3 Essential Wines for Your Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving: For food and wine lovers, it’s both a dream and conundrum. We love breaking out a special-occasion bottle to pair with our favorite dishes, but when guests arrive with
different taste preferences, it can be overwhelming trying to select a wine that will please everyone’s palate. Our Test Kitchen hack this Thanksgiving? Keep your fridge well-stocked with a few bottles of these tried-and-true, crowd-pleasing wines to match with your holiday favorites.

Crisp, Refreshing Bubbles

Sparkling wines are elegant and celebratory—and when it comes to food pairings, they’re incredibly versatile. Salty, fatty, fresh, and fried foods are all typically great matches for a glass of dry sparkling wine, making it a prime choice for your pre-dinner charcuterie board, a crudité platter, and gooey cheeses. If the bottle lasts beyond dinner, you’re in luck—it’d be a great match for richer Thanksgiving sides, like gooey, cheesy baked pasta or buttery mashed potatoes.

So—where to start? Well, it depends on your budget. When a holiday or special occasion rolls around, the Test Kitchen loves a classic Champagne, which generally offers gentle bubbles, high acidity, and lemon and bready flavors. Select a bottle with a “brut” label for a dry style, and make sure it’s well-chilled before serving.

If you don’t have the budget for Champagne, try Crémant, a category of French sparkling wines that are made in the same traditional style, but outside the region of Champagne. The result? Equally crisp, refreshing, and complex wines, minus the price tag. Some of our personal favorites are Crémant de Loire, Crémant d’Alsace, or Crémant de Bourgogne.

Dry, Aromatic Riesling

It’s a common misconception that all Riesling is cloyingly sweet. Yes, some mass-produced versions can skew that way, but Riesling is actually one of the most versatile grape varieties around, capable of producing high-quality wines in a full range of sweetness levels, from bone-dry Australian Rieslings to the sweetest category of German Rieslings, Trockenbeerenauslese (say that three times fast!).

For your Thanksgiving table, we suggest a Riesling from the Alsace region in France. These highly aromatic wines are typically made in a dry style, with a mouthwatering acidity and fuller body that can stand up to creamy textures and salty, earthy, and even funky flavors. Need ideas? Try it with smoked turkey, rich gravy, roasted mushrooms, ham, or Brussels sprouts with balsamic glaze.

Lush, Fruit-Forward Beaujolais

Not to be confused with Beaujolais nouveau, cru Beaujolais must hail from 1 of 10 designated areas (or crus) in the French wine region. This lighter-bodied wine is a somm favorite—friendly yet elegant with aromas of ripe raspberry, black cherry, and plum.

When it comes to Thanksgiving pairings for this wine, the possibilities are nearly limitless. Try it with dark-meat turkey, as well as ham or cured meats—the saltiness of the food and the fruitiness of the wine are a match made in heaven. In the Test Kitchen, we also love having a sip of this wine with a bite of creamy mashed potatoes or roasted butternut squash for a tart, juicy counterpoint.

Not a fan of wine? Try cider.

If wine doesn’t strike your fancy, an off-dry sparkling cider is a fun and festive Thanksgiving alternative. Try a bottle from Normandy in France—with refreshing effervescence and a little residual sugar, it provides satisfying balance to the rich, savory flavors of your favorite Thanksgiving sides. We suggest roasted potatoes, stuffing with sausage, or funkier cheeses on a cheese board, like Taleggio, Stilton, and Gorgonzola.

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