Beer or Wine – The Perfect Thanksgiving Pairing

As a foodie and an admirer of both craft beer and fine wines, I often wonder what the perfect food pairing is.  What follows is a monthly debate on just that.  Once a month I’ll toss out a food for pairing suggestions from my fellow beer geeks and wine nerds.  Some dishes will come with a convention that popular opinion dictates a specific pairing.  Other posts will present a dish that is a toss-up between beer or wine.  I look forward to hearing your suggestions in this conversation.  Be creative, challenge norms, have fun, and check back often to read what others have to say.   

November’s pairing challenge falls early this month in anticipation of the Thanksgiving feast – succulent turkey, sweet glazed ham, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing studded with Italian sausage, green bean casserole (simple, yet so delicious), cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, etc.  Family and friends gathering together to celebrate our heritage and to give thanks.  A day to forget about the bad and be grateful for the good in our lives.  Raising a glass in gratitude for the beauty and abundance life has delivered us.  What will be in your glass?

Thanksgiving Dinner Perfect Beer or Wine Pairing

Thanksgiving Dinner Perfect Beer or Wine Pairing

As much as I embrace the craft beer movement, I can’t yet swap wine for beer at traditional dinners like Thanksgiving.  I typically bring two bottles of wine to the Thanksgiving table.  I like to start off with an off-dry Riesling.  Maybe something from Washington.  The subtleness of the juice introduces the meal well with slight citrus, peach, and mineral nuances.  I prefer the off-dry to some of the sweeter Rieslings as the meal already has a lot of sugary dishes.  Once the Riesling is drained I have to introduce something red (I am a red wine lover at heart).  Pinot Noir is my go to.  As with the Riesling, its subtleness compliments the many dishes of the meal.  Something from Oregon or the Russian River Valley.  Something with soft red fruit and slight tannins from the oak barrels.  Maybe even with a nuance of vanilla.

What about you?  What is your perfect pairing with Thanksgiving?  Does it have to be Riesling or are you a Chardonnay addict?  What about craft beer?  There are some amazing harvest ales out there right now.  Who’s plopping their favorite craft beer down at the table?

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41 responses to “Beer or Wine – The Perfect Thanksgiving Pairing

  1. Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year–Turkey is my favorite meat and my husband makes the best turkey in the world.

    Because he covers the breast with bacon (keeps it moist) and stuffs the turkey with a sausage dressing, and makes a rich gravy, our meal likes a red. Pinot Noir or Rioja pair nicely.

    I’m also too much of a traditionalist to crave beer with this meal.

    • Confession. Thanksgiving is actually my least favorite meal of the year. I wanted to keep my post positive, but the truth has to come out. I hate turkey. And even worse than that? I despise ham. Of course, maybe if my turkey was wrapped in bacon… now we’re talking.

      • You’d actually like Ken’s turkey. Everyone does; even the people who say they hate turkey. (And it only became my favorite meal after Ken started cooking it for me. Before that, it was my least favorite).

        He knows how to make it taste sublime. Way too many cooks manage to make it taste like cardboard. I will no longer eat turkey anywhere else but at home.

  2. We start before the turkey hits the table. As the turkey is put into the peanut oil, we have our first toast, thankful for a wonderful life and family. We drink metal winning Italian Pinot Grigio and Australian Chardonnay, both home made. As we watch the turkey cook we enjoy a nice Java cigar.On the table this year we will have also be serving Italian Montepulciano. I CAN’T WAIT

  3. For Turkey, I’d go with a Chenin Blanc (Vouvray, maybe something from Stellenbosch/Paarl) or a Sav Blanc (Tourraine/Loire). Dry meat, dry wine. I have a Rose Sancerre on deck, maybe try that one out this year. If I can get a Beaujolais Nouveau at dinner, it would kind of neat to pair that given the seasonality.

    For beer, I like lighter beer, which I think might be good here? I’d do Angry Angel (Big Boss) or Endless River (Mother Earth). I haven’t found a pumpkin beer, but that would kind of seasonal/festive.

  4. Riesling followed by Pinot Noir? Heaven!! Over here (UK) I’m more likely to dip into a German Riesling and a French PN, but I think you’ve nailed your choices there!

  5. I have to admit that until my Bride, I never enjoyed turkey for Thanksgiving, but that has changed. I will be having a Pinot Noir for myself and some close friends, but I think that I may get a bottle or two of a Beaujolais Nouveau to start the day off. I will also be pouring some Chardonnay and I may try a Cabernet Franc Rose as well to see how it pairs. I hope you and all your readers have a great Thanksgiving.

  6. Pingback: Wandering Wrap-up: November 23 | The Wandering Sheppard·

  7. Love it. Very insightful and clear. I have a wine event today at work that features Riesling. I stumbled upon your blog post while doing some research and I have to say it’s helped me refine some of my selling points today. So, a glass to that on Thanksgiving. :)

    Great blog, though. I love some of the pairings you have on here. I will definitely be visiting again for dinner time. Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. I just stumbled across your blog and I love it, great work! Being English, I’ve never had a thanksgiving dinner before, but some American friends have invited us over for one this weekend. We’re in charge of bringing the wine. I’ll be following your advice pretty closely, though substituting with wines from Piemonte, probably a Riesling and a Barbera.

  9. Damn, these are tricky! While red wine is certainly the traditional pairing with turkey and stuffing, thus ensuring a complete after-dinner blackout, I can see a good Marzen or Pumpkin ale pairing well with it too.

  10. I drank craft beer this year for Thanksgiving – an awesome beer by New England Brewing Co., called 668 Neighbor of the Beast!

    I admit that the family folks who bring wine tend to like types I’m not a huge fan of, but they’ve been favoring 19 Crimes lately, which I do like.

  11. Pingback: Battered Fish Pairing Challenge – The Vote | The Wandering Gourmand·

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