Hosting for Turkey Day this year!? Attending a friendsgiving celebration!? Well, no holiday is complete without the perfect drinks to go with the occasion. Luckily for you, we’ve narrowed down the very best drinks & wines in a variety of categories to go along with the holiday season. We cover everything from pre-dinner drinks, to mid-dinner wines, to dessert bubblies! There is something on this list for every one of your guests taste, that is sure to please every crowd. Keep reading for our JWG beverage expert’s recommendations and suggestions for the perfect holiday drinks! Cheers!
Thanksgiving is a marathon, not a sprint, so warm up your palate European-style with a light aperitif (an alcoholic drink taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite).
Lillet, a French classic, made with carefully selected white wine macerated with citrus fruits, zest, and aromatic barks is designed to wake up the palette with a blend of sweetness and faintly floral notes. Serve it over ice for an easy pre-dinner sip.
Campari itself is designed to be an aperitif and in a Negroni, it is paired with gin and sweet vermouth to create the ultimate before-dinner drink, a classic.
When looking for white wines for Thanksgiving, you want excellent acidity—that ‘crisp’ factor—but with texture on the palate. Chenin Blanc marries those two elements. With a mineral-driven backbone, the mouthfeel delivers an elegant and supple texture full of exotic spice and ripe fruit, but without being heavy. And the finish is incredibly long.
White wine may get all of the sparkling wine glory, but lightly effervescent, berry-rich lambrusco is an excellent starter wine as well as a compliment to poultry.
I know it may seem a little played out but beaujolais still remains a great Thanksgiving wine. This wine is juicy and refreshing, goes with a wide range of foods like you will likely have at Thanksgiving and most importantly, comes in right around $20. Remember, you’re going to be enjoying wine all day long so you’re going to want something that won’t weigh you down.
In terms of finding a food-friendly, versatile white wine for Thanksgiving, chardonnays are classic, but they can be a little bit tricky. That’s because chardonnay really falls into two disparate categories: oaky, buttery chardonnay, and unoaked, mineral-driven chardonnay. The big, oaky chardonnays typical of California run the risk of overpowering your holiday spread. That’s why we suggest suggests unoaked or lightly oaked chardonnays for Thanksgiving.
Pinot Noir is an excellent choice for Thanksgiving. These wines are food-friendly, with soft tannins and a fresh burst of tart acidity that helps to cut through rich dishes. They have herbal notes that complement all the sage, thyme, and fennel in a Thanksgiving feast, and an earthiness that brings out the best in mushroom gravy, stuffing, and turkey itself. At its best, pinot is elegant, sultry and savory, with a pop of fresh tart berries and base notes that remind me of the wet forest floor.
Viognier, sometimes described as chard’s sultry sister, has richness, body and resonant spice and fruit notes that makes it an ideal complement for roast turkey — dark meat or white — and will cut through carb-heavy, buttery sides like potatoes, sweet potatoes and sage-laced stuffing or dressing.
Thanksgiving dinner can be so heavy — sometimes you need something moderate to light in alcohol, with high acidity to balance all that richness. Riesling is frequently bright with acidity and, depending on where it’s grown, on the low-alcohol side, with flavors of apple and citrus. Its crisp, palate-refreshing acidity helps explain Riesling’s well-earned reputation as one of the world’s great food wines.
Zinfandel is America’s sweetheart. A fuller bodied red wine that ups the intensity from a pinot noir but still maintains a balancing effect on many traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. It’s the ideal turkey pairing wine because its lower tannin helps moisten even the driest turkey. Also, Zinfandel’s secondary flavors of cinnamon, clove and vanilla will put you in the mood for fall.
The celebration of any holiday brings to mind the ultimate party wine: Champagne (or sparklers from other wine-producing areas). Along with the celebratory aspect, sparkling wine can also be a great pairing with many dishes. The acidity and effervescence of the wine serve as palate-cleansers, preparing you for the next bite. Also, the flavors of most sparkling wines are somewhat more restrained than those of still wines, making them easier to match with food that has a variety of spices and flavors.
Orange wines are usually a bit more complicated. They’re typically richer and more densely textured than most white wines—this is by design—and that makes them less carefree, more suited to cold weather than warm. It’s surprising how many of their scents and flavors—dried apricots, nuts, and autumnal fruits like persimmon—can echo the best of a Thanksgiving table. The process of making orange wines, plus the minerality many winemakers seek in them, lend themselves to a greater perception of umami in the wine. Drink it with charcuterie, strong cheese and olives, as well as autumnal foods, like squash, mushrooms and roasted dishes.
If you like Pinot Noir but are looking for something a bit more earthy, go with the Italian Nebbiolo grape from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. Nebbiolo often needs some aging, so you’d be smart to buy an older vintage, and you’ll love its soft texture, playful mountainous acidity and earthy, red-fruited profile. In Piedmont, Barolo and Barbaresco offer two very different, but equally incredible expressions of this native Italian grape. Barolo is the earthier, more ‘masculine’ of the two, while Barbaresco is seen as the more feminine, delicate counterpart. Both will be a hit at your Thanksgiving feast.
Kick off the after-dinner celebration with dessert and a sweet wine. Dessert wines can be red, white, or sparkling, and all are slightly sweeter than other wines.
A classic option would be Port: Sweet, fairly heavy fortified wine. Younger ports are fruitier. Older ports are less sweet, tawny in color, and have a nuttier flavor from longer aging in wood.
Another after-dinner drink option is Five Farms Irish Liqueur. Five Farms is a true farm-to-table product, crafted from single batches of fresh cream that are combined with premium Irish Whiskey within 48 hours of collection to become authentic Irish Cream Liqueur. The cream is sourced entirely from five family-owned farms in County Cork, run by families that have a deep connection to the land and a passion for their craft.
Five Farms is made with the richest dairy cream, smooth and sweet and luxurious. The mild climate and abundant rainfall in County Cork result in fertile farmland for dairy cattle, who spend their days basking in the fresh sea air and grazing on vibrant green grass.
Five Farms contains a greater amount of Irish Whiskey than other brands on the market, setting it apart in the category and allowing for an intensity of whiskey flavor and warmth that is truly one of a kind. The result is a superior Irish Cream Liqueur with the richness of Ireland itself.
What better way to spend the holidays than drinking locally crafted beers from Jackson, Wyoming!