recommendation, you know you want a Pinot Noir… you’re wondering why we haven’t mentioned it yet. Well, cue the Pinots because it is the prime candidate for the white meat portion of a turkey! Try wines like:
Rivers Marie Pinot Noir “Silver Eagle” Vineyard from the Sonoma Coast, Anthill Farms Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast, and Roots “Crosshairs” Cuvee, from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
If you are more of a dark turkey meat fan and head straight for the legs, all of those Pinots will provide a lovely experience, but you could also dive into an acid driven Chardonnay, like 2018 Domaine Alain Geoffory Petit Chablis. The Chabils will “wow” you with the way the acid and fat combine! Like eating into a duck breast, the dryness of the Petit Chablis will just melt that fat in your palate, sending you to “happy town.”.
For those of you who deep fry your turkey, the best Champagne you could choose to complement your crispy bird is the Henri Dosnon Brut Sélection. This Champagne is elegant, full-bodied and shockingly smooth. It is the exact drink you want to complement anything fried, but will not overpower the spices and flavors you may have included in your recipe.
While not everyone thinks of dessert as the time to open another bottle of wine, there are some truly unique wines (and beers) that pair the best with a sweet dish…like pie! Now, there is a specific rule you don’t have to follow (rules were made to be broken!): if you are using a dessert wine, make sure the wine is sweeter than the food, otherwise you run the risk of the wine tasting sour.
Apple Pie: Sauternes, it’s not just for Foie Gras. This dessert wine has apple and honey tones with a viscosity that lets you know that you are dealing with something serious. We recommend 2015 Château Mingets Sauternes. Another option that you cannot go wrong with, is Champagne. It is the exception to the rule listed above. The smoother, and less Brut Champagnes are the way to go if you want a little bubbly. Try any of these options:
- NV Jean Vesselle demi-sec Rosé Cuvée Friandise – in our Great Falls store
- 2018 Boccard Bugey Cernndon demi-sec Rosé – in our McLean store
- NV Gimonnet-Gonet Brut Tradition – in our Vienna store
Pumpkin Pie: Once again, Sauternes is a nice choice that will be traditional, but if you’d like to be adventurous, this is a great time to try a hard cider! Any of these are a great option:
- Blue Bee Rocky Ridge Reserve – in our Vienna store
- Cidre Bouch Brut – in our Great Falls store
- Downeast Cider “Original Blend” – in our McLean store
Tangy/Tart Fruit Pies: Syrah or Beaujolais are nice choices for things like cherry pie or coconut cream pie, especially on the lighter side, try EOD Cellars “Master Blaster” Red Blend.
The Special Occasion
For some families and friends, Thanksgiving is the main time to see each other. This is definitely a special occasion and there is no way that we will not get more into that “Special Occasion” wine. It is the perfect excuse to spend a little more on a bottle (or two or three) and treat you and your loved ones. You are either with your family, amongst friends, with a loved one, and whatever it may be, you have been waiting ALL YEAR to buy and open that “Special Bottle” of wine. If this sounds like we’re describing your thanksgiving, you are in good company! We go all out for Thanksgiving and have many incredible options to give you the chance to do the same.
Here are just a few examples of some truly special wines that we love from Wineries we keep coming back to year over year. You will not be disappointed, no matter what you try!
- 2016 Meo-Camuzet Clos Vougeot Grand Cru “Pres de Cellier,” Clos de Vougeot, Cote de Nuits ($335.99)
- 2017 Venge Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve, Oakville Estate, Napa Valley, California ($149.99)
- 2016 Domaine Georges Vernay Condrieu “Coteau de Vernon,” Condrieu, Rhone Valley, France ($139.99)
- 2017 Domaine Buisson Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Folatieres” Côte de Beaune, Burgundy, France ($149.99)
- 2010 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon, Champagne, France ($199.99)