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Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

Sun, Sep 18, 22  |  wine

The holidays, while festive, can add to your stress levels with the preparations of the traditional feasts, gathering of family and the pressure to make sure you do better than last year (#nolumpymashers). In addition to making sure you don’t forget the salt in this year’s green bean casserole, you want to present your guests with libations that will be sure to please their palates and enhance your culinary prowess. Fear not! Big Red has all of the right choices to help your flavors pop and your spirits be bright.

Let’s assess the situation according to the facts. When you’ve answered these few questions, it will be easier to navigate the wide world of wine when you know what you are looking for.

Who is your audience? Are you having the extended family over with your cousin’s cousin brother’s girlfriend’s family? Is it an intimate affair with just the family you like and grouchy grandpa? Are you going rogue with your foodie ‘Friendsgiving’? Knowing your audience will help you determine how much wine you will be requiring and also the level of sophistication that you will need.

Let’s start with how much you will need. For a dinner style feast I always plan on three 4.5 ounce glasses per person and if it is a cocktail style gathering plan on four glasses per person. Each bottle of wine is 25.4 ounces, and you can get about 5 proper pours out of a bottle of wine. However, everyone has that uncle who ‘claims’ he doesn’t know the difference between a $5 and a $50 bottle of wine, yet always seems to be filling his glass to the top with the expensive stuff…so, like I said, know your audience. I always err on the side of buying an extra bottle or three. The wine isn’t going to go bad, as long as it isn’t opened, so you can use the extras later. Besides, no one wants to leave their own party to get more wine.

The Math:
Cocktail Party ((# people x 3) x 5)/ 25.4= #bottles needed

Dinner Party ((# people x 4) x 5)/ 25.4= #bottles needed
Of course…every party is different.

Or better yet, let us do the math and use our handy-dandy drink calculator

Next let’s talk about who is drinking. Are your guest knowledgeable and nerdy about wine? Weekend warriors or casual sippers? Are they just beginning their wine journey? There are plenty of wines that can cover many bases and keep your palate and your guests interested.

After you’ve determined number of guests and you’ve identified the knowledge of your group, the next is budget. If you want to spend lots on wine, you can…but you don’t have to. There are many options outside of the major wine regions that are just as delicious but at a fraction of the cost. Instead of Champagne, you can choose a lovely Cremant from France. Instead of Napa Cabernet, you can try a Cabernet from South America. It pays (literally) to be bold and seek out treasures from outside your comfort zones.

OK…on to the pairings:…


This can be a tough one because of the myriad of flavors that go into the traditional meal. Go-to wines tend to be Gewurztraminers for whites and Pinot Noir for red…but for an adventurous take, I recommend white Burgundy, A white from Gascogne, France or a Spanish Verdejo for the whites. For reds: Cru Beaujolais (Morgon or Moulin A Vent are my favorites), Nebbiolo or Barbara from Piedmont. All of these have the acidity to pair well with the cornucopia of flavors at ‘the harvest table’. Many casual wine drinkers are apt to drink sweeter or off-dry wines. Plus, we live in Indiana, this is Moscato country, so give them what they like! It is always nice to have a fruit wine or moscato type option for guests who don’t like the bone-dry wines.

Holiday feasts:
If you are preparing ham, I recommend an off-dry Riesling from Alsace or Germany. Not all Rieslings are candy sweet, Riesling has a vibrant and food-friendly acidity that makes it very versatile with lots of food preparations. Pinot noir is also a great Ham pairing, as the fruit of the wine plays wonderfully with the saltiness of the protein.

Should roast beef appear on the menu, I would recommend Syrah or Cabernet. If you don’t want to spend the ducats on a Napa expression, I implore you to take a look at Paso Robles or Argentina- where you can find fantastic wines at reasonable prices.

What about a Brunch? There are plenty of options for dry sparkling wines for your Mimosa, French 75s or Bellini…but you might want to wander into Moscato d’Asti territory. While they have some sweetness, there is a balancing acidity that makes the perfect for the first drink of the day. There are other lighter effervescent wines that will also help fit the bill and goes with egg casserole.

And as always…when it doubt- Sparkle it out! Sparkling wine goes with everything. Really, everything.

The wines:

Sparkling wine goes with EVERYTHING!
1 M&R Asti Spumante, the sweeter option
2 La Marca Prosecco & La Marca Prosecco Rose
3 Champagne Haton Brut Classic
4. Drappier Cote d'Ore Brute

Gewurztraminer (Guh-verts-TRA-Mee-Ner) is the classic pairing with Thanksgiving. It has a little bit of sweetness and pairs better with asparagus/ green bean casserole than most wines.
1 Oliver Gewurzraminer
2 Fetzer Grewurztraminer

Chardonnay is a medium to full bodied white with medium acidity. A classic dinner party wine.
1 Silver Linings Chardonnay
2 Ch Ste Michelle Chardonnay
3 Duckhord Decoy Chardonnay

Sauvignon Blanc is a high acid, aromatic grape. Better for Appetizers and before meal nibbles.
1 Elton Bay Sauvignon Blanc
2 Giesen 0% Sauvignon Blanc
3 Franciscan Sauvignon Blanc

Pinot Grigio is the goldilocks of the white wine category: It is not too sweet, not too dry, pleasant stone fruit flavors.
1 Vigneti Del Sole Pinot Grigio 750ml & 1.5L
2 Hb Pomerols Picpoul de Pinet
3 Santa Margarita Pinto Grigio

Riesling is a darling of Thanksgiving…it also pairs well with mostly everything. EMBRACE THE RIESLING!
1 Ch. St Michelle Johannesburg Riesling
2 Oliver Rielsing
3 Bookewalter Anecdote Riesling

Rosé is still a thing. It is versatile with the myiad of flavors that is a Thanksgiving table.
1 Campuget Rosé
2 Cloudline Rosé

Pinot Noir is a light skinned red wine that pairs well with a wide variety of food, especially turkey, chicken, ham and salmon.
1 Silver Linings Pinot Noir
2 Elouan Pinot Noir
3 Sea Glass Pinot Noir

Zinfandel is a bold pairing…and we have a great Zinfandel!
1 Block 041 Ov Zinfandel

Non-Alcoholic Wines are a category that is crowd friendly and for everyone around the table.
1 Faux Rouge
2 Faux Blanc
3 Faux Rose
4 Giesen 0% Sparkling Brut
5 Giesen Marl 0% Sauv Blanc
6 Giesen 0% Red Blend
7 Giesen 0% Rose
8 Giesen 0% Riesling 

Cabernet Sauvignon is a staple at the dinner table. We have some new options!
1 Silver Linings Cabernet Sauvignon
2 Duckhorn Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon
3 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon
4 BR Cohn Silver Label Sonoma

DESSERT WINES- This can be Port, Moscato, sherry or late harvest wines
1 Warre’s Otima 10 Yr Tawny Port
2 Taylor Port 750 & 1.5L
3 Grahams Six Grapes Port
4 Andre Pineapple Mimosa
5 Andre Peach Bellini
6 Andre Sweet Fizzy Sangria
7 Andre Mango Mimosa
8 Andre Strawberry Mimosa
9 M&R Asti Spumante 

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By Jayne Reed

Tags: holiday pairings