How to Pair Wine With Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is hands-down my favorite meal of the year—Christmas of course wins the “favorite holiday” category, but let’s face it…what other meal do you have mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes on the dinner table at the same time?! (theoretically, I know I could do this any time, but it is more special if it only happens once a year!)

This is a holiday that exemplifies everything I stand for—enjoying a great meal around the dinner table with family and friends. This is a holiday that’s ALL about giving thanks, spending time with those you love, cooking, eating great food, and relaxing. It’s what I aspire to do every day of my life.

Thanksgiving also happens to be my favorite because I use it as an excuse to open a bunch of wine and beer, give everyone at least 5 glasses to *taste* said wine and beer, and have fun pairing with the myriad of side dishes on the table. It really is a dream come true for me.

Although I open about 9 different wine and beers every year, no matter how many people are over, I want to make things easy for you and give you my two must-have wines for the Thanksgiving table plus a couple of “runners up” that you can choose to add to your holiday as well.

Wine #1: Beaujolais

Bow-jo-what? Bow-Jo-Lay. This is THE wine to buy for Thanksgiving if you only plan to drink one thing all night. Beaujolais comes from Burgundy, France, and is made from a grape called Gamay. The wine is light-bodied like Pinot Noir and has lots of red fruit (think tart cherry, currant, and cranberry) going on. It also tends to be a bit herbal and earthy, depending on the kind you get. A wine that tastes like cranberries and has herbal notes to it is going to be PERFECT with Thanksgiving. Bam.

Dani's Picks: 

  • Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages $
  • Georges DuBeouf Beaujolais Villages $
  • any Cru Beaujolais $$
    • Morgon
    • Moulin-a-Vent
    • Brouilly
    • Cote de Brouilly
    • Julians
    • Chenas
    • Fleurie
    • Regnie
    • Chiroubles
    • Saint-Amour

Even better is that Beaujolais is kinda out of fashion right now, so you can get a GREAT bottle for under $20. Beaujolais Nouveau comes out around this time every year so that is a fine option, or if you want to spend a few extra bucks go for Beaujolais Villages. And then if you want to get really fancy you can do a Cru Beaujolais. Any of these will be perfect with Thanksgiving. If you don’t think you will like this wine, please just trust me and try it with this meal. It is such a good pairing that it won’t matter if you like bigger reds or whatever your reason is.

Wine #2: Riesling

Before you go all “I don’t like sweet wine” on me here, let’s think about the kinds of dishes that are served at Thanksgiving: sweet potatoes. Cranberries. Creamed Corn. I see a lot of sweet dishes on the Thanksgiving table. Sweet food does NOT go well with dry wine. Any Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, whatever that you put on the table that doesn’t have sweetness to it will not work with food that has sweetness. Therefore, Riesling is awesome with Thanksgiving because it has great acidity (perfect for food pairing) and a hint of sugar which will match any sweetness in dishes. Make sure to pick one that isn’t dry, but also don’t pick one that is dessert-sweet. We’re looking for off-dry or “kabinett” level here.

Dani’s Picks:

  • Elk Cove Estate Riesling, Willamette Valley OR $$
  • Dr. Loosen "Blue Slate" or "Dr. L", Mosel Germany $$
  • Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling, Columbia Valley WA $
Thanksgiving pinterest thumb.jpg

Runner Ups

Pinot Noir

Similar to Gamay, this is a good pick if you can’t find Beaujolais or are really that afraid of trying something new.

Dani's Picks:

  • Rodney Strong Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley CA $$
  • Adelsheim Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley OR $$
  • Erath Pinot Noir, OR $

Gewurztraminer

this wine often has some residual sugar in it, acting like Riesling while pairing. Gewurztraminer is also known as the “spicy” grape, meaning it carries spice aromas and flavors like cinnamon, clove, ginger, and allspice (matching many flavors on the table)

Dani's Picks:

  • Trimbach Gewurztraminer, Alsace France $$
  • Columbia Crest Gewurztraminer, Columbia Valley WA $

Sparkling Wine

This is a great wine to have before dinnertime because it can get the party going. It also provides a nice palate-cleanser throughout the meal because those bubbles will scrub flavors off your palate. If you pick an off-dry style (one with a hint of sweetness), it will also pair well with dishes on the table (please refer back to the Riesling comments to understand why).

Dani's Picks:

  • Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine, Anderson Valley CA $$
  • Any Champagne
  • Freixenet (or any) Cava, Spain $

Looking for a wine to pair with pumpkin pie? Sorry, I’m not a fan of wine with pie. Beer wins that race. But if you must, opt for a sweet wine like Riesling or Moscato. Personally I might have some Bailey’s and coffee this year.

Shrimp Ceviche Tacos and Sauvignon Blanc Pairing

These tacos take shrimp ceviche from appetizer to full-blown dinner! No need to turn on the oven...or even the stove. Pair them with a crisp Chilean Sauvignon Blanc to complete the meal.

Easy Shrimp Ceviche Tacos make this favorite South American condiment into a perfect meal. Pair with a refreshing Chilean Sauvignon Blanc | CaretoPair.com

Welcome to the dog days of summer, winos! Today is the first day of August and I have been feeling the heat...because this is the first season I've spent without air conditioning in a long time.  Our house has a swamp cooler that instantly makes the house freezing cold, which isn't exactly my cup of tea. So its been a battle deciding which is better--wearing close to nothing and still feeling too hot, or having to put on a sweater in the middle of summer because that damn swamp cooler is blasting in my face...

Needless to say, I've been blaming the heat as an excuse not to do any cooking in the kitchen. But we still gotta eat, right? Enter: a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc and shrimp ceviche tacos. Dinner. DONE.

Easy Shrimp Ceviche Tacos make this favorite South American condiment into a perfect meal. Pair with a refreshing Chilean Sauvignon Blanc | CaretoPair.com

Have you ever made ceviche before? There are many different variations, but my favorite is made with fresh shrimp.  You do not cook the shrimp--simply soak it in fresh lime juice for about 15 minutes which will "cook" it. If you are too afraid to eat raw shrimp, then go ahead and throw them on the stove for a few minutes (and risk heating up your house!). But remember that millions of people have eaten ceviche with raw fish for many, many years. And you gotta live a little dangerously every once in a while, right? Just use fresh, good-quality shrimp and take that risk!

The Pairing

If you have ever taken a wine class with me before, you may remember that one of my favorite summer wines is Sauvignon Blanc. In particular, I love Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. Not that I have anything against other countries that produce this little wine, I just think I found the sweet spot with examples from Chile.

Sauvignon Blanc is a light-bodied, crisp and refreshing dry white wine that features aromas and flavors of tropical and citrus fruits. Most usually have a "green" character to them too, with notes of bell pepper or jalapeno (one of the easiest indicators when you're guessing what kind of wine you have in front of you).

Sauvignon Blanc from cool climates, like New Zealand, have ripping acidity and "unripe" fruit flavors. Ones from warmer climates, like the USA, will be heavier-bodied and "riper". I like to think of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc as right in the middle: they have crisp acidity and a great balance between ripe and unripe fruit flavors. They also have a great price tag. Chilean wines are a great value to the American customer since you can easily find a bottle under $15.

Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc makes an amazing pairing to shrimp ceviche tacos| CaretoPair.com

So for my shrimp ceviche taco dinner, I chose the Gran Reserva Series Riberas Sauvignon Blanc from Concha y Toro to serve alongside it. This wine had everything I wanted in a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc: crisp acidity that stood up to the high acidity in the ceviche, refreshing lime and grapefruit notes that went alongside the flavors in the tacos, and a clean finish. This wine in particular comes from the Colchagua Valley (within Rapel Valley) which is known for its cool climate and perfect for the Sauvignon Blanc grape. Concha y Toro is not a hard wine to find in wine shops, but if you don't have access to it, any Chilean Sauvignon Blanc will go great with this meal.

Easy Shrimp Ceviche Tacos make this favorite South American condiment into a perfect meal. Pair with a refreshing Chilean Sauvignon Blanc | CaretoPair.com

The Recipe

I really tried to be creative with this one, guys, but at the end of the day, you gotta keep things classic and simple! I love ceviche so much that I wanted to make it into a main course for dinner. Usually we serve ceviche as a salsa with corn chips, so instead I served them street-taco style in corn tortillas. Top with a little avocado and cilantro, and you've got yourself a meal! Simply use any ceviche recipe you'd like (many have different kinds of fish in them instead of shrimp), but here is the one I used. Happy Pairing!

Shrimp Ceviche Tacos and Sauvignon Blanc Pairing

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 20 mins

Serves: 4

Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 1 pound high quality peeled and deveined raw shrimp
  • 1 Cup lime juice, divided (from about 2 limes)
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 Cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • Small corn or wheat tortillas
  • chopped avocado, cilantro and lime wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. Place the shrimp in a large, nonmetalic mixing bowl. Add 1/2 Cup of lime juice and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the cucumber and tomatoes and add to another bowl along with the cilantro and red onion. Seed the jalapeno and mince it well, add to the same bowl. Mix in the remaining 1/2 Cup of lime juice with the vegetables.
  3. When the shrimp have finished "cooking", add them along with any remaining juices into the bowl with the other vegetables. Mix well to incorporate.
  4. Set tortillas onto plates (double up if they are a little flimsy) and top with the ceviche mixture. Top with chopped avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice, if desired. Serve immediately.

Thirsty for More? Try these other summer recipes and wine pairings:

Broiled Swordfish with Lemon Butter Sauce

Spicy, Creamy Chipotle Shrimp Paired with Albarino

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Paired with Gewurztraminer

What Wine to Pair With Chicken Wings

Chicken wings usually go hand-in-hand with beer, but what if you are in the mood for a glass of wine? Today's chicken wing wine pairing will help you out when you want to go beyond wings and beer.

Today's pairing might be considered the ultimate challenge for wine, but I'm doing it anyway! Why is it such a challenge?

Because wings generally do NOT pair well with wine.

In chicken wings, its all about the sauce; and wing sauce is usually spicy or sweet. Spicy and sweet are flavors that are incredibly difficult to match up to wine. Spicy foods enhance the perception of alcohol and tannin in red wine, so forget drinking any reds with wing sauce that has any sort of kick to it (which is most of them). And generally you need a wine that is just as sweet, if not more sweet, than the food you're pairing it with. Since 90% of wines are dry out there, they won't go well with your sweet wing sauce.

What to Pair with Chicken Wings

So...we can't do any red wines or dry wines, so what are we left with? Sweet, white wine. (And you thought wings were manly.)

Men, put your egos away for 2 seconds and realize that sweet wine and hot, spicy chicken wings pair perfectly together. Sweetness in wine actually cools down the effects of spicy foods, so the two go hand-in-hand. My number one wine to pair with wings is off-dry Riesling. Off-dry means that it has a touch of sweetness but won't be too sweet or overwhelming like a dessert-sweet Riesling will be.

Look for a German Riesling that says "Kabinett" on the bottle. Do not buy anything that says "Trocken", as that is German for "dry" (which will taste terrible with our wings, as we pointed out earlier). If you are buying a domestic Riesling, take a look at the label and see if the level of sweetness is stated. Ideally you want something with a little sugar but not too crazy. Stay away from any bottle that says "Icewine" (it'll be way too sweet).

Dani's Recommendations for Commonly-Available Riesling:

  • Dr. Loosen "Estate Kabinett" Riesling (Mosel, Germnay)
  • Dr. Loosen "Dr. L" Riesling (Mosel, Germany)
  • Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling (Washington)
  • Anew Riesling (Washington)
Chicken wings make a tough wine pairing, but some wines do work! Check out Dani's recommendation for pairing wine and spicy chicken wings together | CaretoPair.com

Other Libations that Work

There's a few other sweet wines out there that can be great with chicken wings. Just make sure the wine is actually sweet as some producers make "dry" styles. And dry wine with sweet and spicy chicken wings equals disaster! Try:

  • Gewurztraminer
  • Moscato
  • Sparkling wine made in the "Extra Dry" or "Demi-Sec" style. Learn More.

And then, of course, there's beer...who's bubbles will scrub away all the spice lingering in your mouth from those chicken wings. Beer really is a no-brainer with wings, so stay tuned for my next post which will highlight the best ones to pair it with.

Have fun feeling extra-fancy with your wine and chicken wings! To make your own wings at home, I really like this recipe from Living Lou.

Chicken Wings can be a tough dish for wine pairing, but there are some wines that work! Dani from Care to Pair lists out what your wine needs to have in order to pair with sweet or spicy chicken wings | CaretoPair.com

What Wine to Pair with Fried Chicken

Did you just pick up a bucket of chicken or heating up the deep fryer to make it at home? Instantly make fried chicken fancy by pairing it with some bubbly!

A few months ago my sister told me she was making her boyfriend his favorite home-cooked meal, fried chicken, and asked me what wine to pair with it. My first thought: what?! Who drinks wine with fried chicken? Then I thought: why not? On the rare occasion that I eat fried chicken, I'm pairing it with beer. But my sister was making it for a special occasion and wanted to serve it with wine, so okay! You want wine with your fried chicken? You got it! So thus, I bring you a post on pairing fried chicken and wine.

The Disaster

In an attempt to make all our meals at home these days without the dependence of pre-made food at the grocery store or fast-food restaurants, I decided to make fried chicken at home (which I had never done before). And when I say "I", I mean I completely pawned this one off on my husband. For those of you who make fried chicken at home...how do you do it?! For those of you looking to make this dish for the first time at home: proceed with caution.

This was by far the most intense, time-consuming, dish-dirtying, smoke-detector-going-off meal we've ever made. Between getting the oil to the right temperature and then keeping it at the right temperature, this took way longer than I had expected. I actually abandoned my husband after the first batch to go take pictures of the chicken and the poor guy was cursing every other word while getting splattered and burned with hot oil. Somehow he even managed to spill a bunch of oil down the front of the stove, to which the dog had a field day. It was one of those meals that you told yourself you'll never make again...until you try it. And then it all became clear. Best fried chicken I've ever had in my entire life. Now I know why the South makes such a big deal of it!

The Pairing

As you can clearly see in the pictures, I paired fried chicken with bubbly.

But what kind of bubbles, Dani??

So a big reason why beer goes well with anything fried is because the carbonation you get in beer will cut through fat. In case you didn't know, that fried goodness in fried chicken is alllll fat. So pairing a fried food with bubbly wine will do the same thing that beer does. Bonus: bubbly wine almost always has high acidity which will also cut through the fattiness in fried chicken.

The best sparkling wine to pair with fried chicken is one with a hint of sweetness. In the wine world, we would call this an "Extra Dry" style of sparkling wine. I know, confusing, right? Extra Dry denotes that there's a teeny tiny bit of sugar left in the bottle of bubbly, which will pair excellently with the juicy sweetness in the fried chicken.  You'll find bottles of Extra Dry almost anywhere sparkling wine is sold; in fact, you'll see it right on the label, so you'll know you're making the right purchase. All kinds of wine come in the Extra Dry style, including domestic sparkling wine, Cava, and Champagne. So whatever you decide to purchase will fit your budget no matter what that is.

**on that note: Cava is one of the best values of sparkling wine out there. You can find bottles as little as $8/btl. This is one of my favorite value wines if the occasion doesn't call for Champagne**

But I Don't Have Sparkling Wine at the House. What Else Goes with Fried Chicken?

I know we all don't just have cases of extra dry sparkling wine lying around the house. If you don't have access to any bubbles, fear not: Other pairings will work:

  • Chardonnay. One with some oak and butter will complement the sweetness of the chicken nicely.
  • Sauvignon Blanc. Most SB will have wonderfully high acidity that will cut nicely through the fatty fried bits.
  • Beer. Almost any kind, actually. My favorite beer style to pair with fried food is Extra Special Bitter (ESB). Check out this post to find out more.

At the end of the day, just drink what you like with fried chicken, whether that be sweet tea, soda, beer or wine. Although there are some rules when it comes to food pairings, rules are meant to be broken.

To make the same fried chicken recipe that I used (highly recommended, although intense and time-consuming), click here.

Spicy, Creamy Chipotle Shrimp Paired With Albarino

Chipotle Cream Shrimp Paired with Albarino. This easy meal gets cooked up in 10 minutes! Make it spicy...or not. Serve over Rice | CaretoPair.com

Looking for a shrimp dish that isn't pasta or tacos? Here's your answer. Chipotle Cream Shrimp is quick yet delectable, easy enough for a weeknight but fancy enough for date-night-in. Serve it with rice and a glass of Albarino to complete the meal.

Okay y'all, let's talk about how great shrimp is for two seconds. My family never ate shrimp when I was growing up. We never really ate anything from the ocean considering we lived in the Midwest and my mom is 100% Polish. Makes sense, right?

Well my poor mother is missing out! Shrimp is so easy to make! I just love (great) food that cooks fast. And we're not talking about putting something in the microwave, either. I love shrimp, but it is hard to find recipes out there that don't involve the shrimp being in tacos or pasta. So when I discovered this way of making shrimp, I rushed to the store (literally) to try it out.

Chipotle Cream Shrimp Paired With Albarino White Wine | CaretoPair.com

First time I made it--not spicy enough. So I made it again. Perfect. And the best news? Only took me 15 minutes. So whether its date-night-in or just an I'm-in-a-shrimp-kind-of-mood weeknight, this is a dish to add to your menu.

The Pairing

Pair this Chipotle Cream Shrimp with a glass of Albarino. If you don't have access to Albarino, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc will pair nicely as well. Albarino is an interesting grape that has gained popularity in the states in the past 5 or 6 years. It produces an aromatic wine with primary aromas of citrus (think orange, grapefruit, lemon) and stone fruit (like peaches and nectarines). It can also be reminiscent of sea spray, given that the vineyards that produce Albarino in the "green" northwestern coast of Spain are in close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The bright, crisp, refreshing character will cut right through the spice and cream in this shrimp dish, making you think of a bright sunny day no matter what time of year it is.

Chipotle Cream Shrimp Paired with Albarino White Wine | CaretoPair.com

The Recipe

Serve this shrimp over white or brown rice, or on its own! My "side dish" of choice is chips and guacamole...highly appropriate. For the wine, use 1/4 Cup of the Albarino you'll be serving with it afterwards. Or if you have any other dry white wine that needs to be used up, anything will work.

Spicy and Creamy Chipotle Shrimp

Author: Dani

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 10 mins

Total time: 15 mins

Serves: 2-3

Recipe adapted from The Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup flour
  • 4 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 8 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1/4 Cup dry white wine (you can use the albarino you will be pairing this meal with. Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay would work too)
  • 1 Cup heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsp chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (keep the seeds for added heat)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp garlic (about 3 cloves, minced)

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, 4 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat.
  2. Melt 3 Tbsp of butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add half the shrimp (or all, depending on how big your pan is) and saute until browned, about 2 minutes. Flip each shrimp and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  3. When the shrimp are just cooked through, remove them from the pan onto a plate. Melt an additional 3 Tbsp of butter in the pan and repeat the above process with the remaining uncooked shrimp. Set them aside when finished.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 additional Tbsp of butter. Once melted, add the wine. Simmer until it has thickened, 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the cream, chopped chipotle chiles, worchestershire sauce, and garlic. Stir to combine.
  6. Return the shrimp to the pan to heat through. Serve immediately over brown or white rice and garnished with chopped cilantro.

 

Spicy and Creamy Chipotle Shrimp Paired with Albarino | CaretoPair.com

Happy Pairing!