The Best Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving Dinner


– We have the best of the
internet for Thanksgiving dinner. We’ve got Riesling, we’ve got Sancerre, we’ve got pinot noir, we’ve got zinfandel. And we also have two wines that we came up with in our process. We’re gonna taste all
of those with the dish, and we’ll see what happens. (soothing music) Hi, this is Tracy Gardner
from Pairing Base. Please subscribe to our channel. So we wanted to know, from the internet, which wines it says are gonna be best with Thanksgiving dinner. We scoured every corner of the internet, and came up with tons of ideas,
and these were the top four. Riesling. Sancerre. Pinot noir, zinfandel. We also came up with two ideas on our own. We’re gonna taste all these guys with a dish, and see what happens. We’re also gonna show you what
to ask for in the wine store to get a fantastic pairing with this dish. So check it out and see what you think. What we usually do here at Pairing Base is we take a bite of the food to see what experience the food creates,
what we feel we might want next after biting the food, so let’s do that. Make the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. A lot of people think that Thanksgiving is full of big flavors. But actually it’s kind of
mellow and kind of mild. It’s more like a velvety texture
than anything big going on. The other thing I’m
noticing is that the stuff in Thanksgiving dinner, the dressing, the mashed potatoes, the stuffing, all that stuff kind of
sticks to your mouth. And so it seems like this dish
really calls for something with a lots of acid to wash that away. But again, the dish
itself is kind of subtle. So I can’t imagine you want
something with a big flavor to come in and really
sort of blast that away. Here’s the problem. Riesling, it’s got a big flavor typically. So we’ll see what happens. And there’s the other problem. So the internet said that
Riesling is one of the best wines with Thanksgiving dinner. It did not tell me
which specific Riesling. And the problem with
Riesling is that it can be from any place, it could
be any sweetness level. And they gave me no guidance as to which one is gonna be best. And I can guarantee you
that each one, each type, you notice they have a different place, different sweetness level, is going to taste best with the dish. So I’m gonna tell you the
internet didn’t really do me a lot of good in
telling me which wine’s gonna be great with the dish. But I got one that I
thought would be good. This is a dry Riesling from Austria. Now let’s give it a taste
and see what happens. You give the wine a taste
by itself initially, to see what happens, but
again, I don’t have high hopes, ’cause I expect it to be pretty aromatic. And I expect it to just
blow the dish away. Let’s see what happens. I’ll taste the wine by itself. That’s a big flavor. Nice acidity, lots of
sort of limey character. Some minerality there. A muffled wine. Delicious wine, it may be a
good wine for any other place, but I can’t imagine it’s
gonna work with the dish. But let’s find out. First we’re going to, take a bite of the food. Nice and mild. That is not good with the dish. I’m left with that sort
of stony minerality. And still that limey-ness is persistent. The stony minerality is where the wine took me after a bite of the food. It is not somewhere I want to go. And the stoniness really is persistent. There are places where that aroma, that flavor would be welcome. Maybe with some shellfish dishes. But it certainly is not
welcome with this dish. I’m gonna be a glutton for
punishment and taste it again. I can’t imagine that
people would like this. I’m trying to find the wines that when you serve to your guests, you sit back knowing that your guests are gonna look at you and
say you nailed the pairing. And if you find your
way to this wine, again, a great wine by itself,
not dissing the wine, great wine by itself. But if you found your way
to this wine with this dish, and waited for someone to say,
wow, you nailed the pairing, it’s not gonna happen. Again, you get a mouthful of
sort of stone and limey-ness that has got nothing to
do with the dish at all. So that’s not a good pairing. I hope that I can steer you away from this particular
Riesling with the dish. Maybe Riesling in general, I’m not sure. If there are some specific
Rieslings that you’ve had that are fantastic with
traditional Thanksgiving dinner, please let me know, I’d love
to find the best pairings. I’m not biased against any
kind of wine out there. I just want the good stuff. And maybe the reason that
it’s recommended so many times is because there is something
good, but this isn’t it. People recommended Riesling
because of the acidity. And that that was a very acidic wine that would be great with the dish. But they forget all the other
stuff that goes along with it. That stone and minerality
and a bit of limey-ness. And all that stuff makes it a no-go. So, I know that you,
after a bite of the stuff, you’re gonna have this
weight in your mouth you kind of want washed away. You’re gonna want a wine
that has lots of acid. And Sancerre is known for its acidity. So maybe that’s great. But, Sancerre is also
known for the grassy notes. The herbal notes. And I don’t know if that’s
what you want with this dish. I’m gonna taste the wine by itself and see if I can get an idea if we’re
gonna be in a good place. That’s typical Sancerre flavor. Although this one is a
little bit different. There’s New Zealand Sancerre,
and there’s Loire Sancerre. Loire Sancerre is usually your very dry, high acidity, those grassy
herbal notes I talked about. New Zealand Sancerre is usually high acid but very fruity and expressive. Sometimes the Loire Valley Sancerre can be a combination of those two. And this one strikes me
as kind of a combination of the traditional Sancerre flavors and a little bit of that
tropical fruit sneaking in. And again, I’m left with
a lot of minerality here. So we’ve got high acid, good. Grassiness, good. A little bit of tropical fruit. And Thanksgiving dinner. Is that gonna be a good
combination, I don’t think so. But like I always say, I’m
open minded, I love every wine, so if it works, it works. I just can’t see it happening. Let’s give it a taste
after a bite of food. The reason we taste the
wine after a bite of food is not just because that’s
what you’re gonna be doing when you decide whether this
is a good pairing or not, but because the food,
or really specifically, the food residual, what’s left
in your mouth after a bite of food, will change what
this wine tastes like, and give you a different
flavor in your mouth. So, the experience you’re
getting after a bite of food is not the same experience
you get when you taste the wine by itself. It’s important because a lot of times, when people recommend a pairing, they think that the wine is static. They might say, well the
wine has nice lime flavors. Those lime flavors are gonna
go well with this dish. The issue is that those lime
flavors might be present in your mouth after you
eat a bite of this food. Or they might not. Because again, the food
will change the wine. And make it something different. So I don’t know, I know
what the wine is now. I don’t know what the wine’s gonna be after I take a bite of
this food, so we’ll see. Load everything up on my fork here. And like I said, I’m
getting that feeling now where everything is kind of building up on my palate, in my mouth. A little bit pasty. Not in a bad way. But again, there’s lots of what I call food residual in my mouth right now that A, is gonna change the
wine, and B, I want lifted. So let’s see what we get now. This is not a great example for pairing, but it’s a great example
of how the wine changes. The stoniness was there in this wine. The minerality was there in the wine when I first tasted it by itself. But there were also these
other flavor elements involved. When I tasted it after a bite of food, all I got was that stony minerality. That is not good. The wine itself is a very
nice wine on its own. And with all these
pairings, I’m never saying the wine’s a bad wine, I’m just saying the wine is not a good pairing. And again, great wine, bad pairing. Where it takes me is not
where I want to be at all. This particular pinot noir
is an Oregon pinot noir. Very high quality pinot noir. One of the best, one
of the first producers of pinot noir in Oregon. And one of the ones that is the go-to. So it’s a great wine. But whether it pairs well
is a different thing. It smells great, it smells
kind of like cranberry sauce. So maybe. If the cranberry sauce
compliments the dish, then maybe the wine will. Very light, not heavy. Not a lot of tannin. Sort of dark berry fruit,
not red berry fruit. Like, the cranberry’s a
very bright, tart red berry. This is kind of a darker,
deeper berry fruit. Sort of like a dark red cherry flavor. And that goes well with game, so maybe it works with the dish. When we tasted this dish
with a bunch of wines in our short tasting sessions, we saw that this dish
tended to do something very interesting with the wines. Especially red wines. The dish tended to suck
in and make disappear the fruit and aromatic
flavors in the wine. Why is that important? Because if there aren’t enough
of those aromatic flavors, those fruit flavors in
the wine to begin with, once it gets sucked in, you’re left with a wine
that’s out of balance. You’re left with a wine that’s
all structure and no fruit. And if the wine’s just structure, it’s not gonna be pleasing. I’m not sure if this is going to be great. Only because it doesn’t
seem to have that depth of aromatic flavor, that sort of high concentration of aromatic flavor. I love all wines, it’s
a great tasting wine. Just don’t have my hopes high because the depth of
flavor is not that great. Got a good bite of turkey there. Mellow, mild, very comforting dish. Like I predicted, mouthful of tannin. The tannins are really
driven to the front there. And so I’ve got a lot of
bitterness in my mouth. And they really were pumped up. The fruit flavors in the wine should balance out the structure and the tannins. Once those fruits are
gone, then you’re gonna be left with more tannin
than anything else. When you’re greeted with that bitterness, it’s a rude awakening. What I think is that
you hope that the dish, or the experience of the dish continues to go somewhere good
because you’re in that warm, comfy place with the turkey, and dressing, and the gravy and all of that. And you hope a wine will continue that. This wine stops it cold
with that tart bitterness. Not tart like cranberry
sauce, really sort of bitter. And just puts the brakes
on a good experience. The internet, you let me down. So I’m sure there is
a pinot noir out there that’s gonna be fantastic with this dish. But this particular one, while
it’s a good wine, is not it. So this will not get you that, you know, wink from someone across the table saying, you know, you nailed the pairing. This doesn’t nail the pairing. The zinfandel is gonna
be big, high alcohol. It could have lots of tannin, or not. You know, there are two kinds
of zinfandels out there. If it has lots of tannin, I
don’t think this’ll be good. It could also have lots of fruit. And I know that this dish
needs a lot of fruit. Because the dish itself
sucks in the fruit flavor. I don’t know what it is, and it must be the fat in the gravy. It sucks in the flavor, and can tend to leave the wine out of balance. And tasting bad, tasting like
it has too much structure, too much tannin, and not enough
fruit to balance that out. I’m not expecting good things. I’m sure it’s a good wine,
I’ve tasted this wine before. It’s a tasty wine. Let me taste the wine by
itself, to see if I can guess whether it’s gonna be
a good pairing or not. That is big and rich, and dark and syrupy. And great for some other dish. It would be amazing with,
yeah, people like zinfandel with barbecue, like barbecue ribs. I imagine it could be fantastic with that. People also like it with burgers. I can just see that big,
heavy, syrupy dark fruit just you know, running
all over the turkey. And not playing well at all. And playing well is really what I think makes for a good pairing. You have the experience
that the food started. And that’s a happy, pleasing experience. Then the wine just comes
in and adds something to keep that good feeling going, or even to take it to a better
place and make it better. I can’t imagine that’s gonna do it. But like I always say, you know,
I give every wine a chance. I’m open minded, all I
love is a good pairing. So let’s taste it and see what happens. This wine’s got an interesting problem. I don’t like the pairing. The pairing goes bad in a different way. I mentioned before that the dish can suck in the fruit flavors and
leave you with just structure, and the structure is the tannin,
the acidity to some extent. This does it to some extent. Because the wine is so big and
jammy, and so full of fruit, it does have enough
fruit to survive the dish sort of sucking it in and taking it away. It’s kind of borderline, but
it does have enough fruit. That’s sort of the good
news about the wine. The bad news about the wine
is the fruit that persists, the fruit that you have your mouth, the fruit that is part of the experience, after a bite of this
dish, is the wrong fruit. It’s that really dark, you know, blackberry fruit that is just too dark for this lighter comforting experience. So nothing in this dish
is that heavy and dark. It even, the typical fruit accompaniment, the cranberry sauce,
is a bright red fruit. Good news, the wine
has the fruit character to deliver enough depth of flavor. Bad news, it’s the wrong fruit. So it’s not gonna get
you that wink or that nod from your friends that you
want if it’s a great pairing. There are a few wines that come to mind when something’s going to
pair well with a general or wide variety of dishes. One of those wines is champagne. And not just any old champagne. Champagne itself, you know, is
a brand of different grapes. Some of them are red grapes,
some of them are white grapes. It can have more flavor. This wine is a blanc de blancs champagne. Which is just chardonnay. We chose that because we
knew it was gonna have a cleaner finish, it was
gonna be a cleaner wine, less likely to interfere with
any of the tastes in the dish. blanc de blancs is what makes
this champagne different. One other thing, in all of our research, we found out that there are at least two different kinds of pairing
experiences people like. One kind of experience is
one where the dish goes, gets you going to a good place. Take a sip of the wine. It keeps that good thing going. And it’s really sort of a continuation of the food experience. That’s kind of the obvious
pairing that people think of. And so another experience is one where you just clean the slate. You just, you know, wipe
the chalkboard clean. But do it in a pleasing and beautiful way. We thought that given
that there are so many different flavors on the plate, a great experience could be
that kind of palate cleansing, blackboard erasing experience. And nothing is gonna do that better than a blanc de blancs champagne. The fact that the wine itself is clean, you know, refreshes your palate. The fact that there are bubbles helps lift the weight off the palate
and cleanse the mouth. The fact that it’s high acidity. Again, it’s going to give you that lifting and cleansing aspect. Blanc de blancs champagne
is a winner with this dish. I’ll take you through
what’s going on though. I talked before about the dish. The dish is not highly flavored,
but it is very weighty. It does leave a lot in your
mouth, you want that lifted. One other thing I should mention. Pierre Peters champagne, specifically Pierre
Peters’ blanc de blancs, this is the champagne that Wine Insiders, consumers and industry
people, love to love. So if you show up at the
dinner party with this, people that know their wine, or industry people who are not, are definitely gonna
give you the nod and go, you kind of know what’s going on. So, let me give that a taste
and see what’s happening. Nice aroma. Here, the bubbles are in the forefront. Sometimes you have bubbles
that are soft and subtle. Sometimes you have
bubbles that are much more in the forefront and bigger. I’m gonna say aggressive, but I don’t mean aggressive in a bad
way, kind of assertive. The champagne is kind of
making a nice entrance. Those bubbles will come in
very handy later with the dish. And I’ll talk about that soon. But also, the flavor is
just on the knife edge of neutral and interesting. It’s interesting enough to make you go, you know, there’s something
special about this wine. This is a good wine. I can see this would
be good with the dish. Because of the high acidity. Because of the assertive bubbles. And because of the neutral nature of the aromas or the taste. Let’s get in here and see what happens. I’ve got everything on this fork. It’s a great tasting bite
of Thanksgiving dinner. So. The great thing about
this wine, the first thing that happens when you
put it in your mouth, you get those bubbles coming in. And when Irene and I tasted this wine with the dish,
we talked about how the bubbles did a great job of cleansing the food residual and
cleansing the palate, and we called them scrubbing
bubbles, like the cleanser. But they come in right away, and they do lift that weight, they cleanse your mouth really well. And this dish, because everything here is kind of so sticky,
you really need that. So this is a great wine for that reason. This is nice and neutral
and palate cleansing. But again, interesting enough to say, you know, I’m not drinking nothing, I’m not drinking seltzer. I could drink this wine
with this dish all day long because it’s so light, it’s so refreshing. It’s adding so much to the experience. And what it’s really adding
is refreshing your palate from the weighty, heavy
experience of this dish. But doing it in a beautiful way. This is a pairing we
love, the Pierre Peters champagne, blanc de blancs. This is, I must warn you,
this is about $55 a bottle. Which, you know, some might find pricey for Thanksgiving dinner. You know, some people will
want to or will try to get you to spend a whole lot
more, you don’t need to. And maybe because the
champagne itself is so rich, you know, the bottle will last longer. But I think this is a great experience. When I taste it, it’s got nice acidity, it’s got nice, really, the fruit is almost indistinguishable from
the cranberry fruit. It’s very tart berry, you
know, sort of tart red cherry. Maybe red raspberry. But two things you notice,
one, the flavor is pure. It’s nothing else, it’s
just purely that flavor. And two, this is a concentrated
deep glass of that flavor. That’s gonna be important in a pairing. What we saw when we tasted this dish with a bunch of other
wines is that this dish tends to suck in fruit flavor. So you take a wine that’s
perfectly balanced. You take a sip of that wine
after a bite of this food, the food sucks in that flavor. And if you don’t have
enough flavor in the wine, then what you’re left with is
just the frame of the wine, just the structure, which is just the acidity and the tannin. And that alone is not gonna
be a pleasing experience. You want the wine to have enough fruit so that there’s some fruit left to deliver that sort of reward or that treat. That fruit in the pairing experience to make it a good experience. And this wine, when I tasted it by itself, I can tell it has it. Again, I would say this
wine has depth of flavor and purity of flavor, and
appropriateness of flavor. A flavor that I know, I
can tell it’s gonna work with this dish because
again, if cranberry sauce works for this dish, and it has for years and years and years, this
wine’s gonna work with the dish. So let’s get in here and give it a taste. So I’m gonna get the food residuals so it can have its impact. It’s nice because it’s
got the depth of flavor to survive the food residual. It’s got the purity of
flavor to survive the dish. You’re not left with tons of tannin. There’s some acidity there
to cleanse the food residual. But again, this is a good
example of how a wine can show up at the end
of the pairing experience to make you very happy. So we love this pairing. And I think you’ll love it too. It’s a great glass of wine. It’s a great pure taste to have in your mouth after a bite of food. Serve this, try this, please,
it’s really fantastic. I’m here today with Irene Miller, who is a fantastic sommelier. You know, here at Pairing
Base, we try to work with the best wine
professionals out there. And that’s what Irene is. Irene, do you want to introduce
yourself a little bit? – Hello, my name’s Irene. I am just about to start
as the beverage director at the Dominic Hotel in SoHo. But previously I’ve worked
in New York in several top-rated restaurants, Lincoln,
Del Posto, Le Bernadin. Before that I used to cook. So I have spent a good amount of my life eating and drinking. I’m ready to do some work.
– Fantastic. Okay, so we’re gonna get into this. Again, we wanted you to be able to get a great pairing no matter what. The best way to do it is get these wines. If you can’t, then we want
you to be able to walk into the wine store and say,
I want a blanc de blancs champagne that tastes like X. Or, I want a burgundy that tastes like Y. And so Irene’s gonna talk about what you should ask for specifically. So, do you want to talk
about the champagne first? – So what we have here
is the Pierre Peters, it’s a blanc de blancs. When I taste this wine,
let’s taste it, just to, just to refresh my memory. So what I get here is a lot
of lightness and freshness. Notes of citrus, green apple,
also some ripe pear notes. And then you get this lovely character that happens with champagne as it ages, and it develops this
really nice sort of lightly toasty kind of brioche-y quality. It’s also, you know, the
texture here is very important. The bubbles here, the mousse here is very, very fine, very creamy. So what I find when
you’re eating this dish, you know, the bubbles
help refresh your palate, but there’s also this
kind of lovely creaminess that creates this sort of you know, symbiotic relationship with the food. – So it kind of simulates richness. – It does, but then it
finishes super clean. – Great, great. I remember we tasted another
blanc de blancs champagne that we didn’t like as
much as we like this one. The difference was the bubbles were not as much in the forefront. They were sort of softer bubbles. And they didn’t do as good a
job of cleansing the palate. And we joked that the champagne was sort of like Scrubbing Bubbles. The mousse did a great job
of cleansing your palate, in addition to the acidity. And so these things are key. – Yeah, the acid is super important here. – Yeah, with this dish,
when we tasted it by itself, we noticed that it kind of hangs around in your mouth more than other dishes. Because the gravy is heavy,
because everything in there is kind of heavy and sticky. And so that’s why you want,
whether you know it or not, you want something to lift
the weight off your palate. That coves the champagne, right? – I think so.
– Okay. That was tasty. The other wine we liked
was this Bourgone rouge from Domaine Bachelet. Irene’s gonna talk a little bit about what you’d ask for in the wine store if you can’t find this guy. – I mean, this is just a really
lovely elegant pinot noir. It’s very earth-driven. You get this really pretty
sort of like baking spice note to it, maybe a little bit of cedar, kind of pencil shaving,
but there’s also really kind of classic red fruit, tart cherry. There’s some cranberry
here, I think the cranberry, when you take a bite of this turkey, and you have the cranberry sauce with it, I think it’s really just
an excellent pairing. I don’t think you want
like a super powerful style of burgundy, but
I think that this one, it has enough elegance
and enough structure and enough acidity to be a
really nice pairing with this. – Again, I remember when
we tasted this burgundy against a bunch of other burgundies, it seemed like this one
had much more sort of depth or fruit or more concentration of fruit. Where the dish kind of
made some of the fruit go away a little bit,
there was enough fruit left over to still be
a pairing to the dish. You want to make sure
that you have a burgundy that has some depth of flavor. Would you call it concentration
or just depth of flavor? – I think they go hand in hand. I think you could say one or the other. – The food messes with the wine. But you want to make sure that
the wine can survive that, and stay what you want it to be. And you want it to be that tart red fruit, cranberry, to go with the dish. – And it has a really lovely
mineral character here. I think that some of the
other pinots we tasted were just kind of fruit and not much else. But I think it’s really about the layering of flavor here that makes it
interesting with this dish, which can be, you know, very heavy. – I remember, there was
something really interesting happened when we tasted this before. We tasted it with a bunch
of other pinot noirs. The dish seemed to suck
in or sort of, you know, cancel out the fruit
flavors, or the aromatics, and to leave you with the frame, or the structure of the wine. And so wines that did not have as much sort of concentration or depth of flavor, you were left with just the
structure as the pairing result. And that wasn’t so pleasant. Something that doesn’t have
depth of flavor is going to leave you kind of harsh and
with just sort of the frame, and not the reward of a good pairing. – Right, the flavor gets washed out. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. A quick way of saying that. (laughs) – So to summarize, when
you go to the wine shop, what you should be looking for in terms of a champagne or a sparkling wine, I think what’s important here is that this is a blanc de blancs. So it’s 100% chardonnay. You have a lot of finesse
and a lot of elegance. Fruit character here, you’re
looking at some citrus, some green apple that also has this lovely sort of ripe pear note to it. It has a fineness of mousse and bubbles that makes it really nice and creamy. And then it has this very sort of delicate brioche-y sort of toasty note. With regard to the red, what we’re looking for
here, I would say burgundy is really the key here to the flavor profile you’re looking for. Bright red fruit, tart cherry, cranberry, but the wine also has this very
lovely sort of mineral core. You get baking spice, you get some cedar, maybe some pencil shavings. So something with some
depth, some complexity, and some layering of flavor here. And something that’s not
too big, not too robust. You want tannin, you want acid here, but you don’t want a monster. – So you saw us taste all
these wines with the dish. Some of them we loved, some
of them we didn’t love at all. Some of them got kind
of messy in the mouth after a bite of food,
and some of them were, just took over the whole experience. It wasn’t what we wanted. We hope you try some of these pairings. We really hope you try the
ones that we liked best. And we hope you’ll tell us what you think. Also, if you’ve got your own ideas that you’ve tasted with a
dish and think are fantastic, please let us know those too
in the comment box below. So thanks a ton for watching,
and don’t forget to subscribe.

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