Turkey Wine Pairing

When it comes to wines that will work best with something like turkey, the best options are expressive white wines like Gewürztraminer, a Chardonnay, or a Riesling.

These will match the weight of the turkey that you are eating while also complementing it with the fruity and refreshing flavors that define them. 

Turkey Wine Pairing

However, this is not to say that you can not pair turkey with red wine. If you want to pair your turkey with a red wine then you will want something also fruity and lighter with low tannin content.

This is something like a Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais. These will be perfect for giving the unique flavor you get from a red wine while also not overpowering the more subtle flavors you get with turkey meat. 

We have of course taken into account the festive season when it comes to the pairings, however, we have also considered turkey dishes which are eaten yearlong like a sandwich filling or turkey sausages. 

So, if you are planning to eat turkey in any form and you want to know what wine is going to be the best for pairing with it, keep reading to get our best recommendations!

Best Wine Pairings For Turkey

As we mentioned in the introduction, the best thing to do when it comes to pairing wine with your turkey is to take into account the intensity and type of flavor you are getting from your turkey.

Then, it’s a matter of complementing this with your wine choice and not overpowering it. 

Turkey is similar to other meats like pork and chicken in its ability to absorb flavors from sauces and glazes quite easily. 

Because of this, the best option for pairing wine with your turkey can change depending on the secondary flavors, so make sure to keep this in mind when looking through our top picks!

Chardonnay & Turkey

Now, for our favorite option when it comes to pairing wine with turkey, we have Chardonnay. Specifically, we recommend a more full bodied Chardonnay, especially if it has had some oak aging as well.

This is because the oak will usually add some toastier notes of butterscotch and vanilla and these complement the more neutral flavors of the Turkey. 

You can also get the refreshing flavors of apple, peach, pear, and lemon from the Chardonnay. This is perfect for giving you some extra refreshment, which is even more necessary if the turkey has ended up a little drier than you would have hoped. 

Chardonnay has a delicious buttery texture, which is a great match for the savory flavors you get from a perfectly roasted turkey. 

This wine also tends to have more creamy notes, and these blend perfectly with the salty and succulent flavors you get from the meat which is an intensely flavorful combo.

If you want a particularly memorable combination of Chardonnay and turkey, then follow our advice for an oaked Chardonnay because the subtle tones of the oakiness will bring out the depth of the turkey.

You also have a well balanced acidity with this pick which suits the turkey perfectly.

Riesling & Turkey

For another great pick that will compliment a turkey dinner, you have to consider Riesling. This pick is especially good for how it works well with a wider variety of foods alongside turkey, as opposed to just complementing the turkey like the aforementioned Chardonnay. 

As you know, especially in North America, the turkey will be served alongside a massive variety of different side dishes, so having a wine that will complement these as well is a massive bonus. 

This is a crisp white wine – with a zingy taste – that is well known for how it complements a wide variety of different foods. It has sharper flavors with lemon and lime sticking out, as well as some minerality as well. It is perfect for pairing with something more subtle like Turkey. 

You will find that the mineral notes you get from the Riesling are perfect for going with the earthy flavors you tend to get from the turkey with gravy. It also has a good level of acidity which is perfect for cutting through fats and carbohydrates as well. 

What’s more, the Riesling will work with the mashed potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower, making it perfect for the festive season. 

You can get Riesling ranging between sweet and dry, but for the best option for a turkey dinner, we recommend off dry Riesling which just has a note of sweetness. 

Going off dry is the perfect choice since the sweetness is just enough to notice alongside the turkey, but not close to being overwhelming, which is what you want for a wine that is complimenting a meal. 

Gewürztraminer & Turkey

Turkey Wine Pairing

Now, for something different, we have to recommend a more aromatic Gewürztraminer, as this is a refreshing white wine.

This actually goes best with leftover turkey, especially something like turkey sandwiches, however, this is not to say that it will not work with a turkey dinner as well. 

As mentioned, we love the aromatic taste you get from this wine, with notes of lychee, black pepper, rose petals, apricot, and peach.

All of these flavors together are infused into the more neutral turkey flavor, and it makes getting through any leftover turkey easy, and even refreshing. This combination makes you look forward to getting through your leftover turkey. 

The Gewürztraminer tends to have a slightly more oily texture which is perfect when paired with something like the sauce in a turkey sandwich. Gewürztraminer is also known for its higher alcohol content which is worth noting. 

Because of this, if you plan to have a tipple at midday when you still need to be presentable in the afternoon, then stick to a lower portion size.

Pinot Noir & Turkey

Now, as we mentioned in the introduction, it is also possible to pair your turkey with a red wine, and if you want to do this, then we have to recommend going with a mid ranged Pinot Noir. 

This is a lighter red wine that has some tingly flavors like cherry, strawberry, and raspberry (Also check out Cherry Wines: The Guide). This has an earthier tone as well, meaning it goes amazingly well with the more subtle and savory flavors you get from turkey. 

However, one of the issues that can come from using Pinot Noir in this setting is that it can be a little too expensive, so if you want to serve it at a holiday meal, be wary. But don’t go too cheap either.

If your Pinot Noir is less than $25 a bottle, this can often have a strong artificial flavor that tastes more like Kool Aid than wine.

This is why we only recommend getting Pinot Noir to go with Turkey if you are serving a smaller crowd since if you want to get a good Pinot Noir, this can cost more than $40 a bottle. 

However, the combination of Pinot Noir and turkey is hard to beat, with the cranberry notes of the wine soaking into the meat for an amazing combination. With good Pinot Noir you can also get some delicious notes of truffle which are perfect for pairing with turkey.

Cariñena & Dark Meat Turkey

Now, if you love dark turkey meat, then you are going to have to try a Spanish Cariñena. This is because it is one of the best options for pairing with the unique flavor of turkey’s darker meat. 

Cariñena has a rich and fruitier flavor for a red wine, and the notes it offers are similar to a cranberry sauce making it a great option for pairing with turkey. 

You will also find that Cariñena has more earthy notes, which is why it pairs well with the complimentary earthy flavors of the dark meat on the turkey, and the turkey gravy. 

However, we do not recommend pairing a Cariñena with the white meat on the turkey. This is because the flavors will be too bold and they will end up overwhelming the meat.

It is worth noting that there are other types of Cariñena available in France under similar names, but these tend to be a little too full bodied and end up overpowering the flavor of any turkey.

Beaujolais Villages & Turkey

This is a classic picnic wine for a reason, and this is why we love pairing this wine with something like a turkey sandwich in particular. This is also lower in alcohol, so if you want something which you can enjoy midday, even if you have a lower tolerance, it’s is a great option.

It has fresher cherry and raspberry flavors which go well with the turkey. There are also earthier notes, especially if you are buying a higher quality version of the wine, and these will complement the similar tones of the dark meat in the turkey well. 

Beaujolais Villages is also a great red wine to serve with a turkey dinner if the crowd is less experienced with wine. 

This is because the lighter and fruitier flavor of the wine is a crowd pleaser. It also pairs well with side dishes which is perfect if you are serving the turkey alongside a bigger meal. 


Hopefully this guide has informed you of all the best combinations when it comes to pairing your turkey with wine.

As you can see we generally have a preference for pairing the turkey with white wine, however, this is not to say that red wine will not work; you will just need to be more careful. 

This is because turkey tends to have a much more subtle taste when compared to other more intense meats. This means that the flavor of the turkey is easy to overpower with a fuller wine, and because of this, you need to go for wine with a lighter flavor!

Sarah Perez
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