If you’re ready to take your perfect holiday meal to the next level, spare a thought for the wine selection you offer. A holiday like Thanksgiving affords lots of opportunities to try different pairings with a cavalcade of dishes like roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie.
There are plenty of traditional wine pairings for each of those dishes, and we highlight quite a few in this article, but have you given any thought to a roast turkey paired with a Zinfandel? Or what about greens with a Txakolina? Whether you’re looking for classic choices or unexpected pairings, there is a wine for you.
Turkey Wine Pairing
Classic Wine Pairing: Burgundian Pinot Noir
The red cherry, earthy, forest floor, and mushroom aromas of Pinot Noir beautifully complement the roast turkey. Pinot Noir is light and refreshing on the palate, enhancing every hearty bite of turkey.
Unexpected Wine Pairing: Zinfandel
California Zinfandels are an excellent choice for a wine pairing with turkey. Typically, we see cool climate grape varieties paired with turkey, while Zinfandel is a warm climate grape variety. The fruity aromas and ripe palate beautifully balance out the savoriness of the turkey. Zinfandel wines from California express aromas of raspberry, blackberry, and baking spices on the nose. Younger Zinfandel wines are quite ripe on the palate with a little residual sugar. They add a nice touch of sweetness that is complementary to the roast turkey, similar to the effect of cranberry sauce!
Starchy Holiday Sides Wine Pairing
Classic Wine Pairing: Chablis
Mashed potatoes, stuffing, dressing, and fresh bread all pair beautifully with Chablis. This Chardonnay offers freshness and notes of lemon, apple, and pear, and the delicate minerality of Chablis evens out the creamy heartiness of these sides.
Unexpected Wine Pairing: Champagne
Champagne is an excellent wine pairing for all food. It’s particularly great with starchy sides. Aromas of brioche and toast on the nose and freshness on the palate make Champagne an excellent choice for sides like mashed potatoes and stuffing. The aromas are complementary. There is always an excuse to pop open a bottle of Champagne, especially during the holidays!
Sweet Holiday Sides Wine Pairing
Classic Wine Pairing: Off-Dry Mosel Riesling
Sweet holiday sides like roasted butternut squash, sweet potato casserole, and candied yams all need a wine that can match and enhance their sweetness. An off-dry Mosel Riesling with notes of lime, apple, and jasmine offers some lovely freshness on the palate while matching in sweetness level. Riesling is an excellent pairing for slightly sweet holiday sides.
Unexpected Wine Pairing: Lambrusco
Lambrusco is a red sparkling wine from Emilia-Romagna in Italy. An off-dry Lambrusco would be an excellent choice as a wine pairing for slightly sweet holiday sides. Aromas of jammy raspberry and allspice would beautifully complement sides with notes of cinnamon and baking spices, as you typically see in holiday squash and sweet potato casserole recipes. Lambrusco is a unique and exciting wine pairing!
Green Holiday Sides Wine Pairing
Classic Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc wines elevate the lovely vegetal aromatic characteristics of green beans and Brussels sprouts. Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc wines are crisp with aromas of lemon, elderflower, and fresh-cut grass. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wines have riper fruit aromas and express a more robust vegetal quality on the nose. Both options are the perfect complement to green holiday sides!
Unexpected Wine Pairing: Txakolina
From Basque Country, Txakolina is dry, fresh, and lightly effervescent. With aromas of grapefruit and honeysuckle, it offers some beautiful freshness to pair with your green, vegetal sides. Traditionally, sommeliers high pour Txakolina to aerate the wine and preserve its bubbles. It’s a fun wine to uncork during the holidays and an excellent pairing for green holiday sides.
Pumpkin Pie Wine Pairing
Classic Wine Pairing: Sauternes
Sauternes is an excellent dessert wine from Bordeaux and pumpkin pie is a great food pairing for Sauternes. The sweetness of Sauternes wines balances out the delicate sweetness of pumpkin pies. Young Sauternes wines express notes of tropical fruits, citrus, and almond. Aged Sauternes wines also express notes of caramel and hazelnut. The holidays are an excellent time to uncork those Sauternes that you’ve been aging in your cellar.
Unexpected Wine Pairing: Sicilian Passito di Pantelleria
Passito di Pantelleria wines hail from Sicily and are made from raisonated grapes. The perfumed aromas of candied apricots, honey, and vanilla would beautifully complement the creamy, spicy notes of pumpkin pie. Passito di Pantelleria wines are incredibly exceptional if you can get your hands on one for the holidays and if you have one in your cellar, uncork it for your dessert wine pairing!
Whether you prefer classic wine pairings or unexpected choices, you can pair with your holiday dinner a wide range of excellent wines. Choose wines that suit your personal preferences and excite you! Happy holidays!
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