What Drinks Pair Well With Turkey?

Friends toasting wine glasses
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Thanksgiving dinner, or any occasion that calls for a full-course, roasted turkey meal, can be one of the most stressful meals to plan because when all eyes are turned to the chef you want everything to be perfect. This is where we come in -- to give you ideas for planning the perfect holiday dinner.

Below you will find beverage suggestions for the adults at the table that will pair perfectly with any ​Thanksgiving turkey recipe and its fantastic side dishes.

Beer Suggestions

A stuffed roasted turkey or another bird is one of the joys of the holiday season. It is typically the centerpiece of a feast full of traditional holiday dishes including Thanksgiving. The meal has every flavor imaginable so when you think of pairing a beer with turkey or any other bird, it's also necessary to think of all of those other dishes that are likely to accompany it, too. The beer needs to be complex without overpowering while having the ability to work with all of those flavors. A good choice is Saison, a once obscure style that has enjoyed a strong resurgence in recent years. Saison originated in southern Belgium and is now popular with craft brewers who often brew it as an autumn seasonal. It is a rich, complex ale full of spice and notes of rich, late season fruit. It is deliberately soured so it carries just a touch of tanginess making it not just a great companion for the foods of the holiday table but it also a very nicely palate cleanser.

Wine Suggestions

Traditional Thanksgiving meals go hand in hand with a good glass of wine! And thankfully there are plenty of Thanksgiving wine pairing options to suit virtually every palate when it comes to partnering favorite wines with turkey. For red wine enthusiasts, Pinot Noir is an all time favorite and for good reason -- its low tannin content allows it to meld well with turkey meat mixed with seasonal sides.

White wine lovers can't go wrong with either a Riesling or a Sauvignon Blanc. The herby, earthy qualities found in many Sauvignon Blancs make a perfect complement to the herb-filled stuffing and well seasoned mashed potatoes.

  • Pinot Noir Producers to consider include Adelsheim, Castle Rock, Saintsbury, Sebastiani, Ferreira, Acacia, Fess Parker, King Estate.
  • For Riesling Producers take a look at Gunderloch, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Trimbach, Hogue, Fetzer, Pacific Rimfor, Dr. Loosen, Tesch, Schloss Johannisberg, Fritz Haag, Hugel et Fils, JJ Prüm.
  • Finally, some Sauvignon Blanc producers to check out are Marlborough, St. Supery, Geyser Peak, Covey Run, Montes.

Cocktail Suggestions

Probably the most appropriate cocktail, both in name and in flavor profile, for a full-course turkey dinner is the Thanksgiving Cocktail. No matter which seasonings you choose for your bird, the combination in that drink of dry gin and vermouth, sweet apricot brandy and sour lemon juice pair perfectly with the savory turkey. The Thanksgiving Cocktail is an excellent aperitif and a refreshing sipper during the meal. I do like to stay with gin cocktails for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner because they are light, complimentary to a variety of sides and the botanicals are the perfect fit for such a flavorful meal.

There are many other gin cocktails that fit this profile, some others that I might suggest are the English Rose, Park Avenue, and Verbena Martini.

Tea Suggestions

As a general rule, black teas will be best suited for pairing with turkey. For something crisp and palate cleansing, I’d suggest a Ceylon (Sri Lankan) black tea. Ceylon teas are often bold with medium tannins and notes of spice and lemon. If you prefer something a little less brisk, go with Darjeeling second flush (or "summer picked Darjeeling"). It often has a complex flavor with subtle undertones of Muscat grape and stonefruit. Alternately, "Oriental Beauty" oolong has a smooth, rich and fruit-sweet flavor that many people love with turkey.

For dessert, you may also want to check out our pumpkin pie pairing recommendations.