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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

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