Thanksgiving Dinner Wine – Tips and Types

So you’ve drawn the lucky straw and all you have been asked to bring is the Thanksgiving dinner wine. Or you are hosting and have already made your last trip to the store for potatoes and butter but now need to focus on the beverages you will serve.

Mo Wine Please

~ Thanksgiving Dinner Wine ~

There are several factors you will want to consider before heading out to your local wine shop.


Are you the only person supplying the wine? Can you get a rough idea of how many at the table will be wine drinkers?

A bottle of wine will generally yield four glasses of wine.

If you are providing wine for 10 moderate drinkers and you assume they will each drink two glasses, you will go through about 5 bottles of wine.

Ten people times two glasses each, equals twenty glasses. Divide that by four glasses per bottle: five bottles.  (Aren’t math word problems fun?!)

You might want to buy a little extra because I don’t know about you, but I’d ALWAYS prefer to have too much than too little.

Price Point

The price point you choose for each bottle of wine will likely depend on how many bottles you will be bringing. If you are contributing ten bottles you might not splurge on $50 per bottle wine.

Unless you want to. In that case, send me your address so I can come over.

You might also want to take a mental survey of who will be drinking the wine. If most people in the group tell you that they can’t tell the difference between a good wine and a less good wine, you might want to get a few moderately priced bottles for them and then splurge a teensy bit on a bottle or two to share with those you know will appreciate it.

Does that sound horrible and snobby?

I hope not. I like to think of it as being sensible in your purchases.

The bottom line: determine how many bottles you will need and how much, in total, you are willing to spend.  Then you can decide what combination of low, moderate and higher priced bottles fits your budgeted amount.  Another math word problem! Woohoo!

Red or White

I’m more of a red wine drinker, myself, but many folks prefer white. In fact I would probably skew my Thanksgiving purchases to be 2/3 white wine and 1/3 red wine. This may be a gross generalization but I think most red wine drinkers will drink white but many white wine drinkers will not drink red.

Remember, some folks prefer that only white wine be served in their home because of the potential for red wine stains on their carpet or upholstery. Everyone is entitled to make the rules in their own house, right?

Before bringing wine to someone’s house you should determine if they are this type of control freak concerned homeowner.


Be a pal. Put both your red and white wine in the refrigerator for a while before heading over to grandma’s. If you are hosting, try to save some refrigerator space for the wine or if it is chilly outside, store it on your back porch.

Now no one is going to test you by sticking a thermometer in your wine glass, but just as a general guide here is what Wine Spectator suggests for the serving temperature of wines:

  • Light white wine, Rosé, sparkling wine – 40 to 50 degrees
  • Heartier white wine, light red wine – 50 to 60 degrees
  • Full-bodied red wine – 60-65 degrees

Just use common sense. The lighter the wine, the cooler it should be served.

Pull your reds out of the cooler earlier so they warm up a titch. Pull out your white wines maybe 15 minutes before serving.

It is always better to pour a wine a little on the cool side because the glass will warm it up a bit. Pour warm wine into a glass and you will end up with warmer wine.

And that’s just a crime.

Particular Varietals

Experts are all across the board on this one. There is no right answer to the question “what wine pairs best with Thanksgiving dinner”.

Here are a few suggestions:



Sauvignon Blanc – A nice, light, palette friendly wine. Its citrusy flavor provides a nice balance with turkey and gravy.

Riesling – This wine is usually noted for its honey or apple notes. For this reason, it’s a great match with the sweet/savory combination of dishes.

Viognier – As I’ve said before, this wine is like the Pinot Noir of white wines. It has enough body to stand up to hearty food but it will not overpower more delicate selection.


Pinot Noir – You knew I was going to pick this one, right? Pinot Noir is just the perfect food wine. More and more people are jumping on the bandwagon. Folks who formerly swore off of red wine are finding they really love this wine. If you are not sure of the preferences of your guests, Pinot Noir is a safe pick.

Cabernet Franc – I hadn’t really thought about this one until I read this article from the LA Times food section. It makes sense, though. Especially for the guests who enjoy a heartier red wine, the cherry notes that are generally associated with a Cabernet Franc would pair well with stuffing and cranberries.

Zinfandel – Many folks think of this as the spiciest of red wines. It often has notes of pepper and red berries. This is a great wine for people for folks who enjoy a big wine that will stand up to spicier, heartier dishes.

Hendry zin

Byff – this one’s for you:

Please, please, please remember to be responsible on Thanksgiving Day and every day. Be safe. Don’t drink and drive.

I want you to come back and visit me here so you can tell me what wines you served with Thanksgiving dinner!

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  1. May I state categorically that I am very upset!
    Why, why, why do we do Thanksgiving so darn early up here in Canada? This post held a wealth of information I could have used back in October. Who knew the lighter the wine, the cooler the temp? I mean I know white should be cold but I never, ever followed the thought through. Oh I just love this post. Thanks Mo.
    I am keeping this gem of a post for Christmas dinner.
    Kelly McKenzie recently posted…Children’s Crafts That Perhaps Only a Parent Could LoveMy Profile

    • Hahaha! Glad you enjoyed it! Sorry it didn’t help with your Thanksgiving but now you can impress your kids and your family with all your new wine knowledge!
      Since Christmas dinner is quite similar to Thanksgiving dinner with gobs and gobs of rich, savory foods, this advice will indeed help you planning your Christmas wine selection.
      Mo Lux recently posted…5 Ways I Stay Connected With Loved OnesMy Profile

  2. Is it sad that I think I’m looking forward to the wines we have for Thanksgiving dinner more than the food? Ummm…. No. I’m going to go with no on this one!
    Kristen recently posted…Old school jamsMy Profile

  3. This is a great post Mo! I am sending it to my stepmother right now, as I know she is in charge of the wine selection for their Thanksgiving day! :)-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted…Is That A Turkey Disguised As Elton John?My Profile

  4. Great post Mo! Have a great Thanksgiving – hope it’s filled with great wine!!

  5. I’m looking forward to a glass of wine on Thanksgiving. One of my clients just sent me 6 bottles of wine, none of which I have tried before. I can’t wait! The labels look cool anyway…not that that should be the judge, but I like to see cool branding. I’m learning a lot about wine from you.
    Michelle recently posted…Epiphanie Camera Bag Review and GiveawayMy Profile

  6. everyone always asks what i’m craving while pregnant. I WANT WINE!!!
    catherine gacad recently posted…20 Year High School ReunionMy Profile

  7. This line gave me a bit of a chuckle:

    “Before bringing wine to someone’s house you should determine if they are this type of (control freak) concerned homeowner.”

    I love me some red wine, but don’t care for white at all. So, yeah, I’d definitely need to determine how much of a “concerned homeowner” my host is. 🙂
    Ryan recently posted…Guide to Wine Serving TemperatureMy Profile

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