Best Types of Wine Perfect for Pairing With Turkey

Karen Frazier
Wine with turkey

There's a wine to pair with virtually any food, including turkey. Pairing wine and turkey is a matter of personal preference, but certain pairings will enhance the flavor profiles of both the wine and the turkey. While many people specifically seek wine pairings with turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, these wines will taste great with turkey any time of the year.

Pair Bold or Aromatic White Wines With Turkey

Boldly flavored white wines, such as a white Burgundy, make the ideal pairing for turkey. Turkey has a strong, earthy flavor that goes quite well with a number of white wines.

Chardonnay and White Burgundy

Chardonnay comes in a variety of styles, and it pairs incredibly well with turkey other poultry. For example,

  • A powerful, okay Chardonnay from Napa Valley has strong toasty vanilla notes that complement the flavors of a roasted or smoked turkey.
  • Chablis from Burgundy, France has a crisp, lean flavor profile that goes especially well with turkey breast and dishes such as turkey tetrazzini or other creamy turkey dishes. The crisp notes of Chablis will cut through the creamy notes of the dish.
  • Citrusy white Burgundy from regions such as Montrachet pairs well with any number of turkey dishes.
  • Buttery Meursault from Burgundy works well with rich turkey dishes or roasted turkey.

Riesling or Gewürztraminer

The crisp acidity of the two German powerhouse white wines, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, are an especially delicious pairing with spicy turkey dishes such as turkey chili, tacos, burgers, or meatloaf. Other countries also produce these two wines, but they tend to lack the zippy acidity of the German variations, so the pairing isn't quite as successful but still pretty darn good.

Sauvignon Blanc

With herbaceous and grassy notes, Saugvignon Blanc wine (particularly from New Zealand) is the perfect foil for lighter turkey dishes, such as poached turkey breast or a turkey roasted with herbs.

Torrontés

Torrontés has a distinctly fruity flavor profile, moderate acidity and great aromatics. This light-bodied Argentinian white wine is growing in popularity around the world, and it's the perfect foil for turkey. Try it with a summer salad with turkey or an acidic turkey dish such as turkey piccata.

Albariño

Albariño is a Spanish aromatic white wine that has moderate acidity and a flavor profile similar to Torrontés. Therefore, it pairs well with turkey in much the same way Torrontés will.

Enjoy Sparkling Wines With Turkey

Sparkling wines pair well with many foods, including turkey. Often used as an apéritif, sparkling wine goes seamlessly from pre-dinner to dinner, especially with poultry such as turkey or chicken. These are especially good for meals with lots of fixings, such as Thanksgiving dinner, but they can make even an average weekday meal seem special.

Champagne

French Champagne is always a good choice - whether you're serving turkey or pancakes (mimosas anyone?). With toasty biscuit flavors and beautiful bubbles, it's delicious with turkey dinners of all stripes, but it's especially good with roasted turkey.

Prosecco

The bubbles in Prosecco are finer than those in Champagne thanks to a different way of making the sparkling wine, but this Italian sparkling wine ranges from dry to sweet, and it often has crisp flavor profiles that go especially well with lighter flavors such as herbed turkey breast.

Moscato d'Asti

This semi-sweet, semi-sparkling Italian wine made from the Moscato grape (Muscat) is light and fizzy with flavors of apricots and almonds. Its light aromas won't overwhelm the delicate flavors of turkey breast. It's a great wine for people who don't love wine, so it's a good one to offer at gatherings where turkey is on the menu and you've invited guests who aren't necessarily wine lovers.

Serve Crisp Rosé Wines

If you don't prefer a bold or aromatic white or sparkling wine with your turkey, opt for a crisp rosé which will also pair well with a variety of turkey dishes.

Rosé of Pinot Noir

A crisp, dry rosé of Pinot Noir is a fragrant and delicate coupling for roasted or grilled turkey. It will have a lighter version of Pinot Noir's characteristic aromatic nose and earthy notes, so it's also delicious with a turkey and mushroom dish, such as ground turkey stroganoff.

Rosé of Grenache

A rosé of Grenache (in America, sometimes a blush wine called White Grenache) has slightly smoky, spicy, fruity flavors balanced with a delicate and light acidity. Try it with smoked turkey or dishes that have turkey bacon, such as pasta carbonara.

Rosé of Provence

Provençal rosé has become the standard for classic French rosé, and it's easy to see why. These crisp, light wines are beautiful with a poultry dish that has light flavors, such as turkey breast poached with white wine and herbs.

White Zinfandel

White Zinfandel is a distinctly American phenomenon, so this is a great rosé to serve with an American Thanksgiving feast. It's a lighter version of spicy Zinfandel with some of the spice still present, so it's tasty with spicy turkey dishes or those with an Asian flavor profile.

Try Light or Fruity Reds With Turkey

Light-bodied or fruity reds are also yummy with turkey, particularly roasted or smoked turkey or dark meat.

Pinotage

Pinotage is a dark red made from a black-skinned South African grape with deep fruit and bold flavors that go well with barbecued or smoked dark meat turkey. You'll find flavors of tea, tobacco, and raspberry in this utterly delicious wine. Pinotage is also good with deeply spiced turkey dishes (such as hoisin glazed turkey) or turkey dishes made with chili peppers, such as peri peri turkey. Yum!

Rioja or Tempranillo

Rioja is a Spanish red made from the Tempranillo gape in Spain's Rioja region. You'll also find Tempranillo wines from Ribera del Duero in Spain, as well as in varietals from other countries around the world. It's an earthy, fruity red with notes of cherries and leather. It's the perfect foil for smoked, roasted, or grilled turkey.

Beaujolais Nouveau

Light and fruity Beaujolais Nouveau is made from the Gamay grape. Unlike other red wines, the goal with Beaujolais Nouveau is to drink it fresh, so it's light and fruity in a way that other reds aren't. Because it's released the third Thursday of November, it's a popular Thanksgiving wine, and it pairs quite well with Thanksgiving turkey.

Pinot Noir or Burgundy

Pinot Noir both from the Burgundy region in France and other places around the world (particularly Sonoma and Oregon's Willamette Valley) is a wonderful wine to serve with heavier turkey dishes, such as roasted turkey, grilled turkey, and smoked turkey. Pinot Noir from Burgundy (also called Bourgogne) is nuanced, light, and finessed while Pinot Noir from New World regions such as Oregon or Sonoma tends to be lusher and fruitier with bolder flavors and a hint of earthiness.

Grenache

Smoky, earthy Grenache (along with Spanish Garnacha wines such as Priorat) have flavors of dark fruits and tobacco along with hints of oak and smoke. These wines are superb with turkey because they don't overpower but do complement it. This is a great wine to serve with full Thanksgiving dinner, but it's also delicious with smoked turkey legs.

Rhône Blends

Rhône wine blends have a variety of grapes, but they tend to be a combination of earthy, spicy, fruity, and smoky with light to bold flavors. Some Rhône wines and the turkey dishes they complement:

  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape hails from the Southern Rhône and heavily features Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. It's often smoky and fruity with complex flavors that go well with a roasted turkey with all of the fixings.
  • Côtes du Rhône, another red blend from the Southern Rhône, tends to be less expensive than Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but it has many similar characteristics and flavor profiles that allow it to hold up well to a full roast turkey dinner.
  • Côte-Rôtie may seem like an unconventional choice, but the Syrah is blended with up to 20% aromatic Viognier which lightens Syrah's deep depths and brings aromatics and fruit forward. The concentrated fruits and aromatic nose make this a delightful pairing for roasted or smoked turkey.

Pairing Wines With Your Turkey

The above wines are both conventional and unconventional choices for pairing with turkey. How successful the pairing is depends on your palate, what you're serving, and the wine itself. Therefore, feel free to experiment and try wines that appeal to you with turkey dishes. You're sure to find a favorite pairing to suit your palate.

Best Types of Wine Perfect for Pairing With Turkey