Cocktails (and mocktails!) are a great way to kick off a holiday evening with family and friends, but over the long haul, you’ll want to have a few bottles of wine to get you through dinner. (Water, too, friends. Stay hydrated!) Pairing a rich, decadent Thanksgiving meal with wine is not an easy feat and relying on the recommendations of a specialty wine shop can leave your wallet empty. So we’re keeping it simple—and affordable—with our picks for the best wines for Thanksgiving.
And, yes, we consulted experts. So decide on white or red—or maybe get a few bottles of each—and relax. Everything will be delicious.
No matter what type of wine you go for, the most important thing is to look for everyday wines that go well with food, but can stay in the background. Think of wine as a quiet complement to the main event of the meal. As in, even if you’re willing to splurge on wine, Thanksgiving is not the time to open that $500 bottle of Barolo you’ve been saving.
To that end, stay away from wines that are particularly big and bold, or that have a lot of oak or wood flavor. Instead, look for wines with higher acidity (to help clean the palate of the many flavors that will bombard it) and a touch of sweetness.
Pinot Noir is the most popular and versatile choice for a Thanksgiving red. Light bodied with bright and tart berry flavors, Pinot Noir is typically a better choice than a big, richly spiced Cabernet or a Merlot. In fact, though a single wine pairing for the whole Thanksgiving feast can be hard to pin down, a decent Pinot Noir comes incredibly close. It goes well with turkey and the fixings, too. (Mmmm… fixings.)
The exception to the Pinot Rule is if your meal will be heavy on very sweet sides like this Squash Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole or Apple-Cider Glazed Sweet Potatoes. In that case, consider a richer red wine like a Zinfandel or Grenache.
– Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara Pino Noir 2013 is an easy to drink, well balanced fruity wine that’s known for going with anything. Sounds perfect!
– Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages 2014 is a crisp, fruit-forward, juicy wine with the flavor of ripe red berries and a nice mouth feel to wash it all down.
– Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2012 offers intensely fruity aromas with the flavor of blueberry and ripe plum, plus spicy notes from black pepper and rosemary. The acidity is balanced by the tannins, which makes for a good overall match for a turkey meal.
When it comes to whites, you can go one of two ways: a creamy, fuller-bodied white that has a touch of oak (my preference, because I think it’s more versatile), or with an aromatic, lighter-bodied white with fruit and floral notes which are a nice counterpoint to savory Thanksgiving foods.
– King Estate Acrobat Pinot Gris 2014 is a wine made from responsibly grown grapes in Oregon, one of our best wine producing regions. This sip is crispy, refreshing, and versatile—perfect for Thanksgiving.
– d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2013 is a light, crispy wine with a mix of white stone fruit and sweet pineapple flavor—a hint of ginger, too. As this goes down, the sweet flavors finish into more savory ones that will remind you of raw almonds and spice, all of which go nicely with a Thanksgiving feast.
– You may associate Riesling with sweet wines, but they can be dry, too. Either way, they are a nice choice if you like floral wines. Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2015 is a lovely wine with good value.
Look for these or similar wines at your local liquor or wine store. Though you may not be able to order online in time for Thanksgiving, all of our picks are available on Wine.com. These are all currently available for $22 or less/bottle, but please keep in mind that prices are subject to change and delivery and taxes differ by state. Cheers!