Thanksgiving Wine Pairings – 13 Top Picks

Use this cheat sheet from CinCin's wine director to select the best wines for your special meal

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For a great Thanksgiving wine pairing, try a pinot noir, white blend or rosé

Wine is a key element to a great holiday dinner. This Thanksgiving, use this cheat sheet from CinCin’s wine director to select the best wines for your special meal

Sarah McCauley, CinCin’s vivacious, award-winning wine director (named one of Western Living’s 2011 Top 40 Foodies Under 40), shares her favourite wine picks for Thanksgiving dinner in a range of varietals for every budget.

For all of her experience and knowledge (she’s also a certified wine instructor) McCauley takes a pretty casual approach to selecting wines for Thanksgiving. She suggests choosing a wine that pleases your palate – whether that’s a white, red or rosé – and offers suggestions for each.

McCauley says that holiday dinners are about sharing food and togetherness, not fussing about wine pairings: “I want to spend time with friends and family, not talk about wine!”


“A classic pairing for turkey dinner is rosé,” McCauley says. Rosés are made from red grapes, giving them a bit more weight than whites, but are still light enough to pair with a lighter meat like turkey. “Most rosés will have enough acidity that they can cut through any richness in gravies,” and the cranberry sauce that traditionally accompanies Thanksgiving dinner goes nicely with a wine “that’s going to have a bit of that crunchy red fruit to it, and a lot of rosés have a nice strawberry note to them.”

“Rieslings are also a classic pairing,” says McCauley. “Often you’ll see a switch from people drinking Sauvignon Blanc to richer wines like Viogniers and Rieslings, which are both still really food-friendly but have good weight to them as well,” says McCauley. “If people still want to enjoy Sauvignon Blancs and Semillons, it’s nice to move to a richer style.”

White Blends

Another great wine type to serve with turkey dinner is a white blend. “As far as BC wines are concerned, I love the white blends,” says McCauley. “They are really lush, aromatic, with good weight but they’re still fragrant and refreshing wines.”

“Viognier is a great example of a wine that will work very well with vegetarian dishes, especially a dryer style,” says McCauley. “And if you’re going to be serving something spicy you might want to look to a Gewurztraminer.”


If you’re feeling the red vibe for Thanksgiving dinner, McCauley says, “Pinot Noir is a great transition into winter.” And she says that “all things Sangiovese” are great wines coming into the fall season. “Sangioveses have medium-structured tannins and great acidity – these are wines that are meant to be had with food.”

13 Perfect Wine Pairings for Your Thanksgiving Dinner

McCauley suggests keeping this in mind when choosing wines: “Whites are the same as reds in that when they start to get heavier, they become more expensive.” Following is her list of suggestions from the most affordable to the splurge-for-a-special-occasion wines.

1. Sokol Blosser 2010 Rosé of Pinot Noir (BC), $16. “My favourite that I’ve tried recently.”

2. Gray Monk 2010 Gewurztraminer (BC), $17. “It’s crisp, it’s refreshing, it’s got lots of aroma, it’s really floral, it’s gorgeous.”

3. Andeluna Malbec (Argentina), $20. “If I had to choose a wine for 10 people, this would be it. It’s got good earthiness, medium body, and is good for light and heavy dishes. It’s a crowd pleaser.”  

4. Joie 2010 Rosé (BC), $21. “It’s a dry rosé, it’s fantastic. And the nice thing about Joie is that their wine making is very transparent and I love that. If you go onto their website it has a breakdown of varietals and within that where the fruit is coming from.”

5. Joie 2010 Noble Blend (BC), $22. “The Joie Noble Blend is such a great and versatile wine.”

6. Laughing Stock 2010 Viognier (BC), $26. “Laughing Stock has a great Viognier. People often refer to it as a peaches and cream aroma, it has this lifted stone fruit quality to it.”

7. Tantalus 2009 Chardonnay (BC), $30. “It’s what I want to see from a BC Chardonnay: crisp, refreshing, fruity, dry, well-integrated French oak. It’s such a balanced and elegant wine.”

8. Indian Wells 2009 Merlot (Washington), $30. “Merlots from Washington State are outstanding. I love the Indian Wells from Chateau Ste Michele, it’s really great.”

9. Any Chianti from Barone Ricasoli (Italy), $30 to $65. “They’re a great producer. The laws of Chianti were founded at this house. You know you’re getting a good product whatever your price range is.”  

10. Alois Lageder 2010 Gewurztraminer (Italy), $35. “If you’re looking for something special and really different, it’s a really great wine. It’s one of my top picks.”

11. Fox Trot 2010 Chardonnay (BC), $45. “The Fox Trot Chardonnay is beautiful but it’s a premium at $45, but well worth it.”

12. Tedeschi Amerone (Italy), $55. “Big, rich and robust: great paired with game. The grapes are dried on straw mats for six months before they’re pressed.”

13. Fox Trot 2008 Pinot Noir (BC), $65. “Premium, but well worth it!”

Need a great side dish for your Thanksgiving meal? Try this Pancetta Brussels Sprouts recipe.