A Wine Guide to Thanksgiving Sides

Festive Thankgiving dinner table with plates of food, turkey and all the sides

Forget choosing a please-all umbrella wine for Thanksgiving. Instead of attempting the impossible, focus on a single side or dish that makes your mouth water the most. It will not only heighten that favorite fixing, it just may enlighten the rest of your meal and usher in a new holiday tradition. Here’s your cheat sheet to the perfect Turkey Day pour.

Infographic of Thanksgiving sides and how to pair them
Illustration by Ellen Surrey


The Wine: White Burgundy
Common choices tend to be Gamay, GewĂĽrztraminer or Zinfandel, but why not veer left when everybody else veers right and serve white Burgundy? With its ample acidity, it will upgrade even the driest bird.

Green Beans

The Wine: New World Riesling 
A fresh, dry Riesling gifted in minerality and stone fruit flavors should amount to more than a hill of beans at the Thanksgiving table, accentuating their crisp, snappy crunch.

Cornbread Stuffing  

The Wine: Loire Chenin Blanc
Cornbread stuffing often sneaks in hints of cumin, cayenne or curry. A dry or off-dry Chenin Blanc will tame these beasts and marry well with the pecans and cranberries.

Mashed Potatoes  

The Wine: Sparkling Blanc de Blanc
Comforting no matter what the occasion, a dry Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine, crafted from Chardonnay grapes, should offset this staple’s butter and cream.

Sweet Potatoes

The Wine: California Chardonnay   
A rich, powerful Chardonnay will play nice alongside a bite of sweet potatoes topped with ample butter. 

Turkey Gravy

The Wine: Rioja Tempranillo
When it comes to the gravy boat, reach for this Spanish stalwart. The leathery smoke and oak will elevate similar tones in a gravy made from the greasy, smoky pan drippings.

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Brussels Sprouts

The Wine: Oaked New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
It may be the only time of year you eat Brussels sprouts, or you may love them. Either way, a Sauvignon Blanc will work wonders with this divisive dish, the creamier the better.

Breadcrumb Stuffing

The Wine: CĂ´te-RĂ´tie
Breadcrumb stuffing means a lot of things to a lot of people—sometimes it’s plain, sometimes there’s sausage, sometimes there’s oysters. Break out an earthy Rhône made from Syrah.

Candied Yams

The Wine: Bual Madeira
Pray for a light hand on the marshmallows, but either way, pour a Bual Madeira, as sweet in brown sugar and nutty caramel as the questionable dish. There. We said it.

Cranberry Sauce

The Wine: McLaren Vale Shiraz
An Australian Shiraz thick in jammy cassis and spicy raspberry is the way to go here; it will stand up texturally without clashing with the sauce’s sweet-and-sour overtones.

Published on November 8, 2013
Topics: Holiday Guide