The Perfect Pairing For Your Thanksgiving Feast

November 21, 2022
Tasting & Learning

The holidays are finally here, and you know what that means! Delicious, savory foods and spending time with those you love the most. And with good food always comes good wine.

Selecting a wine for Thanksgiving can take time due to the variety of foods and flavors. There’s white and dark meat, sweet yams, tart cranberries, buttery mashed potatoes, stuffing, and spiced pumpkin pie for dessert. Though food tends to be the main focus, it’s important to have the perfect pairing to give your guests a complete tasting experience!

In general, lighter, livelier, and lower-alcohol wines are ideal for a traditional turkey feast. You’ll want to try to go for a more acidic wine, as the dishes are notoriously salty and fatty. These wines will cut through the richness and high salt content, giving you the perfect balance!

Not sure which wine to enjoy while you dine? We can help! Below is a guide to Thanksgiving wines that has something for every palate. From sparkling to white, red, and even dessert wines, the Napa Valley wineries have you and your taste buds covered.


Nothing marks a special occasion quite like bubbles. Pour a flute of champagne or prosecco as a starter to sip on to get your guests in the celebratory mood! The wine’s bubbly effervescence offers relief from the heaviness of the rich side dishes, making it one of the most universal wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. Not only does it go with appetizers, it also pairs perfectly with the main course and compliments dessert beautifully. If you’re looking for a single wine that can take you seamlessly through each course, sparkling wine is the one for you. Below are some noteworthy sparkling wines you should consider that are bound to start Thanksgiving off with a pop!

Winery: Domaine Carneros
Wine: 2017 Verméil Demi-Sec

Tasting Notes: Aromas of honeysuckle, cherry blossom, tangerine, and apples, followed by the exquisite taste of honey, baked apple, ginger, and marmalade.

Winery: Domaine Chandon
Wine: Red Demi-Sec

Tasting Notes: Intense juicy fruitiness with a spicy finish. Black cherry, plum, cranberry, licorice, and cola on the palate for a unique yet delicious taste.

Winery: Schramsberg
Wine: 2018 Blanc de Noirs, Extra Brut

Tasting Notes: Generous aromas of nectarine, pineapple, papaya, and orange zest, complimented by delectable notes of candied orange, peach crumble, and vanilla. The palate gives flavors of melon, mango, and peaches and cream for an acidic yet crisp finish.

Refreshing Whites

White wines are another perfect pairing for a Thanksgiving feast. Their bright acidity cuts right through the fat in the gravy, potatoes, stuffing, and yams, as well as the richness of spices in the cranberry sauce.

Wines that are refreshing, tangy, and on the fruiter side pair best with salads, whereas white wines with a silky mouthfeel enhance the taste of your creamy sides. Sauvignon Blanc is light and crisp with grassy or herbal flavors and high acidity. Riesling can be sweet and fruity with touches of peaches or apricots and a floral fragrance. Every sip feels like a reset button for your palate before you take another bite! Viognier is another excellent Thanksgiving pairing. It has aromas of honeysuckle and a rich, velvety taste with hints of vanilla.

Winery: St. Supéry Estate Vineyards
Wine: 2021 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

Tasting Notes: Fresh aromas of lemon, basil, and anise are paired with a vanillin thread from the French oak. Lemon and lime citrus flavors follow with the essence of pear for a full, rich feel.

Winery: Trefethen Family Vineyards
Wine: Dry Riesling 2021

Tasting Notes: Aromas of white peach, green papaya, and apricot are layered with beautiful jasmine and orange blossom. A lively palate of floral and stone fruit flavors, finished with mouthwatering acidity.

Winery: Pine Ridge Vineyards
Wine: 2021 Chenin Blanc + Viognier

Tasting Notes: An aromatic white blend of honeysuckle, orange blossoms, nectarine, white peach, and ginger spice. Fresh acidity on the palate with flavors of tangerine, lime, lemongrass, ginger, white peach, green apple, and a long lingering hint of lime.

Versatile Reds

Though whites are the more popular companion with Thanksgiving meals, you can still have a nice red pairing. In fact, reds can elevate turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. You’ll want to avoid any that are super tart and high in tannins. A lighter red with moderate acidity would be best to cut through the richness of all the flavors. Pinot noirs are young and fruity with the essence of plums, strawberries, cherries, etc. It’s a versatile wine that will pair well with various turkey preparation methods, and its bright acidity will bring out the most succulent parts of a turkey. Other great reds include Syrah, which is oaky and tart, and Zinfandel, which has flavors of ripe berries, herbs, and the perfect ratio of acid to tannin.

Winery: Tulocay
Wine: 2017 Coombsville Pinot Noir

Tasting Notes: Light on its feet with exuberant fruit on the nose. It is full of character, balance, and plushness that makes it irresistible.

Winery: Keenan Winery
Wine: 2018 Syrah Napa Valley

Tasting Notes: Aromas of black cherry and berry and underlying floral notes. The texture is soft but with a wonderful structure.

Winery: Rutherford Ranch
Wine: Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

Tasting Notes: Intense and full-bodied with red fruit, blackberry, and spice. Soft, subtle tannins and a lingering smoky finish.

Holiday Rosé

Not only is rosé a crowd-pleaser, but its variety of flavors pairs excellently with all the different dishes that will be on your table. Pour a glass for guests who are not firmly camped in either red or white wine, and they will thank you later. It’s crisp and has a level of acidity that will cleanse your palate after each bite. Because it is so versatile, you can’t go wrong with having a bottle of rosé with your meal.

Winery: Domaine Carneros
Wine: 2018 Brut Rosé

Tasting Notes: Aromas of rose petal, honeysuckle, grilled peaches, oranges, and white cherry, followed by flavors of tangerine, strawberry tart, peaches, and marzipan.

Winery: Domaine Chandon
Wine: Rosé, Carneros 2019

Tasting notes: Brimming with generous peach, strawberry, and floral notes.

Winery: Calmére Estate Winery
Wine: 2021 Rosé of Pinot Noir

Tasting Notes: Fruity aromas of watermelon, honeydew, and fresh berries. The palate is refreshing with an essence of lemon curd that provides a well-rounded finish.

Something Sweet

Dessert wines range from red and white to sparkling. They are typically sweeter than other wines. If guests prefer something slightly less sweet, bubbly would be their best option. Crisp, sweet sparkling wines pair nicely with pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies. Muscat can be white, light, and slightly sweet, or dark and very sweet. Port is sweet and a relatively heavy fortified wine. These sweet wines provide the perfect combination of rich flavors and robust spices!

Winery: Prager Winery & Port Works
Wine: Prager Port 2015

Tasting Notes: Enticing aromas of ripe cherry and chocolate with rich flavors of dried cherry, blackberry, and vanilla, balanced with good acidity.

Winery: Merryvale Vineyards
Wine: Merryvale Antigua Dessert Wine

Tasting Notes: A complex combination of nuts and orange aromas. A vibrant taste, the nuts and orange-peel theme continues for a long-lasting finish.

Winery: Mumm Napa
Wine: 2017 Sparkling

Tasting Notes: A Pale copper hue with tart aromas of red apple, orange zest, rhubarb, and pear.

Thanksgiving Feasts in Napa

Yes, there’s lots to drink in Napa for Thanksgiving, but there is also lots to do! Hosting or cooking a Thanksgiving meal is not for you? Take a ride on the Thanksgiving Wine Train for an elegant journey through Napa’s stunning fall landscape while you enjoy a Thanksgiving-themed feast.

Many of Napa Valley’s best restaurants offer delicious Thanksgiving dinners. Boon Fly Café, Silverado Resort, and Carneros Resort and Spa all have Thanksgiving specials on their menu. So whether you want a bottle of wine or an elegant holiday dinner experience like no other, you’ll find it in Napa Valley!

Thanksgiving can be stressful, and thinking of a perfect pairing can be even more complicated. But we’re here to make it easy! It’s great to know how many options there are to satisfy your palate, no matter what wine you or your guests like. So this year, have a glass of your favorite Napa wine or try something new. Pop a bottle and enjoy the season with friends and family!

Learn more about our wine train tours today.

Soak in the best views of the Valley

Treat yourself to an elegant afternoon in our Vista Dome and pair our gourmet cuisine with stunning scenery in our exclusive observation style dining car. Reserve your seat on this breathtaking voyage today.