Best Wine Pairing with Turkey

Best Wine Pairing with Turkey


Pairing wine with turkey may seem challenging, but it doesn’t need to be as difficult as it seems. The meat’s tender flavor profile and succulent texture make it an ideal match for a large selection of grape varieties.

While tradition suggests turkey is usually paired with white wine, red drinkers need not despair. The popular meat is rather versatile and lends itself to pairing with a variety of delicious reds as well as whites.

From rich, balanced whites, to earthy and fruity reds, we’re here to advise you on the best wine with turkey combinations. Read on to discover all!

Although we don’t carry all of the wines listed, you can check out our collection and see which you may prefer.

Related: Sangiovese Wine


Key Rules

Turkey isn’t strong white meat and contains a low-fat content which is why the meat can dry out if not cooked carefully. Bearing this in mind, your wine pairings should ideally be either a full-bodied white wine or a medium-bodied red. These pairings should also feature low to medium tannin with relatively high acidity.

The challenge with pairing wine with turkey usually involves what else is served with your turkey dish. A strongly flavored roast Thanksgiving lunch or dinner served with fruity and spicy stuffing, sharp cranberry sauce, and a decent selection of vegetables means about a dozen different flavors are sitting on the plate..

This recommends a full and fruity wine that can cope with the heavy mixture of flavors. So, if you decide to go for a white or rose it’s important to pick a varietal that can manage such a load.

Choosing a wine with high acidity is especially important if you’re cooking a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey meal, for example. Think about the complexity and variety of the accompaniments to the meal as mentioned before.

It’s a lot for your palate to take on and a wine with medium to high levels of acidity should be able to cope better with this crowding of flavor. 

Generally, the spices used, and the cooking practiced can help influence what wines will pair best with a turkey dish. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the spicier the dish, the sweeter the wine should be to help level that heat. 

If you’re thinking of serving a valuable and aged bottle that you’ve been saving for a special occasion like a Thanksgiving turkey meal, this wouldn’t be advised. While it may be a delicious and venerable bottle, there’s always a chance that paired with turkey it may disappoint as the cranberry sauce in the trimmings may slaughter it.

You’ll also need to consider the guests around the table. Many special occasions that call for a roast turkey dinner – such as Thanksgiving and Christmas – tend to be multi-generational gatherings inviting older members of the family. Some of these folks may be set in their wine-drinking ways, so it’s always worth sticking to a couple of tried and tested crowd-pleasers that everyone can enjoy.

Ready to try some delicious wine, see what Cedar Creek has to offer!


Wine with Turkey

From earthy reds to sparkling white wine, let’s look at the best wine with turkey pairings.

Related: How To Drink Wine The Right Way 


Chardonnay 

You can’t go wrong with pairing a delicious Californian Chardonnay with a turkey dish.

Chardonnay’s crisp acidity, mineral undertones, and fruity flavors bring out the best that turkey offers with every sip. The oaky richness provides some sweet spicy notes, while creamy lactic acid assists meat like turkey, which can sometimes come out on the dry side.

A full-bodied Chardonnay is a great choice for a Thanksgiving or Christmas lunch, pairing well with traditional sides too such as bread sauce. The high levels of minerality and acidity help cleanse the palate to help you gorge on all those side dishes. 

Make sure to keep the gravy light though, so it doesn’t overpower the lightness of the Chardonnay. A roast turkey main course cooked with plenty of herbs would pair particularly well with a bottle of crisp Chardonnay.

Chardonnays from California often feature heavy oaky flavors that pair well with a roast turkey dinner. Keep an eye out for wines referred to as ‘oak bombs’ which refer to how buttery a Chardonnay tastes.

But it’s important to note that a heavily oaked or buttery Chardonnay can be a strong option for some wine drinkers, so to play it safe it may be a good idea to offer some other options at a big group dinner. This is especially relevant if you don’t know the wine preferences of everyone dining around the table.

The Fritz Russian River Valley Chardonnay is a recommended option, featuring pleasant spicy notes and a gentle hint of hazelnut. It pairs perfectly with the creamy side dishes served with a traditional roast turkey lunch or dinner.

Although we don’t carry this wine, you can check out our collection and see which you may prefer.

Pinot Noir

Prefer red wine? Then choosing Pinot Noir with your turkey is a no brainer.

Pinot Noir’s bright and high acidity makes it the perfect companion to drink with not only turkey meat but the selection of sides that often come with a roast turkey dinner. And for those cold turkey leftovers following Thanksgiving, a light pinot noir will do the meat justice. 

Pinot Noir isn’t just limited to pairing with a roast turkey meal, either. 

A turkey breast cooked with plenty of herbs or Marsala sauce tastes delicious with Pinot Noir, as does a turkey dish cooked in a cheesy sauce. Or a tasty turkey burger teamed with Dijon mustard and Parmesan cheese crust would make the perfect pairing with a lovely glass of Pinot Noir.

California offers juicy and fruity bottlings found in cool wine regions of the state such as in the Russian River Valley or Central Coast. Fog Dog, found in Joseph Phelps winery along the Sonoma Coast is a great option, featuring a fantastic blend of fruit with toasty oak flavorings and an earthy finish.

Ready to try some delicious wine, see what Cedar Creek has to offer!


Viognier

While Viognier may not be a white wine as popular of a variety like Chardonnay, it’s one of the best wines to pair with turkey.

Cedar Creek Ranch Winery offers a 2016 Estate Viognier that's round and fleshy, offering juicy fruit flavors and distinct floral honeyed undertones that pair well with a tender turkey dish.

If you haven’t tasted – or even heard of Viognier – Thanksgiving is an ideal time to start. Leave a bottle of Darioush Viognier 2012 originating from California’s Napa Valley and watch the bottle go down a treat among guests.

Dry Riesling

While Riesling may have a reputation of being sweet and sugary, there’s no better time to break the stereotypes by serving a bottle of fine dry Riesling on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

High in acidity and minerality, a versatile bottle of dry Riesling will pair perfectly with a turkey roast dinner and all the trimmings that come with it.

A Riesling will also pair well with any turkey dish cooked with Asian spices or with high heat – think chili, tacos, and a peppery meatloaf. Make use of the sweetness of a Riesling to play off the heat of the main course.

A popular Riesling is the Scribe 2012, produced on California’s Sonoma Coast.

Although we don’t carry this wine, you can check out our collection and see which you may prefer.

Zinfandel

Zinfandel is a favorite on the Thanksgiving table and there’s a good reason why. It’s one of the best wines to pair with turkey!

Jammy, juicy, and fruity, any decent bottle of Zinfandel teams wonderfully with a roast turkey dinner, as well as the array of traditional sides that come with it. It works especially well with turkey dinners featuring heavy sauces, such as a strong gravy. 

But it’s important to make note of the alcohol content when choosing your bottle. Zinfandels can range from lighter and lower alcohol choices to ‘booze bombs’ with high alcohol content.

Polishing off a full turkey dinner is tiring enough, and you don’t want your guests falling asleep at the table before dessert is served! Leave a couple of carefully chosen bottles on your Thanksgiving table and your guests will be grateful.

Jeff Runquist’s 2010 ‘Z’ from Massoni Ranch in California’s Amador County is a great lower alcohol option. It was awarded a gold medal at the 2012 California State Fair.

Ready to try some delicious wine, see what Cedar Creek has to offer!


Merlot

Merlot is a crowd-pleasing wine which pairs well with the traditional roast turkey dinner. However, seek out a smooth velvety bottle, rather than a heavily oaked option that may overwhelm the pairing.

Emmolo Merlot sourced from California’s Napa Valley is a delicious and fail-safe option to bring along to a special roast turkey dinner.

Although we don’t carry this wine, you can check out our collection and see which you may prefer.

Sparkling Wine

They say the best way to celebrate a special occasion is with a bottle of bubbly, and Thanksgiving is no exception. 

High in acidity, versatile, and just about as festive as it gets, sparkling wine may be one of the best choices to drink with Thanksgiving turkey. Pre-dinner, post-dinner, and every minute in between! 

It’s a favorite pairing among the Aussies who drink it with their Christmas lunch which is, of course, celebrated in high summer, after all.

Not used to serving the fizzy stuff on Thanksgiving and Christmas? If you don’t have the nerve to serve bubbly with the main meal itself, consider cracking open a bottle on the days following with turkey leftovers. Sparkling wine tastes delicious with a hot or cold turkey dish.

There’s an array of white sparkling wines that team well with any turkey meal, from the all-important Thanksgiving dinner to the cold turkey sandwich leftovers served the next day.

If you’re not sure what to choose, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Brut Cuvée 2014.

Ready to try some delicious wine, see what Cedar Creek has to offer!