What are the best wines for Thanksgiving to go with turkey and with ham?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What are the best wines for Thanksgiving to go with turkey and with ham?

—Debra H., Sanford, Fla.

Dear Debra,

I’m excited to get this question, because it means that Thanksgiving is around the corner. And of all things that can be around the corner, Thanksgiving is perhaps my favorite one.

Usually when I give advice about Thanksgiving dinner, I say that you can throw the turkey out of the equation, since turkey is pretty neutral and goes with nearly any wine. Instead, you need to find wines that will pair well with a complicated array of side dishes. Many traditional holiday sides can have a sweet component to them, such as cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and even stuffing with dried fruit or apples. A Thanksgiving wine needs to be versatile enough to go with any of these sides, and I have to assume there is a green bean casserole in the mix.

But ham, you say? Ham narrows the focus a little bit more. I love Riesling and Gewürztraminer with ham, and those would typically pair well with the sides, too. On the red side, I’d continue to stick with soft and fruity examples of Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Grenache. And don’t forget the bubbly, which goes with just about everything.

—Dr. Vinny

Pairings Holidays / Celebrations Thanksgiving Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Does food cooked with wine taste like wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why wine is such a popular recipe ingredient.

Nov 22, 2021

My basement wine cellar flooded. Are my wines ruined?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, explains what to watch for when a wine …

Nov 15, 2021

Are sulfates and sulfites in wine the same thing?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the difference between chemical compounds …

Nov 8, 2021

What does it mean to say a wine is "full-bodied"?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how we talk about a wine's structure and "body."

Nov 1, 2021

Is it OK to store wine in Styrofoam shipping containers?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, explains the pros and cons of storing …

Oct 25, 2021

What are biodynamic wine grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains some of the farming principles applied to …

Oct 18, 2021