The Cheap Wine Connoisseur: Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and, hopefully, you're finalizing your festive plans. You might be going home to visit family or hosting your own Friendsgiving like me, either way, you’ll probably want some delicious adult beverages to complement your feast. Here are a couple good options that won't blow your turkey budget. Standard disclaimer: this article is meant for students who are over 21 and live off campus or have some good friends off campus who’s house you hang out at a lot. This review might be slightly longer than normal since turkey actually has a lot of pairing options, so I’ll go through a couple of good options for different parts of your meal. Instead of recommending a specific wine, we are going to review some types of wine that will pair well with different parts of your meal. Armed with this knowledge, you can go forth to the grocery store and pick something that sounds good to you!


Dark Meat Fans


Pinot Noir - Turkey has both light and dark meat, so it can easily be paired with both white and red wine. For the dark meat turkey enthusiast, Pinot is a really great wine. Since this is one of the most widely cultivated types of wine, you can also find a wide variety of decent choices at most price ranges. Good Pinot is cultivated in cold climates, which ripen the grapes slowly, allowing the maximum aroma to develop over a longer time.

I recommend this wine because it isn’t super high in tannin, which makes it a good option even if your guests aren’t huge wine fans. This wine is generally silky smooth and contains earthy fall flavors and dark fruit aromas. Because of this, it will pair well with dark meat and gravy and will compliment cinnamon, cranberry flavors, and sweet potato flavors as well.

You’ll want to serve it around room temperature (60-65 degrees), in a glass that will allow your guests to get the full effect of the aromas. Before serving, open your wine and allow it to breathe for about 30 minutes to an hour. This will open up the wine and make it much more full tasting and enjoyable.


Light Meat Fans


Riesling - This is a beautiful Germanic wine. Riesling has become a lot more popular in recent years and is pretty easy to find. Since its a German wine, it is best grown in cold climates and is usually harvested in the fall, making it thematically appropriate for your fall feasting. There are both dry and sweet versions of this wine (I would recommend a semi-dry), which often give off earthy and citric aromas. You’ll taste some light mineral flavors along with citrus fruits, honey, and lightly floral notes. This wine will pair well with spicy, salty, or sweet flavors in your Thanksgiving feast. The light flavors will also compliment potatoes and herb-filled turkey with stuffing.

Since it’s a white wine, you will want to chill this before serving. Chill to between 45-55 degrees before you pop this bottle open. If you go with a dry variety of this wine, you won’t need to let it breathe for very long before serving. If you choose a sweeter version, try letting it breathe for about 30 minutes before serving.  


Dessert Fans


Prosecco - For those who love all things sweet, you’ll want a lovely pairing. Bubbly wines like prosecco, champagne (brut or regular), or cava, act as wonderful palate cleansers. This will give you a nice segue from meal to dessert. I personally love prosecco because it’s easy to find and doesn’t cost a lot. It’s also generally a crowd favorite. Because prosecco can be made in larger batches and more can be from more than one region (although generally a cold climate), it is both softer and less expensive than champagne. It’s a very festive drink and combines citrus fruit and light flavors like peach and apple with smooth honey notes, making it an excellent cap to your festive evening.

As with all sparkling wines, you’ll want to make sure you chill your prosecco. Ideally, you’ll want to serve it between 42-45 degrees. Since it already has bubbles, you don’t need to let it breathe before serving. You can immediately open it up after it finishes chilling. While you can probably serve it in a normal wine glass if want, you can also class up the joint by serving this in champagne flutes.


Whichever wine you choose, you’ll have a wonderful compliment to a fantastic meal. Thanksgiving feasts have a little something for everyone to enjoy, just like wine tasting. Happy wine shopping and happy Thanksgiving!