Experts Share Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations

Do you ever wonder what experts serve to their guests at the holiday table?

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits shared Thanksgiving wine trends and pairing recommendations from some of the company’s top Master Sommeliers® and wine experts. Southern Glazer’s has more certified wine experts than any other North American wine and spirits distributor. Its employees have successfully completed more than 3,500 wine, sake and spirits education programs, from introductory to master-level achievements.

The personal recommendations range from festive Prosecco to new style California wines and varieties that best pair with the most popular seasonal foods.

The Charm of Prosecco

Pull out the Prosecco said Matthew Citriglia, Master Sommelier – Director of Wine Education – Florida.

Matt Citrigilia
Matthew Citrigilia

“My go to Thanksgiving Day wine is Prosecco. This aromatic, frothy Italian fizz has a festive feel and is quite versatile in its use. Start the morning prep with an Extra Dry Prosecco mixed into a classic Bellini, Mimosa, or Champagne cocktail. Roll it right into brunch with baked eggs, spicy sausage and sticky buns.  The soft bubbles and slight sweetness will help the brunch flavors pop. Then step it up to a brut style Prosecco from the Veneto quality region of Conegliano Valdobbiadene for the main turkey feast and fixings. This dry style with its floral fragrance, fruit intensity and mild tartness refreshes the palate and compliments everything from the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and more. Many wines would fail against such diverse flavors and textures, but Prosecco’s charm shines through with every sip.”

Riesling’s Secret Weapon

Reach for Riesling added Kathryn Morgan, Master Sommelier – Director of Wine Education – New York

Kathy Morgan
Kathryn Morgan

“All sommeliers love Riesling.  While many Rieslings are actually dry, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reach for one with a touch of sweetness.  Most cranberry sauce and sweet potato recipes contain enough sugar to make any dry wine strike a sour chord, but a German Kabinett or similar style from New York’s Finger Lakes region or Washington’s Columbia Valley will harmonize beautifully with these flavors.  And Riesling has another secret weapon for your more savory plates – high acidity that will cut through richness and even mitigate saltiness.  It’s the best all-rounder around. Pinot Noir’s silky texture makes it a classic red wine match with birds of every feather.  New World versions from Oregon and California have plenty of ripe, red fruit and hints of fresh, herbal flavors that will compliment everything from cranberries to the sage in your stuffing.  Lately, I have been particularly impressed with Pinot Noirs from Australia’s cooler climate regions, such as the Yarra Valley, as well.” 

California’s New Wave

Evolving California wine styles are making waves said Eric Hemer, Master Sommelier, Master of Wine, Certified Wine Educator, and Senior Vice President and Corporate Director of Wine Education for Southern Glazer’s

Eric Hemer
Eric Hemer

“More new style California wines are coming across my radar than ever before, a trend that started around 2009 that continues to gain steam. The watchword is balance. California has always had a reputation for wines with exuberant fruit, higher alcohol and loads of new oak, but this new wave of styles promotes brighter acidity, lower alcohol, less new oak and a subtlety that used to be the hallmark of European wines. The end result are wines that tend towards the lean side and work with food wonderfully. As California wine styles continue to evolve, this new wave of wines brings about an expanding perspective as to what the Golden State can produce, and it is pretty exciting to witness.”

Choose Crowd Pleasers

Take cues from your menu said Brian Bauer, Certified Wine Educator – Director of Wine Education – Midwest

Brian Bauer

“The rich aromas that fill the house during Thanksgiving give me the clues as to which wines to pair with the feast. Rosé d’Anjou is a perfect wine for entertaining.  Its fresh aromas of raspberry and rose petals lead to bright red fruits reminiscent of strawberries and cranberry sauce.  The finish is lightly sweet balanced by refreshing acidity. My choice for a red takes me to the wonderfully versatile Dolcetto d’Alba.  Its aromas are fresh and perfumed which perfectly complements the oven roasted fare on the table. In the mouth it shows fleshy fruit balanced by earthy flavors and sometimes a hint of mint.  I like to serve it with a slight chill which helps to soften a slight bitterness in the finish. The versatility and crowd-pleasing quality of these two wines make them a sure hit for Thanksgiving.”

Be Mature

It’s time for older treasures offered Eric Entrikin, Master Sommelier – Director of Wine Education – California

Eric Entrikin
Eric Entrikin

“As we move into the holiday season and accompanying meals, I think of elements like mushrooms, root vegetables and savory stocks. It is a great time of year to drink older treasures from your cellar. My go-to for a dinner so full of umami flavors is usually Red Burgundy from the Cotes de Beaune; Volnay, Santenay or an earthy Chassagne-Montrachet. I’ve also had some great pairings with mature Oregon or California Pinot Noir, Cru Beaujolais, northern Rhône appellations, and lighter vintages of Barolo and Barbaresco. The slow cooking, roasting, simmering, reduction of flavors and earthy tones that go into the Thanksgiving meal all set the stage for the complex, earthy and subtle red fruit character that these wines display after several years of age.”

Consistency is Key

Red and white are both alright said Guy Noel Stout, Master Sommelier – Director of Wine Education – Texas

Guy Noel
Guy Noel

“My family serves roasted or smoked turkey with cornbread dressing and honey baked ham with all of the traditional side dishes, plus a selection of pies for dessert. The wines change each year, but the styles remain consistent. Light and fruity white wine goes so well with the sage and poultry seasoning we use in the dressing and the roasted elements of the turkey. I traditionally serve German Mosel Kabinett Rieslings from Piesport and Bernkastel, wines with a juicy, fresh, peachy fruit quality.  These are lightly sweet and have lower alcohol than most other wines and are a perfect match with the wide variety of flavors the side dishes present. For those that prefer a drier white with more body I also serve Chardonnay-based wines such as Corton Charlemagne or Meursault from Burgundy, wines with rich, nutty and slightly oaky flavors that pair well with turkey. I also serve a red wine with bold character. I like the rich, dark, red fruit quality, soft tannins and spice flavors found in Zinfandels from the Sonoma and Lodi regions of California. This style is superb with honey baked ham with a clove and coffee glaze and baked sweet potatoes on the side.”