Are you planning a big Thanksgiving dinner? Or will you just be having a quiet meal at home with your immediate family? Do you want to be sure you serve a show-stopping menu no matter how many guests will be at your dinner table?
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, those who do the cooking often find themselves concerned with serving the best flavor combinations throughout the meal. If this is true of you, then you may also be worried about finding the perfect drinks to pair with your favorite Thanksgiving dishes.
In this article, we’ll provide a handful of alcoholic drink pairings you many want to consider when it comes time to put together your Thanksgiving menu. Some of these are simpler and more classic than others, but they all have one thing in common: they’re excellent combinations that taste great and look impressive at your dinner table, too.
Read on to find the right drink to serve with just about any traditional Thanksgiving food!
• Salad: White or red wine
o When it comes to pairing booze with salad, you can’t go wrong with the classics. Stick to white wine for most salads, especially those that have lighter dressings. If you’ll be serving a salad with a heavy dressing (like bleu cheese) or one that has a lot of meat as one of its toppings, you might prefer to go with a lighter red wine instead. And of course, if you serve a steak salad, bolder red wines can provide a great balance of flavor that pulls all the important tastes to the forefront.
• Sweet potatoes: Ale or bourbon
o A nice red or brown ale can bring out the sweetness of sweet potatoes and complement those marshmallows that are probably oozing on top, too. Bourbon, on the other hand, complements the flavors of brown sugar and cinnamon that are often present in Thanksgiving-style sweet potatoes. Both of these darker drinks are a good choice if you’ll be serving a meal that features sweet potatoes as one of the main courses or starring side dishes.
• Mashed potatoes: Whiskey or Scotch
o If, on the other hand, you’ll be serving mashed potatoes instead of sweet potatoes, you should stick to something like whiskey or Scotch instead. These flavors are similar to that of bourbon, but with a few differences that lend them better to pairing with a non-sweet potato dish. Try them with scalloped or baked potatoes as well; the starchy potato and the rich, dark liquor work well together and create a stunning balance that may surprise you and your guests as well. You might also want to try some whiskey cocktails, if you’re feeling a little bolder.
• Green bean casserole: Pale ale or moonshine
o Is your green bean casserole a little on the lighter side? Not too overly flavored or fatty? Topped with chopped or slivered almonds? If so, stick to pale ale for a pairing that works with this dish. If, on the other hand, you’ve poured a lot of cream of mushroom soup into the casserole or it’s got cheese or bread crumbs in it, try pairing it with moonshine instead. Moonshine is a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner pairing, but it mixes well into cocktails and can be sipped on its own as well. Stay away from flavored moonshines for this pairing, however, to allow the green beans to really shine.
• Roast turkey: Chardonnay or pinot noir
o Chardonnay is a tried-and-true roast turkey wine pairing. The acidic flavor and refreshing, bright, crisp aroma balance the heavier savory taste of the turkey perfectly. And if you’ve seasoned your turkey with rosemary, the chardonnay should pair nicely with this spice as well. However, if you’re serving a very heavy or hearty dressing or stuffing along with your turkey, you may want to go with pinot noir instead. Best of all, pinot noir goes well with richer mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, too, so it’s a good all-around choice for the Thanksgiving table if you don’t want to buy a lot of different alcohols.
• Pumpkin pie: Riesling
o Riesling is a solid choice for pairing with most desserts, and pumpkin pie is no exception. Look for a “harvest” Riesling if you want something a little more autumnal in terms of flavor, but don’t be afraid to go with a standard one instead if you can’t find any variants. The sweetness of Riesling is enough to notice, but not so much that the taste of the pumpkin pie will be overwhelmed. And Riesling is great for sipping and taking your time enjoying, which is an important quality of any dessert wine.
• After dinner: Craft beer
o Ready to kick back and relax after the meal? Turn on the Big Game and grab a bottle or can of your favorite craft beer. Any craft beer will do, but why not try something you’ve never tried before? Celebrate with a darker ale or stout, or look for something unique with some flavors of the season. Try to buy locally when you can and support your state’s microbreweries at the same time. You never know—you just might find a beer you’ll want to go back and purchase again and again!
Are you ready for Thanksgiving now? Although choosing your drinks may not be one of the more difficult steps in the Thanksgiving meal prep process, it’s nevertheless an important one if you’ll be serving adults who enjoy alcoholic beverages. No matter how your holiday may go, remember to always drink responsibly and make sure to only serve adults. Safety is important, and staying safe while enjoying alcoholic beverages is a crucial part of making positive holiday memories that will last!