Thanksgiving Wine Recs by Dish

Find the right wine for your Thanksgiving Dinner
It’s okay, be selfish this year and choose the wine that goes with your favorite dish. Or get them all and have a grand pairing party.


Most Thanksgiving wine pairing articles focus on what wine to pair with the entire meal… which is fine. But most people have a favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner and it isn’t always the turkey. So why focus on everything when you can focus on your favorite thing?

With that in mind, I decided to ask Jim Compton of J. Emerson for a little bit of help. I threw out some key Thanksgiving dishes and he gave me wine pairing suggestions. So go ahead, be selfish, and get the right pairing for your favorite dish. Get a bottle to share and a bottle for yourself if you want. I won’t judge.

If you want to taste some top Thanksgiving wine picks in person you’ve got a chance this Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. at J. Emerson’s 11th Annual Wines of Thanksgiving Tasting. Go stock up for the big day! A feast isn’t a feast without the right libation.

Without further ado, dishes and Jim’s pairing suggestions:

No food. What should I drink to get blitzed before my family shows up? Maybe I’ll share… or maybe not.

“Gin, beer,  but not wine. When I was a child, I thought it would be great to have just butter with no bread. After all, with bread, butter was absolutely delicious.  But, I discovered butter without bread was terrible; it needed a companion to make it shine. Wine is at its best accompanied by food, it’s not a cocktail.  But, if you must have wine without food, buy the heavily manipulated red blends from California. With their additives and technical manipulation they are a  smooth, characterless alcohol delivery system. Look for cute names and it’s better if there is no vintage listed. Don’t pay more than $20.”

Appetizers. Forget the main event, I’m planning to fill up on cheese, crackers and cocktail shrimp galore!

“Sancerre,  which yields Sauvignon blanc, raised in Kimmeridgian limestone on the banks of the Loire River or, some other crispy wine. Appetizers come in all shapes, sizes and tastes; spicy, savory etc. Crispy wines do best with a wide range of foods, especially spicy cocktail sauce.”

Turkey. What will help me get that juicy bird down on my way to a Tryptophan coma?

“This is the time for great red Burgundy . Premier Cru Pinot Noir from the Côte-d’Or with some bottle age. A touch of earth and red fruit with extra weight from the Premier. And give thanks that you live in the time of great Burgundy vintages.”

Stuffing, mashed potatoes, and glorious pools of gravy heaven.

“Viognier from Virginia. Damn if we don’t raise some great viognier–viscous, rich and full-bodied but balanced with food friendly acidity. And the price is usually competitive with its Old World cousins.”

Sweet potato casserole a.k.a. I’m pretending to eat dinner but really eating dessert twice.

“Riesling, German Riesling. A touch of sweetness with refreshing, lip-smacking acidity. Oh, and get a Spätlese (a slightly later harvest) and be the coolest kid on the block.”

Green bean casserole–it pretty much only shows up once a year so I load up

“No human being should be compelled to eat green bean casserole.”

Pie, glorious pie

“Sauterne or its lighter cousin Loupiac. Both are technically from the Bordeaux region of France. These fresh, sweeter wines with a touch of acid on the finish marry perfectly with all types of crusted pies.”

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