What to DRINK With That – Turkey Dinner with all the Trimmings

DRINK editor Treve Ring asks local wine experts how they would approach pairing dishes and flavours. This edition: TURKEY DINNER WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS.  Plus the big bonus question – LEFTOVERS.

Our Experts:

Pamela Sanderson (PS)
Sommelier and Regional Manager for Cascadia Liquor

Pamela has extensive experience in hotels, restaurants, wineries and liquor retail. In addition to running the boutique Cascadia Liquor chain, she teaches for the International Sommelier Guild.

Tom Doughty (TD)
Owner, Sommelier of Refuel and Campagnolo and Campagnolo Roma

In addition to running three of Vancouver’s top restaurants, Tom produces wines with his ultra small lot Montagu Cellars, located in Naramata Bench.  He has been Vancouver Magazine’s Sommelier of the Year, is trained in French cuisine at Dubrulle Culinary Institute.    

Janice Goard (JG)
Food and Beverage Director, Hotel Grand Pacific

Janice completed the International Sommelier’s Guild Diploma while at HGP before opening the showcase wine cellar at Bear Mountain Resort. She has since returned to HGP, overseeing the daily F&B operations in downtown Victoria’s only 5 star hotel.


Christmas Turkey with all the Trimmings

Roasted Turkey with Sage Stuffing and Mushroom Gravy, Bourbon Sweet Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts, Mashed Turnip, Cranberry Sauce


PS – Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir naturally has good acidity that works well with all kinds of food plus the tannins are soft enough to work with white meat like turkey. This grape has an earthiness that compliments the earthy flavours of the mushrooms and root vegetables and a tart fruitiness that compliments the cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes. My specific choice?  A pinot noir from Vancouver Island, because I think this is a grape variety that works well with this menu and it is a grape variety that reflects our region.

JG – Gamay, especially a cru Beaujolais, with turkey is a beautiful thing.  Gamay is gentle with tannins, has clean acidity (to cut the heaviness) and tends to love a rarer cooking of bigger meats – so turkey is a natural. Gamay also shows cranberry and spice and often a little black pepper, which will join the dinner festivities. BC Gamay has a pretty, sometimes smoky nose with loads of juicy red berries and herbal notes that work well with your accompanying vegetables.

TD – Pinot Noir. Now, Pinot Noir is quite versatile and changes its profile throughout the world but Oregon (Willamette Valley or Dundee Hills) Pinot exhibits a wonderful black cherry and cranberry flavour profile with usually enough extraction to stand up those sprouts and sweet potatoes. Mushrooms, chestnuts and Pinot Noir are a heavenly match. All exhibit a certain earthiness, which comes together to be very satisfying on the palate. The fact that pinot noir can produce a lighter wine with less overall tannins than Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon also make it a great pairing for the turkey as it won’t overpower the delicate flavours of the bird.




Turkey Tacos
Shredded turkey, Garlic, Tomatoes, Black beans, Chili powder, Salsa, Sour cream, Cheddar

PS – I would pair a well-made, dry sparkling wine.  It doesn’t need to be expensive but should have a crisp, refreshing, acidic character that would stand up to the acidity from the tomatoes. Something from the Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Spain, France, Italy would all work well.


Oriental Turkey Stir-fry
Cubed Turkey, Shitake Mushrooms, Rice, Broccoli, Cashews, Ginger, Tamari Sauce, Green Onions

JG – Any excuse to drink Riesling is a good one, and with this dish, a Riesling with a bit of sweetness is the perfect partner. Riesling has that beautiful acidity that cleans your palate, and with its tendency towards lower alcohol, it handles spice like a dream. Remember – alcohol and spice don’t get along. Look to Germany’s Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region for some beautiful options, or closer to home there are increasingly great examples to be found in Washington State’s Columbia Valley.


Turkey and Pancetta Spiedini
Cooked Turkey, Pancetta, Red Pepper, Spaghettini, Parmesan, Pine Nuts, Tomato, Olive Oil, Cayenne

TD – It is pasta so why not drink an Italian wine? In particular, Northern Italy’s Piedmont comes to mind, home to great food friendly reds Barolo, Barbera, and Barbaresco. For this particular pasta, I recommend a young Barbaresco. It has the great natural acidity to cut through the richness of the pine nuts, olive oil and cheese but also the structure and tannin of the Nebbiolo grape to stand up to the pancetta and red pepper. Traditionally, these old world wines are not too high in alcohol either so they work well with a little spice (cayenne). Plus, you don’t have to feel guilty about opening a second bottle!

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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