From the Experts: Finding the right pairing for your Thanksgiving turkey

Editor’s Note: This is the second in what we hope will become a continuing series from Valley professionals offering tips on their trade. Do you have an area of expertise that you’d like to share with our readership? The range of topics is essentially endless, whether it be home improvement or automotive, or even cooking or sewing. E-mail if you are interested. Today’s installment comes from Troy Phillips of Battle Born Wine.

by Troy Phillips, Battle Born Wine

Thanksgiving is right around the corner which means family, friends, and of course a turkey cooked to perfection. With the In-Laws in town, wine isn’t a luxury, it’s medicinal. The daunting question of course is, “What wine do I pair with my turkey?!”

There are some classic rules that apply, but flexibility is always an option. The main idea is that you are showcasing a feast centered around a turkey, so you want something to highlight the meal you spent 4 hours prepping and cooking.

You don’t want to overpower the bird with a heavy or tannic wine, so i would avoid: Cabernet, Merlot, Zin, Malbec, Syrah, and most Red Blends.

If you’re a red only drinker, I would stick with the following: Pinot Noir (a home run every time), Bonarda (a native grape of Argentina), or — my personal favorite — Gamay in the form of Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais Nouveau is from young form of the Gamay grape that is youthful, vibrant, and meant to be consumed turkey. (the town of Beaujolais shuts down and throws a party – think CV Days centered entirely around this grape – and is meant to be consumed immediately after release until Christmas).

Still classified as dry red wines, these three are fruit forward (not sweet) and lighter in body and will compliment Turkey’s white meat alone, with cranberry, or with a light or heavy gravy.

For white wine, classic pairing include dry Gewurztraminer or dry Riesling, or dry sparkling wines like Spanish Cava or Italian Prosecco. It’s a common misnomer that most Riesling and Gewurztraminer are sweet; however, this could not be further from the truth. Most of these, whether German or domestic, are bone dry and have a complex aromatics and flavor profile that is exemplary with turkey.

Some of my favorites include:

Rudi Wiest Mosel Riesling (Kabinet = dry): Ripe peach, Meyer Lemon, with a rich mouthfeel

Casal Garcia Sparkling Vinho Verde (Portugal): Dry, with green and yellow apple, hints of fresh bread bread and lemon zest

We are having our Annual “Wines that Pair with Turkey” Tasting Thursday, Nov. 21st from 5-7 p.m. (cost $10 w/logo glass), don’t miss it!

I can pair a litany of Craft Beer, Sake, and other exotic drink if you’re looking to spice things up and go non-traditional too. Find us on Facebook for unadvertised specials! We also do Gift Certificates, Gift Baskets which are perfect for the holidays.


Troy Phillips is a Certified Sommelier and owns  Battle Born Wine – 1448 Us Hwy 395 N in Gardnerville.  775-782-7684. Store hours:  Sun. 10am-3pm, Mon.-Sat. 11am-7pm

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