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Although food is the main focus of Thanksgiving celebrations, booze is just as important. Choosing the perfect wines for your Thanksgiving dinner can seem overwhelming—however, we’ve got a few simple guidelines to ensure that all of your bases are covered.
First and foremost, think about what’s on the table. Thanksgiving meals are savory, fall-inspired, and loaded with a variety of earthy flavors. The meat isn’t too heavy, sweet flavors are abundant (hello, cranberry sauce and candied yams), and above all, keeping palates quenched is key.
Enter wines with bright acidity, low levels of tannins and easy-drinking fruit forwardness. In the realm of reds, this may look like gamays, pinot noirs and zinfandels. For whites, sticking with chenin, chardonnay, or other high-acid varieties is always a good idea—and you can never go wrong with palate-stimulating bubbles.
Not sure where to begin? Take a look at these bottles of the best wines for Thanksgiving.
Best Overall: Guy Breton Régnié
This juicy, easy-drinking gamay is our go-to pick for Thanksgiving Day meals. Gamay pairs beautifully with a variety of foods on the table, including turkey, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes. Guy Breton is also one of the leading natural farmers of France's Beaujolais region, meaning that these wines are produced with organically-farmed fruit, native yeasts and a light hand in the cellar. Delicious, affordable and responsibly-made? Count us in.
"Gamay is perfect for Thanksgiving first and foremost because it's delicious!" says Lauren McPhate, the director of sales at Tribeca Wine Merchants. “Juicy red fruit and light body make it both crowd-pleasing and versatile for food pairing, which is exactly what you need for a holiday table loaded with different dishes."
Best Red: Sean Minor Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
For something with the fruit-forwardness of gamay with a bit more oomph, look no further than a bottle of domestic pinot noir. This delicious and easy-drinking pinot from Sean Minor is crafted from sustainably-farmed fruit across Sonoma Coast and is loaded with juicy flavors of red cherries, currants, strawberry jam and sweet baking spice. At less than $20 a pop, we’d definitely stock up on this one—this could be your next go-to house red.
Related: The Best Red Wines
Best White: Domaine de l'Enchantoir Saumur Terres Blanches
Chenin blanc is one of the best white grape varieties for Thanksgiving meals, as its zesty, apple-driven notes and ample amounts of acidity pair with everything on the table. This rich, yet balanced bottle from Domaine de l’Enchantoir (organic since 2010) is loaded with flavors of juicy stone fruit, yellow apples, white flowers, honey and crushed rocks. When it comes to the Loire Valley, Saumur offers some top-notch and great value chenin and cabernet franc.
Best Sparkling: Hild Elbling Sekt
What would a holiday be without a bottle of sparkling? For a decent brut on a budget, try looking outside of Champagne and exploring other bubbly-producing regions. This pick from Germany is produced from the near-forgotten elbling grape, though rest assured, the bottle is nothing but memorable from the first sip. Pair this one with pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres or buttery mashed potatoes.
"Bubbles are famously known for consumption during a celebration; however, just opening some bubbles can feel like you are celebrating," says Ken Fredrickson, master sommelier and owner of Connoisseur Wines.
Best Budget: Lapierre Raisins Gaulois
At just under $20, this gamay from Beaujolais is a smooth sipper. The wine’s near-absent tannins and zesty flavors of tart cherries, white pepper, and red currants make it almost too easy to drink. Pop this one open for lingering conversations after dinner.
Best Rosé: Bernard Baudry Chinon Rosé
Forget the myth that rosés are only reserved for summer. Contrary to popular belief, well-made rosé wines are some of the most food-friendly bottles on the planet. We recommend steering away from mass-produced brands and looking at small, responsible farmers for even more delicious bottles. This rosé from Chinon, France is produced from organically-farmed cabernet franc. Its fruit-driven palate is balanced by signature peppery undertones, making it perfect for sipping with green beans and other veggies.
"Rosé often pairs with dinners like Thanksgiving because of their kaleidoscope of flavors, bright acid, and some weight from skin contact or a splash of red wine," says Fredrickson. "It seems to go with everything from green bean casserole to grandma's dried out stuffing."
Related: The Best Rosé Wines
Best Pre-Dinner: Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs
Nothing prepares the palate for a big meal like a nice flute of sparkling wine—and what’s more festive than some domestic bubbles on Thanksgiving? California's Schramsberg is one of the long-standing pioneers of American sparkling wine, and the Blanc de Noirs always promises a good time. Notes of red apples, candied citrus, toast, and honey lead to a fresh, floral-driven finish. Pop this bottle before, during, or after your meal and quickly become your guests’ new favorite host.
"Bubbles are, of course, a great start to a party. Crisp, light and fresh, they get you salivating and ready for what's to come," says McPhate.
Best Champagne: Bérêche & Fils Brut Réserve
This delicious non-vintage Champagne hails from the Montagne de Reims and is loaded with flavors of citrus, white flowers, pastry dough and crushed rocks. A bottle of this quality at this price is near impossible to find, especially from grower-producers as talented as Raphaël and Vincent Bérêche. Drink it before, during or after dinner—you can’t go wrong here.
"Where bubbles really shine is at the dinner table,” says McPhate. “Racy acidity cuts through fats, which is great for cheese, meats and buttery potatoes, and a toasty Champagne like Bérêche’s NV (non-vintage) is robust enough to stand up to turkey and richer dishes."
Related: The Best Champagnes
Best Splurge: Domaine Roulot Bourgogne Blanc
For chardonnay in one of its most opulent and high-quality forms, look no further than this wine from Roulot. The unctuous Bourgogne Blanc is loaded with flavors of stone fruit, green apple skin and crushed rocks. This pairs nicely with stuffing, sweet potatoes and roasted root vegetables. (If you’re looking for something even more high-end, check out Roulot’s single-vineyard Meursault cuvées.)
Best Sweet: Braida Brachetto d’Acqui
High-quality sweet sippers can be hard to find, but this Brachetto d’Acqui (red Italian wine) from Braida really hits the spot. Notes of ripe morello cherries, forest berries, raspberry jam, and sweet spice burst from its energetic and persistent palate. The wine’s pleasant sweetness is balanced by ample amounts of bright acidity, making it perfect for dessert wine skeptics.
Related: The Best Sweet Wines
Best with Turkey: Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel
Turkey screams for something juicy and approachable, and this Old Vine Zinfandel from Bedrock is just the ticket. Flavors of dark fruits, raspberry jam, cracked pepper, figs, cedar, and sweet spice ooze from the wine’s food-friendly palate. Plus, Bedrock works exclusively with sustainably and organically-farmed fruit across California. In terms of quality-to-price ratio, this red wine seriously overdelivers.
Best Dessert Replacement: Château Guiraud Sauternes
Don’t get us wrong—we’re not proposing that you forgo the dessert course. However, sometimes a splash of something sweet at the end of a meal is just enough. This rich and luscious wine from Sauternes, France is the holy grail of dessert wines. For an even more decadent experience, serve it alongside your favorite pie, whether it's pumpkin, pecan or banana cream.
Best Low-ABV: Ameztoi Rubentis Rosé
When it comes to Thanksgiving, one thing’s for sure: the day is going to involve a lot of drinking. We recommend keeping some low-ABV wines on hand to counterbalance stronger beverages—like this tasty, spritzy rosé from Spain. Notes of red currants, flower petals, and coarse sea salt will keep your palate quenched, and at just 10.5% ABV, you can sip this wine all day long.
"I'm a huge fan of monitoring alcohol by volume (ABV),” says Fredrickson, who likens drinking occasions to running races. "A weeknight is a 5K with a quick pace, though a day like Thanksgiving, where drinking begins at 10:30 a.m., is a marathon for sure. Pacing is key—lower ABVs let one burn it slow and low.”