Even though it's a bit more flavorful than its cousin chicken, turkey is still a relatively blank canvas when it comes to food matching. Keep your eyes on sauces and sides -- they're the elements that determine whether a pairing will work. Many people make the mistake of assuming red is the way to go. The truth is: Whites are just as likely to work. Stay away from big reds and heavily oaked wines of any color -- they don't do any favors for the sweet accents frequently found at the Thanksgiving table.
Boroli Quattro Fratelli Barbera D'Alba 2006
Barbera is Italy's most food-friendly red wine type: It's a classic, light-on-its-feet red, able to dance around complicated food-matching problems. Boroli is a small, high-quality producer that houses a hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant called Locanda del Pilone. So the owners clearly know their wine and food. This bottle hails from the grape's true home, the Piedmont region in the northern section of the country. The cherry and raspberry flavors are crisp, not flabby, and there's a lovely lingering finish.
Lemon-Herb Turkey with Lemon-Garlic Gravy
Garlic can wreak havoc with wine, but the ultraversatile Barbera doesn't try to compete; the naturally high acidity complements garlic's pungency.
Turkey Piccata with Tarragon Cream
While you might assume that white wine goes best with cream sauces, this light red highlights the sweet tarragon flavor.
Epiphany Grenache Blanc 2007
Fess Parker is as recognized for his screen-acting career (playing Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone) as he is for his wines. This bright white, hailing from Santa Barbara, is made from a grape that's related to Grenache, which is the most widely planted red grape in the world. Watermelon and citrus flavors come first, and then just a teasing touch of sweetness on the finish.
Roast Turkey with Apple Cider Pan Gravy
RThe wine will play off the light sweetness of the cider and enhance the tang of the herbs.
Turkey and sweet-potato croquettes with cranberry apple salsa
The citrus notes and sweetness of Epiphany can handle both the sugar and spice.
Hugel Pinot Gris Tradition 2005
This is a fairly sweet white that shows how good Alsatian wines can be -- it's rich, oily, and fatty in the best senses of those words. The apricot intensity and long finish can improve in your cellar for a few years. An anchor of Alsace since 1639, Hugel is also one of the most widely distributed of the region's producers; look for its Riesling, too.
Simple Roast Turkey with Rich Turkey Gravy
The sweet and oily nature of this wine cuts through the richness of the roasted turkey skin and gravy.
Turkey Cutlets with Prosciutto and Caper Sauce
You've got salty and tart tastes in this recipe, so go for the contrast of a sophisticated sweet wine.
Joseph Drouhin Chorey-les-Beaunes 2006
Want fragrant? Enjoy the cherry, nut, and cinnamon aromas in this medium-bodied wine -- made in Burgundy from Pinot Noir by one of the most reliable négociants (the French term for wine shipper and blender). The flavors of red fruit compote are strong, but the wine itself is dry, with a great, silky mouthfeel and soft tannins.
Citrus-Glazed Turkey with Chipotle Gravy
The Chorey won't battle the heat in this dish -- like a California Cab might. And the wine will highlight the honey and orange flavors.
Turkey Meatloaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Tart sun-dried tomatoes require a light and fruity contrast like the Chorey.
Domaine Chandon Pinot Meunier 2006
This red grape, best known for being blended into Champagne (Chandon is a top maker of California sparkling wine), matches easily with many foods. Produced in Carneros, the area that straddles the southern part of Napa and Sonoma, it has a healthy, food-friendly acidity and a lovely strawberry flavor.
Grilled Turkey with Cranberry Gravy
The Pinot Meunier cries out to be matched with any preparation of cranberry, but it also goes great with the smoky taste of this grilled dish.
Turkey Chowder with Wild Rice, Crimini and Pancetta
The clean and bright flavors -- balanced acids and fruit -- offset the richness of this dish (especially if you add leftover stuffing to the soup, as suggested).
Ted Loos, the former features editor of Wine Spectator, has written about wine for Bon Appétit, and is the author of Town & Country Wine Companion: A Tasting Guide and Journal (Hearst Books, $12.95).
MORE FROM EPICURIOUS.COM:
Recipes & Menus
Epicurious.com's portfolio of dishes for all seasons, cuisines and occasions
The Epicurious Editors' Blog
Food News and Views From All Over
Delicious menu guides for the busy work week
Epicurious Technique Videos
See better approaches to preparing your meals
Assorted galleries featuring pictures and recipes from Epicurious.com