I need advice on Thanksgiving wines. Which wines pair best with turkey and sides?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I need advice on Thanksgiving wines. Which wines pair best with turkey and sides?

—Becky, Napa, Calif.

Dear Becky,

Great question! Turkey is a pretty mild protein, so it goes with just about any wine you like. The Thanksgiving wine-pairing challenge is the side dishes, which can range from sweet potatoes to tart cranberries to spicy sausage stuffing (at least at my table).

My best advice is to pick wines that are famously food-friendly, and avoid anything overly tannic, overly acidic or overly oaky. On the red side, Grenache, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel are popular choices for good reason, as is Beaujolais. And for white wines, Riesling (dry or off-dry), Viognier and Chenin Blanc are smart picks.

And don’t forget the versatility of sparkling wines! Bubbly is a can’t-miss pairing with the Thanksgiving spread.

But one of the best Thanksgiving wine pairings I’ve had didn’t follow my own advice. I brought a bottle of dessert wine from Bordeaux, a Sauternes. It was rich and spicy with fresh acidity, and I found it the perfect match for the rich sides (and it gave the grilled turkey a little extra oomph as a pairing). The most important thing about food-and-wine pairing is the company you’re going to enjoy the wines with.

And for more Thanksgiving wine picks, check out our 2022 Thanksgiving Tasting Highlights!

—Dr. Vinny

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