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10 Outstanding Wines With Turkey

November 25, 2014 Blog » Wine Tips & Tricks » 10 Outstanding Wines With Turkey

This year’s best Thanksgiving wines take into consideration that not all turkey dinners are made equal. Here are ten wines that pair well with turkey based on how it’s prepared.

Wines with turkey

TIP: The wines listed below focus primarily on red fruit flavors which typically pair well with harvest foods and poultry.

Wine for a perfectly baked turkey…

A perfectly prepped turkey is truly a revelation. Consider yourself lucky. Now, all you need is the right wine to sip alongside of it.

Spanish Garnacha

Expect to spend: $9–15

Garnacha might just be the unsung wine of Thanksgiving. It has loads of red fruit flavors in the realm of strawberry, raspberry and candied hibiscus as well as a distinct dusty quality. When matched with turkey and gravy, Garnacha falls nicely into the role of the cranberry sauce.

Cru Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages

Expect to spend: $15–25

Beaujolais was awesome in 2009 and then again in 2013. Seek out one of the 10 Crus (you can learn more about Beaujolais Crus here) or a Beaujolais-Villages level wine. Beaujolais is bone-dry and somewhat herbaceous with floral notes of violet, peony and iris. In terms of fruit flavors, expect tart and fresh fruit flavors of boysenberry, sour cherry and cranberry. You’ll be spending so much time with your nose in a glass, that you won’t overdo it with the stuffing. By the way, Beaujolais is low alcohol… and low calorie.


Expect to spend: $9–15

Carignan went from being a lowly blending grape to making a name for itself from the Languedoc-Roussillon. The wines are bursting with red fruit flavors, cinnamon spice and a distinct meaty note, almost like a kielbasa sausage. Because of its meatiness, it makes an amazing pairing with dark meat. The spice flavors of cinnamon and allspice in the wine will also make a simple mashed sweet potato dish come to life.

TIP: Look for ‘old vine’ Carignan from the Cotes Catalanes and Roussillon, France.

Pinot Noir

Expect to spend: $15–30

Pinot Noir is the darling choice for poultry as a light red wine. Since the US just had 2 awesome vintages in a row (2012–2013), you’ll luck out on value Pinot Noir this year. For lighter, more delicate styles, seek out Oregon Pinot Noir. For richer Pinot Noir, look into California, Chile and Patagonia, Argentina.

Wine for an overly dry turkey…

A dry turkey is the bane of many a Thanksgiving, but sometimes there’s not much to do about it. If this sounds like it could be your situation, here are a few wines that you can rely on to moisten even the driest turkey:

Brachetto d’Acqui

Expect to spend: $16–20

Think of Brachetto d’Acqui like a boozy version of Martenelli’s apple cider, but better. It has perfumed aromas of raspberry, orange blossom and candied citrus with moderately high acidity and light bubbles. It’s a low alcohol, sweet red sparkling wine (about as much octane as an IPA) so you can literally suck it down after every bite.

Ditch your customary wine glass and drink Brachetto out of something that was popular when the wine was drunk in the House of Savoy:
savoy house wine glass style

Dry American Rosé

Expect to spend: $9–12

Quite a large number of American Rosé wine is made with a method called ‘Saignée’, where about 10% of the juice of red wine is drained off (before it gets too red) to make Rosé. The resulting wine is rich, like a red, with bold fruit flavors but super juicy. Juicy enough for even the driest slice of white meat…

Wine for a smoked turkey

A smoked turkey is a beautiful thing, especially when it just comes already prepared and you don’t have to do any work. The flavors are rich and somewhat sweet. You’ll need a stronger wine to hold up to a smoked turkey.

Red Rhône Blend

Expect to spend: $15-25

The combination of 3 varieties, –Grenache, Syrah and Mourvédre,– make up the blend. Because of the mishmash of varieties, you’ll taste both red and black fruit flavors and find a range of medium to full-bodied flavor. These wines are a perfect match for a rich piece of meat because of their complexity. And yet, they are still light enough for poultry.

TIP: looking for a great Rhône wine? Check out this recent post for a wine inspiration list.

Red Zinfandel

Expect to spend: $15–25

Zinfandel is the classic turkey pairing wine for 2 reasons: for one, it’s a variety with a long history in America and two, the flavors of raspberry and sweet tobacco are an ideal match for rich darker or smoked turkey meat. It also will do great alongside a honeybaked ham. Zinfandel tends to be much more fruit-forward which is why is does well with sweet meat. The best Zinfandels generally hail from these 5 regions: Sonoma, Napa, Lodi, Santa Barbara and the Sierra Foothills.

TIP: When seeking out a red Zinfandel, make note that a higher alcohol level will indicate a much richer style.


Expect to spend: $15–25

Love bone-dry savory wines? From Tuscany and Umbria, Sangiovese-based wines have notes of tomato, cherry and leather along with an earthy note of terra-cotta. Expect tingling acidity and moderately high tannin that will compliment homemade gravy like a dream. The original Sangiovese wines were very rarely aged in oak which means they’ll be anything but a vanilla bomb. In short, they are a savory wine lover’s dream.

The 2010 vintage was awesome for Sangiovese.

Wine for a fried turkey

If you’re deep frying a whole turkey do it outside, so that if it lights up on fire, you have something to be thankful for.

Sparkling Wine

Expect to spend: $9–26

Fried food needs something with high acidity to cut the fat and salt. The ideal answer to this is something sparkling. On the cheap, seek out a sparkling Crémant rosé from France, a Cava from Spain or a sparkling rosé of Malbec from Argentina. Cava will definitely offer the greatest value, ringing in just under $10 a bottle. If you’re willing to spend a little more, American sparkling rosés are typically made with Pinot Noir and taste of strawberries and white cherries matched with a creamy bubble finesse. Look to Sonoma and Mendocino for answers to your American bubbly questions.

Wine for a no-meat turkey

Thanksgiving wines for 2014
Yep, a growing number of us are opting for something in the realm of tofurkey. Fortunately, many of these meat-free alternatives have a lot of similar taste profiles to turkey. Our recommendation would be to focus on the spices used in your dishes and find wines with matching spices.

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By Madeline Puckette
I'm a certified wine geek with a passion for meeting people, travel, and delicious food. You often find me crawling around dank cellars or frolicking through vineyards. Find me at @WineFolly