7 Best Wine and Turkey Pairings

7 Best Wine and Turkey Pairings

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines


A classic roast turkey

The nuances matter when pairing turkey with wine.

Turkey is a flavorful meat that pairs easily and wonderfully with a wide variety of wines. Depending on how you prepare your turkey and what flavors you add to the meat, gravy, and stuffing, you have many options for intriguing and delicious wine and turkey pairings. 

Turkey is practically synonymous with Thanksgiving, a holiday that brings a wide palette of foods with diverse taste profiles. Thus, oftentimes pairing wine and turkey means pairing wine with other flavors and textures ranging from crunchy greens to soft and sweet potatoes.

All that said, our suggestions will focus on Thanksgiving wine and turkey, with a special consideration on preparation methods.

Tips for Pairing Wine with Turkey:

Curating a selection is better than limiting choices.

  • When it comes to pairing wine and turkey, it is better to curate a selection rather than restrict a pairing. You are dealing with a large bird with parts that are very different from one another; a juicy breast cut will not taste the same as a piece of roasted dark meat. 
  • Easy reds are an obvious choice of wine pairing, but there is always room for more creative wine and turkey pairings.
  • How you prepare your turkey will dictate the choice of wine pairing.

Wine and turkey pairings

1. Pinot Noir

You cannot go wrong with this choice when served alongside a classic, roasted turkey with a side of gravy. Pinot Noir is an incredibly versatile wine. You can select a New World Pinot Noir for a lighter, fruit-forward profile with wines from Oregon, California, Argentina, or another region of the Americas. Or you might prefer an old world Pinot Noir selection from France's Burgundy region, or even a German Spatburgunder.

2. Chardonnay

Another obvious choice for wine pairing with turkey, Chardonnay is ideal for a classic roasted bird. It will complement a variety of flavors, such as the herb notes used in basting. Needless to say, Chardonnay is a grape that boasts abundant variety. The oaky notes of a California Chardonnay will bring out more complex flavors and textures from the turkey, while a fruity and crisp French Chardonnay such as Chablis or Burgundy offers a more delicate mouthfeel. Regardless of your choice of Chardonnay, the acidity and fruitiness are constants that make for an excellent pairing with your turkey. 

3. Champagne

It should be no surprise that this classic, bubbly drink makes the list. A mainstay drink for celebrations, Champagne is an excellent wine to pair with turkey. It contains high acidity, which pairs well with traditional Thanksgiving flavors and can be drunk throughout the meal—even during dessert. 

Champagne pairs especially well with a deep-fried turkey as it offsets the crunch of the skin and is great at bringing out the grassy, herbal flavors of the bird. Plus, there's nothing like a bubbly wine pairing with a large meal to celebrate a special occasion with family and friends.

4. Riesling

A dry, German Riesling is an outstanding choice for a Thanksgiving wine and turkey pairing. The wine pairs especially well with smoked turkey and spicier, herbier flavors. However, a dry Riesling also pairs splendidly with sweeter items such as sweet potatoes. If you would like to emphasize your turkey’s carefully added, detailed and rich flavors, Riesling is the way to go. The drink’s high acidity and minerality add a delicious touch to the turkey while keeping your taste buds soothed and comfortable.

5. Beaujolais

Another popular choice for Thanksgiving turkey, this wine brings an assortment of pairing variations. For a trendier choice look no further than a Cru Beaujolais. This young wine is light and high in acidity, making for a distinct and enjoyable wine and turkey pairing. 

For a classic and popular choice, a Beaujolais Nouveau will not disappoint. This light and fruity variation of the wine will complement the turkey, and the drink’s low alcoholic content will effortlessly highlight sweeter flavors. Choose this wine and turkey pairing if you'd like to keep your meal light. 

6. Sangiovese 

While not a classic a go-to wine like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, Sangiovese can be an excellent choice for pairing with turkey. Its subtly spicy flare helps bring out more unique, savory flavors in your turkey preparation. Pick a Sangiovese to emphasize vibrant fruit flavors without overpowering other tastes. Because it is not as noticeably oaky as some other reds, a young Sangiovese with fresh, fruity flavors makes an excellent choice.

7. Zinfandel 

This wine variety pairs exceptionally well with turkey. Zinfandel's fruit profile and body pairs well with both dark and light turkey cuts. The drink is the perfect choice of wine if you would like to go for a red with more oomph than Pinot Noir. It is best when paired with heavier meals and dishes. 

Conclusion

No matter how you prepare your turkey, you can always bring out the best flavors and highlight interesting textures with the right wine pairing. JJ Buckley Fine Wine has a highly curated wine selection for you to choose from. Regardless of your pairing needs, our selection is guaranteed to have just the right wine to perfectly complement your next Thanksgiving meal.


If you are unsure about what wine pairing you would like, or simply want to expand your wine collection, take advantage of JJ Buckley’s consultancy services. We offer:

  • Knowledgeable Wine Specialists to provide you with highly personalized recommendations
  • Assistance in helping you build and expand your wine collection
  • Tailored recommendations to your wine preferences and selections
  • Answers to your questions on wine pairings, tasting notes, and wine reviews 
  • Exclusive offers on the world’s best wines

Look through our wine collection and contact us today to find the perfect wine for all your pairing needs!