Turkey offers a relatively subtle flavor making it versatile when it comes to pairing with wine. What it really comes down to when you’re pairing turkey and wine is the flavors you add to your meat or the other ingredients on your plate.
Turkey is a favorite when it comes to hosting for an occasion, more commonly associated with Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Christmas and Thanksgiving are often a big deal, with people spending hours or even days preparing a feast for the occasion. The result is a spread of delicious foods bursting with a variety of sweet and savory flavors.
Pairing turkey with wine is a great way to accentuate your spread by using the wine to complement different flavors.
The difference between pairing your turkey with the wrong wine and the right wine is that the wrong wine will overpower your meal and clash with different ingredients whilst the right wine creates balance and complements every aspect.
With so much effort put into preparing your turkey, it’s only right that equal effort is put into picking the right wine to bring out flavor and balance. To help you find the right wine for your festive meal, we’ve put together a guide of the best wines to be paired with turkey.
A Little Bit About Turkey
Before we get to the good part, it’s important to know a few things about turkey. Turkey is lean meat and a popular favorite when it comes to cooking for an occasion.
The meat on a turkey offers different flavors and textures. The white meat on turkey is low in fat making which makes it dry out easily. This meat is subtle in flavor and should be managed delicately to contain its moisture.
Meat with a low-fat content such as turkey can make tannins in wine come across as harsh or even bitter. Therefore, white meat should be paired with a wine that has low tannins.
Dark meat such as the legs of the turkey contains more fat, flavor, and juice. This part of the turkey would be nicely paired with a wine of medium or high acidity to balance out the rich and salty flavor and texture of the meat.
If your turkey dish contains a lot of salty foods such as bacon, gravy, etc. your turkey should be paired with a wine high in acidity and ideally with a sweet or fruity flavor. This should help to balance out the salt for a harmonious combination.
8 Wines To Pair With Turkey
Pinot Noir is considered a favorite when it comes to pairing wine with turkey. This flavorful wine is versatile as it can be paired with most turkey dishes. Offering light and fruity undertones and high acidity, Pinot Noir nicely complements the subtle flavor of turkey.
This wine also works well with turkey and gravy, helping to bring sweetness and richness to the combination.
Pinot Noir also works well with a spread of cold roast turkey and savory chutneys or pickles. The subtle sweetness of the cold turkey with zingy chutney is nicely paired with Pinot Noir as its fruity undertones bring about warmth and balance out the acidity of the chutney.
Cabernet Sauvignon offers a deliciously rich flavor with fruit and berry undertones. High in tannin content, this wine works well with dark turkey meat.
However, though high in tannins, this Cabernet Sauvignon can also work well with white turkey meat as its high acidity helps to bring out the flavor of the turkey.
This wine is great for adding richness to your meal. Its sweet aroma will envelop your taste buds and nicely complement additional ingredients on your plate.
Chardonnay is considered a classic when it comes to pairing wine with turkey. This wine offers a rich and oaky flavor with sweet and spicy undertones.
This is a great wine for complementing turkey seasoning. The oaky flavor works really well with herbs such as rosemary and thyme creating a hearty combination. This wine also works well with turkey stuffing.
This wine is great for adding moisture to dry white turkey meat. Chardonnay contains a creamy lactic acid which helps add moisture and flavor to the turkey, bringing it a little character to emphasize its flavor.
Chardonnay is also a great choice of wine to include in cooking your turkey as it makes for a great ingredient for basting. Adding it to your turkey this way allows the turkey to absorb its oaky flavor which is nicely accompanied by a glass of chilled Chardonnay on serving.
What’s a celebration without champagne? High in acidity and an added element of bubbles, it’s fair to say that Champagne is a winner when it comes to pairing wine with turkey.
Its high acidity makes it versatile and a great choice to bring out all the flavors of a Christmas or Thanksgiving meal.
The bubbles in Champagne offer a lightness, making it a great drink to sip both during and after your meal.
Due to its high acidity, Champagne nicely accompanies crispy and salty turkey skin as it adds balance.
Riesling offers a distinctly aromatic flavor that works really well with turkey that has been smoked or turkey packed full of spices and herbs.
This is a great wine for bringing out the flavors of turkey seasoning as it brings a distinctive flavor of floral notes and fruity undertones of apple and pear. Pairing this wine with turkey will help to create an explosion of decadent flavors.
Riesling works well to bring balance to a dish as it is considered to be a lighter red wine, making it delicate, easy to drink, and not overpowering.
This wine is versatile and will work well with the rest of the ingredients on your plate, especially those seasoned with herbs and spices.
Sangiovese offers a sweet and fruity flavor with spicy and floral undertones making for an earthy taste. This is a great wine for complementing the saltiness of your turkey as it brings vibrancy and balance.
Sangiovese’s high tannin content makes it more suitable for pairing with dark turkey meat as pairing with white turkey meat may cause a bitter taste. However, pairing it with dark turkey meat enhances the flavors of the turkey juice and nicely complements it by adding an element of spice.
Beaujolais offers a light and fruity flavor making it ideal for pairing with the subtle flavor of turkey. This is a great wine to go for if you’re looking for something that will lighten your meal and subtly enhance the flavor of your turkey.
Beaujolais’ high acidity makes it versatile and easy to combine with a variety of flavors. Its high acid content will also help to balance out the flavors of your dish.
The low alcohol content of this wine will work to help bring out the sweet notes of the turkey to enhance its flavor.
Zinfandel offers a spicy and peppery flavor with sweet, fruity undertones. This wine offers a richness of flavor that works well to complement dark turkey meat. Its combination of flavors of sweet and spice work in harmony with turkey seasoning of herbs and spices.
This wine can be found in a medium or full-bodied version. Both of which will really help to pull the flavors of your meal together to bring out the best of the sweetness and saltiness.
This wine has high tannins making it suitable for pairing with dark turkey meat.
These wines offer distinct and unique flavors that work to complement turkey in different ways. You have the freedom to choose and explore which you would like to pair with your turkey meal.
With this list of wines, finding the right pairing for your Christmas or Thanksgiving meal has never been easier.