Holidays, Wine Pairing

Thanksgiving Dinner Wine Pairings: Drink Local

Thanksgiving! It’s the one day of the year when wine is most likely to appear on American dinner tables. Selecting which wines will best complement your menu and appeal to your guests with individual taste preferences is always a bit challenging. But let’s get one thing straight first: There’s not a “right” or “wrong” wine to sip with your dinner. It all comes down to personal preference – but there are wines that just might be more likely to send you to sensory elation, and impress your guests.

Turkey is one of the most versatile foods to pair with wine. The white meat is light enough to handle white wines, yet flavorful enough to handle lighter more delicate reds. The dark meat can stand up to bold reds. The difficulty lies in the details. In this case, wine pairings are complicated by delicious side dishes, type of stuffing or dressing, the gravy and all the trimmings that make Thanksgiving family traditions unique.

Thanksgiving dinner is the perfect time to showcase local wines. You’re supporting small, family-owned businesses during the holidays while wowing your guests, “Why yes! Pennsylvania does make good wine!” Here are my local Pennsylvania suggestions for your Thanksgiving dinner. Click on the name of the wine to find out where you can purchase it.


WHY: The red fruit flavors mimic the tartness of cranberry sauce and match well with autumn spices such as clove, allspice, and cinnamon. Subtle earthiness complements the earthy, umami-rich flavor of gravy. Light tannin and moderate acidity pair perfectly with the texture and intensity of turkey.

2015 Pinot Noir – Blue Mountain Vineyards (New Tripoli, PA) 

This old world style Pinot Noir (think France) is light-bodied with bright fruit and soft tannins.

2014 Handmade Pinot Noir – Hackett Wine (New Tripoli, PA)

A medium bodied, soft, and easy drinking red with slightly tart, black cherry and earthy flavors.

2012 Pinot Noir, Hummels Hill Vineyard – Setter Ridge Vineyards (Kutztown, PA)

Enjoy a nose of raspberries and ripe plums followed by a fruit forward palate of cherry & dark fruits.


WHY: Sparkling wines typically carry a decent dose of acidity, which amps the pairing potential, while adding a festive flair to the table in general. Sparkling wines are completely capable of handling assorted appetizers, particularly great for fried or salty fare, and make a delicious match with turkey and dressing. The crisp effervescence manages to cut seamlessly through the rich layers found in many daring desserts.

2015 Brut Rose – Pinnacle Ridge Winery (Kutztown, PA)

The Brut Rose is produced using the traditional Methode Champenoise from 100% Pinot Noir. Crisp, dry with red fruit aromas.

2015 Blanc de Blanc – Pinnacle Ridge Winery (Kutztown, PA)

A sparkling wine made from 100% Cayuga using the traditional Methode Champenoise. This is a slightly sweet bubbly that has crowd appeal.


WHY: Though the standby white wine for many is Chardonnay, generally, the oakiness and intensity of most Chardonnays are not ideal for the Thanksgiving feast. Consider instead white wines that are refreshing, tangy, and fruity which complement the rich variety of Thanksgiving foods.

2015 Riesling, Stone Cellar GJT Vineyard –  Galen Glen Winery (Andreas, PA)

This Riesling is Alsatian styled with dried pineapple, dramatic flint stone and lemon peel flavors.

2015 Gewürztraminer, Stone Cellar – Galen Glen Winery (Andreas, PA)

Gorgeous with an exotic lychee-honeydew sweetness…lush weight on the palate, but finishes quenchingly dry in true Alsatian style.

2015 Viognier Reserve – Penns Woods Winery (Chadds Ford, PA)

This light-to-medium bodied white wine greets you with flavors of bright cantaloupe and tropical fruit. Fruit and floral flavors persist throughout the palate with a hint of minerality that enhances the finish.


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