Wine with Food – Wine for Roasted Turkey

It’s hard to believe that it’s Thanksgiving already!  Yes, Canadian turkey day is just around the corner.  Many of you may already have the menu planned out for a big feast for family and friends – turkey, stuffing, gravy, and all the fixings – but, have you thought about which wine to pair with the food?  Well, fear not…turkey is actually quite wine friendly and there are many wine styles that will pair wonderfully with a roasted turkey dinner.

The rule of serving white wine with turkey is always a safe bet, but don’t turn your back on all red wines – there are some great red wine options for turkey that play the same role as a spoonful or two of cranberry sauce.  But, no matter what colour of wine you choose, it should be relatively high in acid, low in tannin, and lighter in weight, with moderate alcohol, and little to no oak.

Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine is a great way to start off the evening, instantly putting everyone in a celebratory mood.  However, it should not be forgotten that not only is sparkling wine an excellent way to toast the holiday, but it is also very versatile with food and pairs beautifully with a number of dishes, including turkey, so don’t be afraid to pair it with the main course! Read, “Sensational Sparkling Wine from Ontario,” for more information about Ontario sparkling wine.


A good Chardonnay (especially cool-climate Chardonnay) is always a crowd pleaser at my house, and who can blame us…full of ripe fruit, creamy vanilla, and cleansing citrus and minerality.  When choosing a Chardonnay for your turkey dinner, look for ones that do not have too much oak.  Ontario produces many fine Chardonnays.  Read my post, “Seriously Cool Canadian Chardonnay”, for more details.


Riesling is another great white wine choice for Thanksgiving dinner.  I like the dry and off-dry Rieslings with roasted turkey.  The wine’s zippy acidity cuts through the richness of the meat and gravy and leaves the palate feeling refreshed.  For information on Ontario Rieslings, please read “A Riesling Experience – Part 2 – Riesling in Ontario”.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is one of my all-time favourite grapes because it is so versatile with so many foods.  Its lighter tannins and aromas and flavours of red berries act in the same way a spoonfull of cranberry sauce works, adding a different layer of flavour to the dish.  My favourite Pinot Noirs come from the grape’s ancestral homeland of Burgundy, France, but Ontario, with a similar climate, also produces some great examples.


Soft and fruity, Gamay is another great red to serve with Thanksgiving dinner.  The Gamay grape and is naturally light in tannins and body, and is bursting with fresh berry flavours. Beaujolais is made with Gamay and hails from the southern part of Burgundy in France.  Beaujolais labelled with the name of one of ten recognized villages known as Crus Beaujolais, are typically bigger and fuller than regular Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages, but are still good partners with roasted turkey.  The Gamay grape is also very successful in Ontario where it makes fuller, spicier versions, with the typical Gamay fruitiness.


Don’t forget about blends!  The wine you serve with Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be a single varietal wine.  There are many delicious Ontario wines on the market that are blends of two, three, or more grapes varieties.  Stratus Winery is known for its premium blends – Stratus White ($44) would be a good wine for Thanksgiving.  Look for their Wildass ($19.95) label for good value blends.  Other great value blends to try are Flat Rock Cellars Twisted ($17.15) and Seriously Twisted ($23.15) whites and 13th Street White Palette ($14.95).  These wines are not only easy to drink, they are easy on the wallet too.

Leave a comment and let me know if you have any other wine ideas that you think would be a good match for Thanksgiving dinner.

Related Articles:

Ontario VQA Wines and Christmas Dinner

Great Ontario VQA Wines to Serve with Easter Lamb

Great Ontario VQA Wines to Serve with Easter Ham

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