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A Thanksgiving Pairing Guide

Discover what goes best with your favourite turkey-day dishes.

Preparing a Thanksgiving feast with all the fixings is no small feat! With that in mind, we’ve made pairing traditional dishes a snap with suggestions for tried-and-true sippers. No matter your budget or beverage of choice, we’ve got you covered with stellar suggestions from wine to beer to cider and even cocktails.

When it comes to pairing, you don’t have to be exact. Just run with the idea that dishes and drinks work well when they have something in common. Light first courses usually work well with crisp and refreshing choices, while it’s hard to go wrong when both dessert and drinks end the night on a sweet note. Throw caution to the wind— experimenting by mixing and matching foods and sippers can really make for a memorable occasion!


Starters/First Courses

Fall Salads

When tossing together a seasonal salad where grapes, figs, carrots or mushrooms are the star, reach for something effervescent like local sparkling wine or a bubbly cocktail.

 

Root Vegetable Soups

Sweater-weather soups like sweet potato, pumpkin or butternut squash sing when paired with fresh Kolsch, fragrant wheat beer, or tart and zippy cider. Buttery unoaked Chardonnay and fruit-forward Rieslings are flavour-packed partners as well.

Cheese Boards

When you’re serving a variety of cheeses, reach for food-friendly beverages such as Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer and sparkling wine, or a dry rosé — or combine the best of both worlds with a sparkling rosé. It’s also hard to go wrong when matching cheese with beer or cider, especially bitter and hoppy India Pale Ales, or zingy apple or pear ciders. When serving red, versatile, earthy and fruit-forward Pinot Noir is a great option.

Appetizers

When serving bready hors d’oeuvre mainstays — think cranberry-and-cheese puffs or fruit-and nut-topped Brie with toasts — serve up Sauvignon Blanc or a Belgian tripel. For spiced and robustly flavoured dips like a fall vegetable hummus, offer up medium-bodied rosé, Chardonnay, Belgian wheat or saison beer.


Mains

Poultry

When serving the classic bird, whether it’s turkey or chicken, no-fail picks include Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay and Rosé (including sparkling). Seasonal favourites like cider or farmhouse saison beers make excellent choices, thanks to their food-friendly nature, and are especially good choices if you’re being adventurous and deep-frying the turkey.

If you’re serving a large variety of fixings — a feast that ranges from tart cranberry sauce and buttery mashed potatoes to seasoned stuffing and pungent Brussels sprouts — something with a bit more intensity can help match to the overall menu, think Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot or Shiraz. If you want to try something new, serve a house Madeira- or vermouth-based cocktail.

Ham

This old-school favourite is open to lots of pairing options. When simply prepared, it works really well with a variety of ciders, as well as with wines like Beaujolais, Burgundy, Orange wine, Chablis, Sparkling and unoaked Chardonnay. When it’s richly glazed, you can get more creative, pairing it with Bourbon-based cocktails, brown ale or even a robustly flavoured bock or Duvel tripel.

Beef Roast

Skipping the big bird in favour of a beef roast? You’ve got choices! Match roast beef with Merlot, Riesling, Valpolicella, Shiraz, Baco Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Beer is an excellent choice, too, serve your roast up with any assortment of ales — English or India Pales, brown, strong or old ales, as well as extra-special bitter beers.

Hearty Meatless Mains

Vegetarians and omnivores can get creative with a focus on the main’s primary ingredient. Meaty and earthy mushrooms and eggplant find a kindred spirit in Pinot Noir, but they’re also sublime with a toasty and robust stout. Cauliflower-centric dishes match well with crisp Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc, or even a citrusy cocktail like a Tom Collins. For something a little different, marry meatless mains with the sour, fruity flavours in a Lambic beer — a pairing that you can always rely on.


Dessert

Pumpkin Pie

Silky and spiced, this must-have dessert is fantastic with beers like pale ales and vanilla porters, or double down on the pumpkin flavour by serving it alongside a pumpkin ale. For a great finale on the wine side of things, try sweet Moscato, Icewine or Port.

Pecan Pie

For something a little different, try complementing the flavours in this dessert with a rum or whisky (rye or Bourbon) cocktail, or sip on Madeira, Port or Sherry.

Apple Pie 

Apple pie fans will be delighted with a match that complements or plays up the apple base. Try a spiced beer, a sweet cider (hard or non-alcoholic), a late-harvest Riesling or a Calvados, which is made with apples.