Thanksgiving is just around the corner so many of us are making preparations for a holiday dinner. What type of wine we serve will depend upon the preparation of the turkey. For example, wines that best accompany a smoked turkey differ from those that pair with a traditional roasted turkey. For those deep frying your turkey, this requires other wines. As a lover of smoked turkey, I'll start there.
Smoking imparts bold flavors so a smoked turkey requires a bold wine. If you’re a red lover, I would recommend a Syrah. A good Syrah offers a range of deep complex flavors that can stand up to the smoking process. In fact, Syrah often has a smoke profile with nuances of bacon, spicy notes of white or black pepper and black fruits. All of these partner nicely with a smoked meat.
While Zinfandel would work with smoked turkey, Zins have high alcohol content. Assuming most Thanksgiving celebrations will start with pre-dinner holiday libations, I’m hesitate to recommend Zinfandel for this reason. No one wants a Thanksgiving that involves over-drinking. Nonetheless, in moderation, Zin’s big black fruit along with tobacco and spice flavors can work beautifully with smoked meat.
If you’re serving a smoked turkey and prefer to feature a white wine then this certainly is yet another option. Like red wine, a white paired with a smoked turkey needs to be able to stand up to the strong smoke flavors. The best white wine to do so would be a dry Riesling, preferably one with a little age on it.
Deep Fried Turkey
To choose a wine for a fried turkey, one has to consider the pre-frying process. Recipes many times call for a rub (common ingredients include brown sugar, paprika and chili powder). A flavor-chocked rub demands a wine that can stand up to it such as a Syrah or Zin. Other methods prior to frying involve injecting the bird with a liquid such as lemon juice, butter, olive oil, and ground herbs. If this method is used an oaky and/or buttery Chardonnay would work, as would a Merlot for red lovers.
Classic roast turkey and stuffing can work with a multitude of wines, pending the side dishes served. If a traditional feast is prepared (e.g. with a side of cinnamon-laced sweet potatoes, buttery mashed potatoes and rich gravy), then I suggest a dry Gewurztraminer which can cut through the richness and play well with the spice. Less sweet side dishes and a roast turkey with stuffing pairs well with a Pinot Noir.