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Which Wine Pairs Best With Christmas Turkey?

When planning our big festive meal, we usually think of food combinations that go well together, which is why the Christmas turkey often makes an appearance together with roasted potatoes, pigs in blankets, gravy and stuffing. This combination just works and it’s what people often look forward to at the dinner table! 

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The same logic applies when it comes to finding drinks to pair with our turkey roast dinner. After putting so much effort into making a delicious meal so you would want a wine that would perfectly compliment the flavours. In this article we’ll talk you through the cardinal rules of wine pairings and what wines go best with a Christmas turkey. 

Basics of wine and turkey pairing

Turkey meat is white and lean but it still has plenty of flavour, particularly the meat around the legs which is a bit more fatty. The lower fat is also the reason why turkey can often become a bit dry if overcooked. 

When looking for a wine to pair well with your roasted turkey one of the basic rules is to avoid wines with high tannin contents. Tannins work great to balance out the flavour of high-fat meats but for a low-fat meat such as turkey, they can be a bit too harsh. 

Because turkey is often served with sides that contain bacon or cheese, a fine tannin wine such as a well-aged Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon can be a potential pair to drink with turkey, but too much tannin can easily ruin all those hours you spent cooking in the kitchen. 

A typical roast dinner is usually packed with different complex flavours – fatty bacon, herby stuffing, crispy parsnips and potatoes are just some of the side dishes that typically surround the Christmas turkey. A wine with a fruity flavour and medium to high acidity would be perfect to balance out this blend of flavours.

What wine goes well with turkey?

As we already mentioned for turkey you should be looking for a wine with lower tannin levels and crisp acidity. Acidity may not sound appetising but it’s a core part of wine and can be your best friend when you’re serving a meal that is bursting with various textures and flavours.

White wine to pair with turkey

White wine is always a great pair for a white meat such as turkey. There is a wide variety to choose from. Riesling, Chenin Blanc or Verdaccio are only some of the options. 

By far the most popular option, however, is a bottle of full-bodied Chardonnay, which can be a very alluring accompaniment for your Christmas roast dinner. A good bottle of Chardonnay will radiate rich oaky flavour with light notes of spice, while creamy lactic acidity helps with the dryness of turkey meat. The crisp acidity also helps bring balance to all the various flavours. 

White Burgundy will also pair nicely at almost every level. The high levels of acidity and minerality in this type of wine really helps cleanse your palate, allowing you to get a bit of freshness between the different flavours.  

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Red wine to pair with turkey

If you decide to for a red wine instead, low tannin wines are ideal as they can bring out the light flavour of the meat, without overpowering it their intense sweetness. Our recommendation for the best red wines to pair with turkey are the lush fruity reds such as Pinot Noir or an aged Bordeaux. 

Bolder Pinot Noir from the region of Burgundy should pair exceptionally well. If you have the money to splurge on a bottle of Grand Cru or Chambertin then you’ll be in for a great treat, but there are plenty of less expensive bottles of Pinot out there that would be just as delightful. Be aware though that some lighter styles of Pinot, may be easily overpowered by all the different flavours on your plate.

Bordeaux is generally associated with big tannins, high acidity and overpowering dark fruit flavour, which might lead you to think it’s not the perfect choice for turkey, but you’ll be wrong. The delicate balance of fruity flavours and acidity can go wonderful with your roast dinner, if those aromas have had a few year to develop in the bottle. 

A mature Rioja can also work wonders with turkey because it combines the earthy aromas of mushrooms with bright red fruits and medium tannins. However, you have to be weary of wines with strong oak influence as the flavour would be too deep for the light turkey meat.

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