Typically, when you think of Turkey, you probably think of Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner. We’ll have separate pairings on that, as when you consider wine and beer pairings, you have to consider the whole meal. In this article, we’ll focus on the turkey aspect of holiday dinners, as well as other turkey faves, such as Ground Turkey, Turkey Sandwiches, and Turkey Sausages. (Turkey Jerky did not make the cut).
Full-bodied white wines like Chardonnay, Riesling or Gewürztraminer pair up best with Turkey as they match the weight of Turkey while imparting refreshing tropical flavours. If you are a red wine drinker, low in tannin reds like Beaujolais, Rioja or Pinot Noir will never overwhelm the delicate flavours of Turkey, and will uplift the meat’s deliciousness with their electrifying acidity.
Chardonnay and Turkey
Our number one white choice with Turkey Dinner is a full-bodied Chardonnay. Something from California or Australia that is a little bit oaky will do a splendid job. A Chardonnay comes off creamy in the mouth, which does an excellent job with meat that is dry. Since Turkey tastes rather plain, the oaky richness breathes a little life into the meat, adding a bit of flair and character.
Gewürztraminer and Turkey Sandwiches
Other white wines you may want to consider are the aromatic Gewürztraminer, or the slightly sweet Riesling. These two wines are quite refreshing if the turkey is slightly dry (or salty), and add complementary flavours to the rather plain meat. A full-bodied Chardonnay may be too rich for you if you’re having a lunchtime Turkey sandwich, making Gewürztraminer or Riesling both excellent choices.
Pinot Grigio & Turkey Dinner
If you are attending a Turkey dinner, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, Pinot Grigio is an acceptable wine to bring as it is a crowd pleaser. Pinot Grigio is a dry white wine with light fruity flavours. In all honesty, the flavours of the wine will get overwhelmed by most side dishes, but most people who drink Pinot Grigio don’t drink it for its subtle and nuanced peach and melon notes. They most likely drink it as it is refreshing, and Pinot Grigio, with its crisp acidity, will offer plenty of refreshment against buttery mashed potatoes smothered with gravy or cauliflower loaded with a cheese sauce. Pinot Grigio will get along with Turkey, especially if the the meat is dry. One sip of the wine will provide plenty of assistance in making the bird taste juicier.
Red Wine and Turkey
Considering that Turkey is a red wine, you’d think there’d be few to little options. However, there are three magnificent reds that pair well with turkey.
Pinot Noir and Turkey Pairing
Our number one choice is a Pinot Noir, or a Red Burgundy. This oftentimes earthy or woodsy mingles well with the savoury turkey flavour, whilst the strawberry or cherry flavours create a brilliant marriage of meat and wine.
Another wine that is lovely with the dark meat of roasted Turkey is Cariñena. Cariñena is a Spanish red wine made from the grapes of Carignan. It’s profile is a rich, fruit-driven red that when paired with Turkey, adds cranberry sauce like notes to the pairing. Cariñena also has earthy notes that make it go well with the earthy flavours of the roasted dark meat of the Turkey.
Beaujolais and Turkey Sandwiches Pairing
Next up Beaujolais is amazing with a Turkey Sandwich. Low in alcohol, but bursting with freshness, Beaujolais and turkey sandwiches make a great picnic lunch combo.
Rioja and Turkey Sausage Pairing
Our final pairing is Rioja. This Spanish red wine is wonderful with Grilled Turkey sausages. Personally, I’d select a Crianza Rioja, which hasn’t been aged in oak very long, meaning it has more of a refreshing tartness making it perfect with grilled sausage, that is perhaps tossed in a pasta dish.
Chianti is another great pairing, and is quite brilliant with turkey meatballs and spaghetti. Chianti is made with the Sangiovese grape which produces highly acidic wines with a high element of tannin. High acidity is something you want when acidic tomatoes are involved, or else the whole dish will come off as flat and taste metallic. The high acidity, low in tannin profile, also makes it a winning pair with low fat Turkey meatballs.
Beer and Turkey
Amber Lager and Turkey Dinner
An Amber Lager has bright hop notes and light caramel flavours, ending with a clean finish. It’s these caramel flavours that love the roasted notes of the turkey, along with earthy vegetables like Brussel sprouts, potatoes or roasted carrots. Meanwhile, the snappy hops cut through gravy, butter, and any creamy sauces leaving you refreshed.
Saison and Turkey
Saison is a crisp yet spicy beers with a touch of effervescence. With hints of citrus and ginger, you have this balance of bitter and sweet that adds a bit of complexity to the pain taste of turkey without overpowering it or tasting limp. A farmhouse Ale will work just as well for the same reasons.
Dunkel and Roasted Turkey
A Dunkel is a Dark Lager that has a deep malt flavour that loves the roasted flavours of turkey. These beers have caramel, toffee, chocolate and coffee notes that will love the crispy skin of the roasted turkey, the gravy, and even the stuffing.
Nut Brown Ale and Turkey Sandwich
For a leftover turkey sandwich smothered in gravy, we’d a nut brown ale that will cut through the gravy just enough to add a bit of nuttiness on the finish.
Liquor and Turkey Pairings
Given that turkey is a simple dish, we’ll keep our pairings simple as well. Gin and Tonic is a fantastic choice as the gin’s botanicals add dimension to the plainness of Turkey. Another excellent choice is scotch, as it has a smokiness that transfers well to a bite of turkey, again, adding a bit of depth.