Rosé Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving Dinner
Between grocery shopping, recipe preparation and accounting for picky eaters or food allergies, planning Thanksgiving dinner is no easy feat. Then there’s the all-important task of selecting the best Thanksgiving wines. But which wines pair best with turkey, Grandma’s green bean casserole recipe, roasted brussels sprouts, sausage stuffing, and sweet potatoes? And how do you choose wines everyone is sure to love? We’re about to blow your mind 🤯 with a hack to make your life easier—rosé wine pairings for Thanksgiving Dinner!
Why is Rosé the Perfect Thanksgiving Wine?
When you consider Thanksgiving dinner and all its classic recipes, you really need a wine that goes with everything. Those creamy, rich mashed potatoes with savory gravy. The green, vegetal flavors of crispy brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, and autumnal salads. That irresistible sweetness of sweet potatoes and the fruity, acidic flavors of cranberry sauce. Let’s not forget the main event, a perfectly roasted turkey with tender meat and aromatic stuffing waiting below crispy skin. There’s a lot of contrasting sweet and savory flavors to consider when selecting Thanksgiving wines.
Yet rosé is up for the challenge. A dry rosé truly goes with just about anything. These wines have bright, lip-smacking acidity to match more acid-driven dishes. Rosé refreshes the palate against rich, creamy dishes or those with bolder flavors. These wines also deliver juicy red fruit flavors, which are a delicious juxtaposition to the savory herbs and spices of Thanksgiving recipes. Moreover, certain rosé wines feature herb and spice notes of their own to go with the sage, rosemary, bay leaf, cinnamon, and cloves common in holiday recipes.
Rosé wine pairings extend beyond the actual holiday, too! These pink wines easily pair with your family’s go-to take out meal the night before the big day. From pizza to Thai takeout, Chinese food, sushi, Mexican food, and beyond, there’s a rosé wine to match. We all know the second greatest meal behind Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers we get to savor the next day. A leftover turkey sandwich slathered in cranberry sauce begs for a glass of fresh and fruity rosé.
Different Rosé Production Methods
No two rosés are the same. They come in varying styles ranging in boldness and flavor. This is due in large part to the numerous rosé production methods available. Along with the characteristics of different grape varieties used to make the wine.
The winemaker or regulations of the wine region determine the grape selection for rosé wine production. Then, there are four main methods used to make rosé.
Limited skin maceration is the most common method for making high quality rosé. Once the grapes are crushed, the juice remains in contact with the skins for a select period of time for color extraction. The longer the maceration, the more darkly colored and boldly flavored the rosé will be.
Direct pressing keeps the juice in contact with the skins for a shorter amount of time than the limited skin maceration technique. Rather than soaking together, the grapes are pressed immediately to remove the juice from the skins. This shorter amount of skin contact results in a lighter colored rosé.
The saignée method, also known as the ‘bleeding’ method, involves removing juice from a red wine tank while the wine is early in the maceration process. This technique was initially implemented to further concentrate red wine in the tank. The wine that’s bled off is then vinified as a rosé on its own.
Finally, there’s the blending process, which involves blending a red wine and a white wine to produce a rosé. It’s prohibited in most designated European wine regions except for one—Champagne.
French Rosés for Thanksgiving Dinner
French wine offers an abundance of options to choose from for rosé wine pairings. These are the best French wine regions to look to for Thanksgiving rosé.
Provençal rosé is perhaps the most famous and widely adored rosé the world over. These rosés are known for their fresh acidity, drinkability, fruity strawberry and watermelon flavors. They also have subtle notes of minerals, herbs, and florals. The main grapes used in Provence for rosé winemaking include Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvédre, and Syrah. Though Counoise and Tibouren might be incorporated depending on the appellation.
Rosé Champagne has more color and body than other styles of Champagne thanks to the addition of still red wines made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Madame Clicquot was the first known producer to create rosé Champagne via blending in 1818. Today, winemakers generally blend around 15% still red wine into the final production for rosé sparkling wine. Otherwise, rosé Champagne is produced via the saignée method. Rosé Champagne has all the refreshing acidity and autolytic complexity as other styles with vibrant red fruit flavors.
Tavel is an appellation in the Southern Rhône Valley situated on the western bank of the Rhône River. The AOC produces solely rosé that’s drier, richer, and savorier than most other rosés on the market. Grenache and Cinsault are the dominant grapes in Tavel wines. Grenache contributes red fruit flavors, balance, and power. Whereas Cinsault delivers aromatic elegance. Additionally, Syrah, Mourvédre, Carignan, Picpoul, Clairette, Bourboulenc, and Calitor may also be used. Somewhat closer in character to a red wine than a rosé, Tavel offers rosé wine pairings for the heartier flavors of Thanksgiving dinner.
France’s Bandol AOC within Provence features arid, infertile, and well-draining limestone and sandy marl soils. After phylloxera wiped out vineyards here, savvy vignerons recognized they had the ideal terrain for Mourvédre to thrive. Subsequently, this late-ripening, sunshine-loving grape became the trademark of Bandol. Mourvédre lends itself to round, full-bodied rosés with violet and rose floral notes, as well as aromas of red cherry, plum, and dried herbs.
Diverse Italian Rosato for Turkey Day
As can be expected from a country with around 2,000 indigenous grape varieties, Italy has an abundance of rosati for delectable Thanksgiving rosé wine pairings.
Etna Rosato DOC
From the sun-soaked island of Sicily grown amongst the volcanic foothills of Mamma Etna, Etna Rosato DOC is crafted from the same grapes as Etna Rosso DOC. This rosé must be made from a minimum of 80% Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio accounts for the rest of the blend. Etna Rosato is dry with zippy acidity and an enticing salinity or crushed gravel character from those volcanic soils. Thanks to Nerello Mascalese, these wines offer tart red fruit notes like pomegranate and red cherry. Etna Rosato also showcases dried thyme and allspice aromas which are complementary to many Thanksgiving recipes.
Bardolino Chiaretto DOC
Near the shores of Lake Garda in the Veneto, the Bardolino Chiaretto DOC dishes up fresh, light, and dry rosato made predominantly with Corvina. The same variety behind Veneto’s popular Valpolicella wines, Corvina is a thin-skinned grape with low to medium tannins and high acidity. These wines lean towards fruity red cherry flavors. The name chiaretto means little light one in Italian, referring to the refreshing easy-drinking style of this Italian rosé.
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC is a rosato made from the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grape. It’s known for an eye-catching intense salmon color due to the grape variety’s thick skins. The Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC requires a minimum of 85% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo grapes with the other 15% attributed to local black varieties. Expect a fruit forward bouquet with strawberry, raspberry, and red cherry aromas with a hint of bramble and orange peel.
Mix Up Your Rosé Wine Pairings with Spanish Rosado
Spain produces a wide array of rosé styles from fruity, easy-drinking, and fresh to more serious oak-aged examples. Historically, deeply colored Spanish rosés made via the maceration method with a mixture of red and white grapes were known as ‘claretes’. However, today only the ‘rosado’ term is legally recognized in Spanish wine law. Try these Spanish rosados for intriguing rosé wine pairings to elevate your favorite Thanksgiving recipes.
The Cigales DO is a delimited growing area of less than 3,000 hectares in the Duero Valley. Tempranillo reigns supreme in Cigales. Also known as Tinto Fino, it’s often blended with Garnacha and other local red or white varieties to produce intensely colored and fruity rosados with a creamy finish.
Oak-aged Rioja Rosado
For those looking for a bit more depth to their Thanksgiving rosé wine pairings, savor a bottle of oak-aged Rioja rosado. A blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Viura, these rosados typically spend around 4 years maturing in oak. They have a unique profile with a nutty character and notes of spice, rose petals, and red fruits.
Rosados de Navarra
Navarra is the only Spanish DO to define a specific production method for its rosados. This rosé must be produced using the saignée method known as sangrado in Spanish. Garnacha is the principal grape in rosados de Navarra resulting in medium pink colored wines with strawberry, wild berry, and floral aromas.
Rosé for Dessert
Rosé Port is the ideal way to round out Thanksgiving dinner with a rosé wine pairing for dessert. It’s made in the same style as Ruby Port with a more limited maceration on the skins. This style of Port requires a skillful winemaker. Extracting fresh fruit flavors and bright red colors from the tannic DouroDuoro grape varieties without extracting too much tannin is key. Rosé Port is made with the traditional Port grapes including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, and Tinta Barroca. The final wine has around 20% abv with a full-flavored palate highlighting notes of strawberries, red cherries, and raspberries. Though Rosé Port might not be the best match for pumpkin pie, it most definitely will sing alongside fruit pies and chocolate desserts.