If you find picking out wine to be an intimidating process, selecting bottles to serve at Thanksgiving can seem like the ultimate challenge. Between hosting guests with a variety of preferences and attempting to find pairings that will compliment turkey plus a plethora of sides, it’s understandably a bit difficult to go about choosing wines for the holiday. To help those in need of a little guidance, we reached out to Meghan Hardgrove, General Manager and Sommelier at retail wine bar Wine on High in Columbus, Ohio, for some expert advice. Here, she shares six red and white options to serve alongside appetizers, dinner, and dessert.
What to pair with appetizers: When it comes to appetizers on Thanksgiving (or at any gathering, really), there’s usually cheese involved, often in the form of a beautiful board featuring creamy, salty, and spicy options. Taking this into consideration, Hardgrove suggests a lightly sweet Gewürztraminer from France or Oregon to offer white wine drinkers. “It has a good balance of acidity, so it’s going to cut through the saltiness, and it’ll cut through the fat to make cheeses seem creamier as well,” she says, noting that it will also pair well with fresh fruit. For a red pairing, Hardgrove recommends a medium-bodied dry Beaujolais. “It has nice notes of cherry and a softness that will also go very well with cheese,” she says of the French red.
What to drink with the main course: Thanks to the abundance of side dishes, there’s quite a range of wines you can select from to pair with Thanksgiving dinner, Hardgrove says. For red wine drinkers, she suggests a medium-bodied pinot noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, which she says has a bright Bing cherry note as well as a forest floor mushroom quality, making it a good pairing with cranberry sauce and gravy. “You can get a great bottle for $18, so it’s a budget-friendly pick,” she adds. For a white to serve with dinner, Hardgrove recommends a medium-oak California Chardonnay. “It’ll go nicely with all the buttery sides, like green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, and buttery rolls,” she says.
What to serve with dessert: When picking a dessert wine pairing, bear in mind that the wine must be sweeter than the dessert, Hardgrove says—otherwise it’ll come across as bitter. Her picks for the final course include port, which will hold up nicely to pumpkin pie or chocolate thanks to its high residual sugar and flavors of caramel and toasted walnut. For a lighter option, Hardgrove recommends Prosecco or a sparkling Brut Rosé, which she says has fresh fruit notes that will marry well with apple pies or anything with a caramel quality.