16 Essential Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving

by Fred Swan - Guest Blogger

A great meal isn’t the same without delicious wine. But, with all that prep-time, family time and other hubbub, there isn’t a lot of time to ponder wine pairings for Thanksgiving—and choosing wines for such a rich and varied buffet can be a real challenge.

These 16 wines for Thanksgiving are delicious, fun and crowd-pleasing!

Sparkling Rosé

Sparkling wine is always a festive choice. The best style to match with the weight and earthy flavors of Fall meals is sparkling rosé.

  • Roederer Estate is among the finest American producers of sparkling wine. Their wines are also great values.
  • Pascal Doquet is a very fine, certified-organic producer of Champagne.
  • Are you having a really big gathering? Go magnum!


Many white wines are too light for Thanksgiving. Chardonnay can have both the body and power to hold up to rich food. And its typical flavor profile of tree fruit and citrus complement a wide range of dishes.

  • For people who like their Chardonnay on the lean side, try this Chablis from La Chablisienne. From the Premier Cru Fourchaume vineyard, it offers the taut minerality one wants from Chablis, but also plenty of body and ripeness.
  • The Sta. Rita Hills are very cool, but also very dry. This means a very long-growing season that delivers lovely ripeness and body without high alcohol. Melville is one of the best producers in that area and doesn’t use any new oak.
  • Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay is one of Australia’s most iconic wines. From a very cool region, it combines tangy freshness with bold, ripe fruit. It’s also a good choice for people who don’t mind just a little oak and butter in their Chardonnay.
  • The Durell Vineyard is tucked in a small, cool valley in southern Sonoma County. It produces wines that are full-flavored yet graceful. This Chardonnay from Auteur is fresh and shows some oak, but no butter.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir may be the best all-around wine for Thanksgiving. It’s often light-enough to appeal to white wine drinkers but still satisfies those who prefer reds. And the combination of red fruit, spice and earthiness is tremendous for the foods of fall.

  • The Resonance Vineyard has long been a source of beautiful, Oregon Pinot Noir. Burgundy powerhouse Maison Louis Jadot bought the vineyard recently and this is their first release of Willamette Valley wine with a French accent.
  • Once again, Melville delivers amazing value, luscious fruit and no new oak in their Sta. Rita Hills Pinot.
  • Green Valley of Russian River Valley is a small AVA and the coolest in Sonoma County. The resulting Pinot Noir, such as Dumol's 'Ryan' release, carries a lot of savory notes—leather, earth, dry herb and meat—all of which tie in nicely with fall flavors.
  • The Pisoni Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands is very popular with winemakers. The fruit is always impeccable and beautifully ripe without being overblown. Check out Bernardus Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir for a great example.


If you like robust red wines, Zinfandel is a great choice for Thanksgiving. Most rich reds are too tannic for turkey. Zinfandel, however, is smooth on the palate, and its full spectrum of jammy fruit is lovely with both turkey and cranberry sauce.

  • Rombauer is famous for Chardonnay, but makes very fine red wines. This lush but affordable Zinfandel comes from El Dorado (39%), Amador (35%), Lake (16%) and Napa (10%) counties.
  • Robert Biale excels at making Zinfandel from old vines in Napa Valley. The black fruit and spice in Biale's Black Chicken Vineyard Zinfandel is another excellent choice for Thanksgiving, especially for those who prefer dark meat.
  • The Starr Road Ranch release from Gamba, a Sonoma County Zinfandel specialist, is full-bodied and powerful with a broad spectrum of fruit—black, blue and red—along with vanilla, cocoa and spice from American oak.


When it’s time for dessert, why not go with wines that marry perfectly with traditional fall pies, but are equally delicious by themselves.

  • Tokaji with its sweet but juicy intensity and long-lasting flavors of tree fruit and backing spice is just the thing to go with apple and pumpkin pies. Chateau Dereszla is one of the premier producers of this Hungarian treasure.
  • If your dessert is pecan pie, rather than apple or pumpkin, this dark, rich PX Sherry from Alvear is a great match. And at nearly 90 years old, the 1927 release is as much of a treasure as Grandma's secret pie recipe!

No matter what wine you choose, the most important thing is to take time to enjoy the company of family and friends. From all of us at JJ Buckley Fine Wines, we wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Buy all of these wines and many more at jjbuckley.com! 

JJ Buckley guest blogger Fred Swan is a San Francisco-based wine writer, educator, and authority on California wines and wineries. His writing has appeared in The Tasting Panel and SOMM Journal, where he is a contributing editor. Online, he writes for his own site, FredSwan.Wine (formerly NorCalWine), PlanetGrape, and the San Francisco Wine School where he also teaches. Fred’s certifications include the WSET Diploma, Certified Sommelier, California Wine Appellation Specialist, Certified Specialist of Wine, French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Professional, Napa Valley Wine Educator and Level 3 WSET Educator. In 2009, he was awarded a fellowship by the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. In that same year, he was inducted into the Eschansonnerie des Papes, the honorary society of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC.