Wine & Food: What Organic Wine Goes with Turkey?
When we talk about turkey at Christmas, we are talking about a roast turkey. We all know that a roast means ingredients way beyond the centrepiece. This is a meal that includes stuffings – both meat and vegetarian based – roast tatties, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce, rich gravy, and a host of veggies too. It is a spectacular feast, rich in flavour, variety, and texture. It’s an effort to pull it together and deserves a bit of consideration when it comes to deciding which wines to serve alongside.
For the Vintage Roots guide to organic wines with turkey, read on.
General Tips for Pairing Wine with Turkey
Turkey is a lean meat, but with plenty of flavour, particularly in the legs. (Note: that low-fat content is the reason turkey can become dry if over-cooked).
The top tip for finding the best wine to have with turkey is to avoid excessive tannin. With a low-fat meat like turkey, high-tannin wines can appear harsher and more evident.
Of course, you can’t forget that turkey, served with gravy and mashed potatoes or stuffing, can be a fairly salty dish. Therefore, wines with some fruitiness, acidity and low tannin work the best.
What Wine Goes with Turkey?
A good place to start when you’re hunting down the ultimate roast turkey wine pairing is to identify some of the best grape varieties.
We know we are looking for a wine where the tannins aren’t too marked. It’s also a good plan to have a wine that has a good crunch of acidity. Acidity may not always sound inviting but it is a core part of wine, and acidity is your best friend when you have a meal that’s full to bursting with diverse flavours and textures.
With this in mind, our top three (and not exclusive!) list of red grapes to consider pairing with your turkey this Christmas are: Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, and Sangiovese.
When it comes to white grapes for turkey, it’s hard to choose! Again, not definitive, but we are thinking Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Semillon and Verdicchio. Of course, Chardonnay wines are fantastic with Christmas lunch but it’s always fun to spread the net a little wide, don’t you think?
Best Red Wines with Turkey
The low-tannin wines are ideal for bringing out the light flavours of the meat, but without overpowering it with sweetness. Lush, fruity reds are our recommendation for the best pairings of red wine with turkey.
A trio of organic Pinot Noir wines to consider:
Sleek, stylish, full of ripe berry fruit and with a refreshing underscore of acidity, Walnut Block Nutcracker Pinot Noir from New Zealand is a fantastic choice.
A crowd-pleasing super-fruity option is the Chilean Adobe Pinot Noir Reserva from Emiliana. That it’s biodynamic too is a delicious bonus.
For some, Christmas turkey is a meal for which only the best French Pinot Noir will do. That being the case, look no further than the elegant, beautifully balanced Cuvée Secrete Pinot Noir from Domaines Paul Mas.
Sangiovese is such a great grape for food matching. It rarely disappoints. We love Barone Pizzini’s Rosso dei Poderi, which has the structure and breadth to be a winner for this year’s Christmas lunch.
A Chianti and two Tempranillos
It is possible to drink delicious wine, at the same time as doing a spot of celebrity name dropping! When We Dance is Trudie Styler and Sting’s highly recommended Chianti. Another Vintage Roots favourite.
Spain’s Tempranillo comes in a range of styles from the lighter, brighter sort of red, to wines with considerable depth and complexity. Viña Ijalba’s Rioja Tempranillo sits somewhere in the middle – a wonderfully juicy, supple red that is a delicious stalwart in the Vintage Roots range.
Altogether much richer and fuller-bodied is Dominio’s Basconcillos Ribera del Duero Roble. Oak-ageing adds real power and structure to the Tempranillo fruit. A wine that’s very well-placed to match up to all those Christmas lunch trimmings.
Best White Wines with Roast Turkey
Where to start?! There are so many white wines that we would recommend here. Two key things to bear in mind are weight and structure. Remember all those flavours you’re bringing to the table? Your white must be able to hold its own!
Here’s the Vintage Roots Top 5 White Wines to Pair with Turkey
Adobe Viognier Reserva has lovely richness and mid-palate weight. It’s peachy, apricot and stone-fruit flavours work brilliantly well, not just with the bird but also with roast root veggies and lots of stuffing recipes.
Rien de Rien No Added Sulphur from Château Grinou is a luscious blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon and has the textural complexity and power to make itself nicely heard above all the food noise.
We’ve recommended some red Tempranillo’s but you might not be expecting a Tempranillo Blanco. Yup, that is white Tempranillo. Again, this is from Viña Ijalba, who have chosen to age the wine in American oak barrels, giving it a lavish mouthfeel and good weight. Both delicious and interesting.
Chablis is a classic choice for a reason. The best Chablis wines are a thrill to drink and add more than a splash of sophistication to anybody’s turkey. We’ve been working with Domaine Philippe Goulley for a very long time and have no hesitation in suggesting his Chablis Premier Cru Montmains to you.
Chenin Blanc is one of those grapes that calls out for food. South Africa have carved themselves out a reputation for making outstanding wines from the grape, and we are big fans of River End Chenin Blanc from Stellar. An elegant white with a creamy feel.
Turkey Leftovers … Adding a bit of wine bling!
Jamie Oliver has a great blog, entitled “7 ways with leftover turkey”. For fun, here is a wine recommendation for each of the seven recipes.
Oozy and comforting turkey risotto will match nicely with the charming Montmija Chardonnay. For a soothing, post-party night in.
The ultimate toad in the hole. Serve with the ripe, juicy Bodegas Piqueras Garnacha Tintorera for the ultimate gastro / vinous hug!
Warm turkey salad. This is the sort of supper that calls for a healthy wine choice. Consider then the no-added-sulphur, easy-drinking Bohem Airen No Added Sulphur.
Old school turkey stew is a wholesome, warming dish that will shine with a glass of Château Rochecolombe Côtes du Rhone, which just oozes deliciousness.
Leftover turkey banh mi is really a Vietnamese sandwich! Rather than wine, why don’t you stock up on a few bottles the flavoursome, non-alcoholic Riedenburger Dolden lager?
Sloppy Joes – Christmas style. For this we were looking for a red wine that was effortlessly tasty and could think of no better a wine than Domaine Bousquet’s Malbec. A great pairing.
Family-friendly festive turkey pie. Our top-choice for this recipe we wanted a slightly cheeky red wine, with plenty of flavour but not too heavy. Step forward, the succulent, smooth cherry-led St Laurent from Theodorus. Delicious.
Turkey is a Christmas staple for many households, and having the right wine to match it lets this dish truly shine!
For Vegetarian/Vegan Christmas food and wine ideas:
Check out our Alternatives for Vegan Christmas Dinner blog post here.