Turkey is a typical celebration meat: is Thanksgiving food for Americans, is a tradition for Christmas in France, England, Ireland, Slovenia and even in the Philippines and it is often prepared for big family lunches in a lot of other countries.
But it is also a very healthy meat, easily digestible, with a firm flesh and a mild taste and it’s extremely versatile, that can be served in different delicious preparations from spicy dishes to tasty left-over’s recipes. Such a good adaptability to diverse cuisines and cooking styles necessarily requires a discussion on wine matching (even if we are just over Thanksgiving and Christmas), bringing us to the question of what is the best wine with turkey. Here I’d like to give you some suggestions, those that can offer the best texture and flavors to marry different preparations in different occasions.
A Bit of Info About Turkey
Let’s first look at turkey from a nutritional point of view.
Its meat contains a large amount of high biological value proteins and amino acids: the former are very useful to the body for many reasons, including the renewal of the tissues and the formation of hormones, enzymes and antibodies, and the latter have a beneficial effect on the metabolism of muscles and in promoting the disposal of toxins.
Despite the appearance of white meat might suggest a food low in iron, that’s a wrong assumption, in fact, 100 grams of turkey correspond to 2.5 grams of iron, a value that is not much lower than other red meat.
Last but not least, the majority of its fats are “unsaturated” and their amount is minimal: turkey has only 1.5% of lipids (without skin) resulting in a low calorie intake which makes it ideal for those following a diet.
Other than its interesting nutritional facts, this meat has a long historic tradition especially in US, and precisely since 1621, when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by a banquet of 50 Pilgrims, arrived from Europe, with a tribe of 90 Wampanoag Indians in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The abundance of the harvest was shared (as a symbol of cooperation) and in the menu there were turkeys as apparently they intensely inhabited that area. But in England as well, this meat’s fame is rooted in ancient traditions as turkey has been introduced in Christmas dinner since the 16th century by King Henry VIII.
So, What Is the Best Wine With Turkey?
Coming back to the present day, and to turkey, there is a wide choice of wines that can appropriately match this meat, depending on the preparation and the sauce or gravy.
Here are my suggestions.
Let’s discuss them in detail…
1. Gosset Brut Excellence, France
About the wine: Champagne works very well with turkey both in terms of elegance and smoothness and it is, of course, also the best choice for celebrating. The Gosset Brut Excellence is a spectacular food wine and it’s just ideal with turkey thanks to a perfectly harmonious balance of 45% Pinot Noir, 13% Pinot Meunier and 42% Chardonnay that give it power, finesse and a lively acidity. Especially brilliant with fried turkey as it can cut the fat and cleanse the palate!
About the producer: Gosset is one of the oldest and surely most prestigious Champagne houses of the region. Grapes are sourced only from Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards, and treated with extreme care to produce wines that have an outstanding reputation and inimitable style.
2. J C Boisset Nuits-Saint-Georges ‘Les Charbonnières’ 2011, France
About the wine: Pinot noir is the most sophisticated choice and surely the best red wine for turkey. This Nuits-Saint-Georges has gentle floral notes and very fine tannins that do not clash with the compact turkey flesh. Its balanced acidity and relatively light texture makes it shine with a roasted turkey especially if stuffed with mushroom. It beautifully finishes with a long and persistent savory note.
About the producer: Jean-Claude Boisset has undergone a radical transformation since 2002 when Grégory Patriat, one of the best viticulturalists/winemakers of Burgundy joined the company. Grégory had spent the previous three years working at Domaine Leroy and still spends the majority of his time in the vineyards, having access to some of the best parcels of Burgundy and paying his growers by the hectare to ensure low yields and exceptional quality.
3. Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc – Viognier 2013, California
About the wine: Lots of people prefer to drink white wine with white meat, and that’s certainly a good choice, and if your turkey has been roasted with a touch of maple syrup, in a New England style, its sweetness will need a counterpart. The Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier, is a blend of 79% Chenin Blanc and 21% Viognier and is exactly what you should be looking for, with its delightful aromas of fresh lemon, juicy melon and sweet mango, complemented by soft orange blossom. The palate is crisp and refreshing to balance a subtle sweetness.
About the producer: This 80 hectare estate was founded in 1978 and now owns vineyards across five sub-zones in Napa: four in the Stags Leap District, three in Rutherford, three in Carneros and one each in Howell Mountain and Oakville. Their wines are characterised by a meticulous craftsmanship and a strong sense of place.
4. Cypher Winery Anarchy Unconventional Rhone Blend 2011, California
About the wine: If your turkey is boldly seasoned or if you are serving it with a cranberry stuffing or sauce, then, this is the red to match. This `unconventional` wine, is characterized by and `unconventional` label that hides an `unconventional` blend mixing Zinfandel with the classic Mourvedre and Syrah of the Rhone blend. The result surprises with spicy notes and the aromatic complexity of red fruits, including cranberries and raspberries. Its velvety tannins and bright acidity deliciously will enhance your meat.
About the producer: Christian Tietje and Susan Mahler are behind this fun and punk small winery located in Central Valley, California. Other than the creative names and labels of their excellent wines, they also offer a great experience to all wine tourists or curious visiting their wine tasting and barrel room.
5. Las Rocas Garnacha Vinas Viejas 2012, Spain
About the wine: The grapes for the Garnacha are sourced from vines aged 35-45 years, while the ‘Viñas Viejas’ is a selection of fruit from old bush vines with an average age of 80 years, that give superb depth of colour and fruit concentration. A big nose of spices and cassis, a full body and the smooth and supple tannins that characterise this wine will pair brilliantly a grilled turkey.
About the producer: Las Rocas wines come from Bodegas San Alejandro, a co-operative in the Calatayud DO, south-east of Rioja, that owns 1,200 hectares of vineyards situated at the extremely high altitude of 750-1,200m above sea level. These geographic conditions ensure a long growing season and ripe yet balanced grapes. Garnacha is particularly well suited to the vineyards here.
6. Harlow Ridge Chardonnay 2013, California
About this wine: This is the perfect wine for your left-over preparations. That doesn’t mean is a lesser wine; on the contrary its layers of fruit and spicy flavors and its delicate texture are just a great match for a turkey club sandwich, a turkey enchiladas or turkey Caesar salad.
About the producer: The Harlow Ridge is one of the Bronco Wine Company brands, the fourth biggest producer in US founded by Ernest Gallo nephews Fred and Joe Franzia, together with their cousin John. The company owns large plots of vineyard mostly located in the Central Valley o California.
I’m Starting to Get Hungry…
Don’t know about you but all this chatting about turkey and wines, made me hungry and thirsty. And if you are you now craving a big roasted turkey and a nice glass of wine as I am, then don’t wait for next Thanksgiving, try one of my suggestions and let me know your thoughts! Cheers!