Crowd Pleasing Thanksgiving Wines

Certified sommelier Samantha Lichtner from Arizona recommends Thanksgiving wines!

Choosing Thanksgiving Wines can be Intimidating

Thanksgiving menu set, your family is invited and you’re hosting This means you have to also have the right mix of Thanksgiving wines for a diverse set of drinkers coming over. Not an easy task! Thankfully we have Certified Sommelier Samantha Lichtner here to help. [Original interview can be found below.]

Thanksgiving wines with Samantha
Samantha Lichtner

Thanksgiving Wine 1: Grab a glass of Cava

You want to start the night with a palate cleanser. So when your family and friends step through the door, you want something to kind of start the evening right before you stuff your face with Turkey. A beautiful sparkling Cava (sparkling wine from Spain) is going to be a really perfect sparkling wine palate cleanser. It’ll get you and your guests ready for the food and also it’s a sexy, classy drink for guests to hold as they Instagram the dinner.

Thanksgiving Wine 2: White Wines

Before jumping into the red wines, go for a Chardonnay. Give MERF Chardonnay from Washington a shot. Casual, American craftsman style wines. I love Chardonnay at all my holiday gatherings. It’s really going to compliment your Turkey. If you do an oaky Chardonnay, it’s going to compliment those buttery mashed potatoes, it’s a really pleasant pairing. Don’s sleep on Riesling! I feel like Riesling goes under the radar a lot of the time during Thanksgiving, but it’s so crowd pleasing. If you do an off-dry Riesling it’s going to really compliment spicy foods on the table. And it also surprisingly is a good compliment to pumpkin pie!

Pumpkin pie and wine
PC: Natalia Y

People often think of Riesling as ‘sweet’. However, Riesling has different levels of sweetness. For example, Eroica out of Washington have a medium off dry that it’s the perfect option.

Thanksgiving Wine 3: Red Wine

Time for a red! A popular crowd pleasing wine around the holidays is Pinot Noir. It’s silky tannins really cut through the meatiness and the richness of the Turkey. Pinot Noir isn’t overbearing, so your guests could start with a classic Pinot as they migrate to the table, and enjoy it throughout the meal. Try Erath Pinot Noir from Oregon.

Drive through napa valley
“This book is an answer to dry guidebooks and stiff informational publications that pervade the wine industry.” – L.A. Times

I highly recommend having a variety of wines at the party. Don’t stick to just one because you have different pallets at the table and Thanksgiving has a diverse array of foods. Your guests will appreciate a variety of wines to compliment the cornucopia of dishes. A simple way to think about wines for Thanksgiving is to have a red like Pinot Noir with with Turkey and whites wines with the side dishes and desserts.

How much to spend on Thanksgiving wines

So price point – I’m all about the affordability of my wines. The ones above are all under $40 and can be found at your local wine shop like Total Wine.

ABOUT SAMANTHA: After completing an Intensified Sommelier Training Program at the International Culinary Center of California, Samantha passed her Level II certified exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers. You can follow her food and wine journeys at or follow her on Instagram

Samantha Sommelier