What kind of wine goes best with turkey?

Answered by Paul Bowser

When it comes to pairing with turkey, there are a few factors to consider. The type of wine that pairs best with turkey can depend on the preparation methods, flavors, and even personal preferences. While white wines are generally a safe bet for pairing with turkey, there are also some red wines that can complement certain turkey dishes quite well.

White wines, with their lighter and more refreshing profiles, tend to be a popular choice for pairing with turkey. The acidity and fruitiness of white wines can help cut through the richness of the meat and enhance the flavors of the meal. Some of the classic choices for turkey include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling.

Chardonnay is a versatile white wine that comes in a variety of styles, from light and crisp to rich and creamy. It pairs well with both white and dark meat turkey dishes. If you're serving a traditional roasted turkey with simple flavors, a lighter, unoaked Chardonnay can be a great choice. On the other hand, if you're preparing a turkey with a more complex sauce or stuffing, a fuller-bodied, oak-aged Chardonnay can complement those flavors beautifully.

Sauvignon Blanc is another white wine that works well with turkey. Its bright acidity and herbaceous notes can provide a refreshing contrast to the savory flavors of the bird. Sauvignon Blanc pairs particularly well with herb-roasted turkey or turkey dishes with citrus-based sauces.

Riesling, with its range of sweetness levels, can be a delightful choice for pairing with turkey. A dry or off-dry Riesling can balance the richness of the meat, while a slightly sweeter Riesling can complement the flavors of a glazed or honey-roasted turkey. The fruity and floral characteristics of Riesling can add a pleasant aromatic element to the meal.

While white wines tend to be the go-to choice for turkey, there are also some red wines that can work well depending on the preparation and flavors of the dish. Light-bodied red wines with low tannins, such as Pinot Noir or Gamay, can be a good match for turkey dishes that have lighter flavors and leaner cuts of meat.

Pinot Noir, known for its delicate and complex flavors, can be a fantastic choice for pairing with turkey. Its earthy and fruity notes can complement the flavors of a roasted turkey or even a turkey with mushroom-based sauces. The light tannins in Pinot Noir won't overwhelm the delicate flavors of the meat.

Gamay, the grape variety used in Beaujolais wines, can also be a great option for turkey. It has a vibrant red fruit character and a light body, making it a versatile choice for various turkey preparations. Gamay pairs well with herb-roasted turkey or dishes with cranberry-based sauces.

For those who prefer bolder and spicier flavors, a richer like Syrah or Zinfandel can be a good match for turkey. These wines have more intense flavors and higher tannins, which can stand up to the stronger flavors of a heavily seasoned or spicy turkey dish.

Syrah, also known as Shiraz in some regions, offers a range of flavors from dark fruits to peppery spices. It can complement turkey dishes with bold flavors like Cajun-spiced or barbecue-glazed turkey.

Zinfandel, with its jammy fruit flavors and higher content, can be a great choice for pairing with turkey dishes that have a bit of heat or smokiness. It pairs well with turkey preparations like smoked or spicy turkey.

In the end, the best wine to pair with turkey will depend on your personal preferences and the specific flavors of the dish you are serving. It can be fun to experiment and try different wine styles to see which ones complement your turkey recipe the best. The key is to find a wine that enhances the flavors of the meal and provides a pleasant balance to your palate. Enjoy the process of discovering new wine and food pairings, and remember that there are no strict rules when it comes to wine pairing – it's all about finding what you enjoy the most.