While this hearty poultry makes for a great club sandwich, savory soup or even meatballs, turkey no doubt shines brightest as the centerpiece of a festive Thanksgiving feast with family and friends. The internet serves as a great resource for a myriad of delicious turkey recipes. Nevertheless, you may be asking yourself, “What wine goes with turkey ?”
In fact, the answer to this question depends – as with all food – on the cooking techniques used to prepare the ingredient and on the form it takes on your table. For example, while a bright and mineral white wine will go well with lemon and garlic turkey, a bolder, spicier red wine may taste better with a smoked turkey, for example. To help you choose the right wine for your favorite turkey dishes, we have put together a guide with different styles and the turkey preparations with which to enjoy them.
Due to its high natural acidity and refreshing effervescence, sparkling wine is perhaps the most versatile food pairing wine. Despite the common misconception that they go well only with oysters and caviar, sparkling wines – such as Prosecco, Champagne, Vouvray or Cava - actually match a very wide range of food choices, including a myriad of turkey dishes. They will successfully cut through salty and fatty turkey preparations, like fried turkey with turkey gravy or savory turkey sausage.
To choose the perfect white wine to pair with your turkey recipe, consider carefully the preparation method and style of your dish. A classic roast turkey seasoned with herbs, for example, will go nicely with the herbaceous notes and dry minerality of Bordeaux white wines, typically a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Meanwhile, a richer dish, like a succulent turkey breast slathered in a creamy mushroom sauce, will need something with more body, like an aged Chardonnay from Burgundy.
And finally, Riesling is known as one of the most food-friendly white grape varieties, available in a wide range of styles from bone-dry to sweet. A dry Riesling from Alsace has enough acidity to stand up to the richest dishes, like the crispy skin of a fried turkey. Or, try an off-dry or semi-sweet Riesling, like a Spätlese from Germany for example. Still boasting a very high acidity, these slightly sweet wines are proven to pair best with spicier dishes, like a Cajun spiced turkey or turkey in curry sauce.
For turkey dishes with more subtle flavors, we recommend pairing a rosé wine from Cotes de Provence, whose bright acidity and fresh red fruit aromas will add the perfect touch. Or, for a hearty turkey stew or turkey giblets, consider a deeply-colored, more intensely flavored rosé from Tavel.
As most turkey preparations are characterized by delicate flavors and textures, they tend to pair best with light-bodied red wines with fresh fruit flavors and tannins that are silky-smooth. For example, the bright and fruity flavor of a Gamay from Beaujolais, a Cabernet Franc from Saumur or a Pinot Noir from Sancerre will go nicely with the white meat of the turkey, especially a succulent turkey sandwich on the morning after Thanksgiving.
Dark meat turkey tends to be more intense in flavor and may pair better with a richer New World red wine, like a Pinot Noir from Oregon. Full-flavored, slightly peppery turkey dishes like turkey meatballs in a tomato sauce or mushrooms stuffed with ground turkey will go beautifully with a fuller-bodied red wine, like a Sagrantino from Umbria in southern Italy.
Overall, turkey tends to be too delicate and savory an ingredient to pair with a dessert wine. Rather than serving a sweet wine with turkey, we recommend waiting until the end of the meal and enjoying these wines with, or instead of, dessert. Choose a golden-hued Sauternes or a luscious Port for the perfect sweet ending to your favorite turkey meal.
When thinking about what wine goes with turkey, cooking style should, first and foremost, be considered. For a lighter, more delicate preparation of white meat turkey, we recommend a lighter-bodied, mineral white wine with fresh citrus aromas and floral fragrances. Turkey served with a voluptuous white sauce will need a white wine with more body and acidity. While white wines tend to pair more easily with white meat turkey recipes, dark meat and more complex turkey preparations may go well with a light-bodied red wine or a richer, spicier red wine in the case of a spicy, earthy flavored dish.