Friday, November 20, 2020

Wines to Pair with Turkey

                                            Wine-Knows has much for which to be thankful

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.

Smoked Turkey

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.


Roast Turkey

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.


Have a joyful day of giving thanks and stay safe...even if it's family.

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