Good news for red wine lovers!

By Carl Hanson
Updated September 18, 2020
Red wine in glass and carafe
Credit: Meredith

The traditional Thanksgiving dinner features so many clashing and contrasting flavors -- sweet and sour cranberry sauce, rich and salty gravy, earthy herb-seasoned stuffing. The easy answer for wine pairing is to serve only unassuming whites that are touched with a little sweetness, like Riesling or Gewürtztraminer. Which is fine advice, unless what you really want is to drink red.

But don't worry, redheads. The good news for people like us who always gravitate toward red wines is ... you can cheat!

These simple tricks make Thanksgiving dinner truly red-wine friendly:

1. Slip sage leaves under the turkey skin before roasting.

Herbs in general are red-wine friendly. And sage is particularly sweet on reds.

2. Sneak a splash of port into the gravy.

Let the alcohol cook off, and you'll be left with a gravy infused with red wine flavor compounds. Spoon it over turkey, potatoes, and stuffing, and your meal is instantly asking for red wine. You can always skip the port and just add a splash of the red wine you'll be enjoying for dinner.

3. Add some sausage to the stuffing.

A little sausage will add a rich, meaty, savory something to the stuffing, as in this Sausage Stuffing. Combine it with the port-primed gravy, and dinner's more than ready for red.

Cranberry, Sausage and Apple Stuffing
Photo by alexandra5

4. Choose the flavorful dark meat.

Pick the dark meat and you can go to town with your favorite reds!

5. Fire up the grill.

If you're truly serious bordering on compulsive about making your turkey red-wine friendly, it's time to get grilling. With smoky, grilled flavors, you can choose bigger wines to pair -- a Syrah, Zinfandel. And if you're willing to meet half way, you can't lose with a sparkling rosé. For the uninitiated, here's how to grill a turkey.

6. Accidentally stick a duck in the oven.

Or better yet, to avoid family squabbles, roast a duck in addition to the turkey. Because with fatty, flavorful roast duck (or roast goose), you can go with rich reds, like Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel, Rhone blends, Merlot, and weightier California Pinot Noir.

Roast Goose
Your goose is cooked | Photo by Meredith

Check out our complete collection of Thanksgiving Recipes.