Hosting Thanksgiving is like throwing a typical dinner party on steroids. Fortunately, there’s a roadmap for survival: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, wine — the structure of the meal is iconic, and though there might be 10,000 turkey recipes on the internet (including 22 from Martha Stewart alone), stick to the basic script and you’ll be OK.
That said, if you really want to impress your guests without adding additional kitchen time, offer a wine pairing with each course, or if that feels too ambitious, just pull out a carefully selected bottle for appetizers or dessert. These Pennsylvania wines are sure to take your meal from traditional to unforgettable. And what could be more appropriate than something locally grown? It’s a tasty tribute to the original locavore banquet.
Hors d’oeuvres Course
Get everyone excited by laying out a massive spread of funky cheeses and sliced charcuterie to welcome your guests. Pennsylvania Concord, the perfect pick thanks to its sweetness and strong grapey pop, is a powerful foil to pungent flavors. For dry wine drinkers, pick up some PA Seyval Blanc. This white is beloved for its refreshing neutral and citrus flavors — an excellent complement to briny shellfish (cocktail shrimp, anyone?) or mild, creamy snacks like baked brie or crab dip.
You don’t want to blow out anyone’s taste buds so start with something light-bodied like PA Albariño. The white wine’s crispness is a wonderful palate refresher before you move on to more intense flavors. Meanwhile, PA Chancellor is a fun option for red-wine lovers — this unexpectedly light wine boasts notes of red cherries, blackberries, and cinnamon that will complement the fall flavors in a seasonal salad (topped with roasted squash and spiced nuts), veggie tarts, or Swedish meatballs.
For creamy soups, look to a PA Chardonnay. Dry, unoaked styles boast a fruity, floral, zesty zing that will cut through the richness. For broth-based soups, try a PA Noiret. The red wine’s bold black pepper aroma will punch up the pot’s savory flavors.
To go along with your traditional spread — turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, etc. — pop the cork on a PA Lemberger. The wine’s woodsy, dried herb flavors will help highlight the fresh herbs you’ve undoubtedly incorporated into your gravy and stuffing. Another red wine option is PA Merlot: the jammy fruit notes will play wonderfully with cranberry sauce. On the white wine side, try PA Traminette or PA Riesling. Traminette’s fresh floral notes are a fine companion to the flavorful dishes in this course. Whereas, Riesling’s sweetness and high acidity will become a palate cleanser between every sinful bite.
If you’re serving chocolate, pair your dessert with a PA Chambourcin — its vanilla aromas and supple mouthfeel will marry well with the richness. Looking for a PA wine to pair with classic Thanksgiving pies like apple, pumpkin, and pecan? Check out our guide to pie and PA wine pairings here (link to article).
Lastly, how many bottles do you need to keep your guests happy? Check out this handy video to calculate how much wine you need depending on the size of your party.