Thanksgiving is just around the corner and for most of us, meal planning takes center stage. It is the quintessential feasting holiday from the bird and side dishes, to the wide array of desserts. I’m hungry just thinking about it!

But what about the wine? Often it becomes an afterthought, or a last-minute, even overwhelming decision. How do we please all the guests? What will match with the turkey, cranberry sauce, and the other dozen trimmings?

Well, first of all, if you’re traveling through Finger Lakes Wine Country, live in the area, or reside in a state in which you can buy wine online, you can relax. You have plenty of options right at your fingertips! And while this ease of access and variety of options here in this stunning cool-climate wine region solves one problem, it can still be intimidating to know where to start. So, let’s begin with the basics.

Throw Out the “Rules”

First, throw the old wine rules out the window. Poultry and Thanksgiving aren’t only for white wine. While white wines will pair beautifully, they're not for everyone and a good rosé or red wine can be just as complementary. Second, drink what you like. Whether you prefer a sweeter Riesling or one that’s bone dry, there’s no reason not to pick a wine best suited to you. Wine is not about points or reviews, it’s simply a beautiful drink meant to be enjoyed and shared with friends or family. It’s far more personal than a random number. What’s more, you don’t have to blow your budget to put a high-quality wine on your table. Many outstanding options are available at reasonable prices. And lastly, why not pick a few options? No one says you have to choose only one kind of wine for your table. Have some fun and play around with various options – you may even discover a new pairing you love.

Now that we’ve tossed the old rules out the window, let’s talk potential options of every style – all of which are found here in Finger Lakes Wine Country.

Scroll to discover them all, or click to skip to your favorites!
Sparkling >
White >
Rosé >
Red >
Dessert >

Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines are always a fantastic option. They add that effervescence to the party, not to mention the higher acidity of these wines delightfully complement the buttery turkey and stuffing. You can find an array of bubbly options in wineries throughout the Finger Lakes, but here are a few of my personal favorites for Thanksgiving:

Sparkling Gewürztraminer

Atwater Estate Vineyards

Gewürztraminer, with its floral nose and citrusy finish, has long been a recommended Thanksgiving wine, but this sparkling version adds a new bubbly twist.

🛒 Buy


Pétillant Naturel

Atwater Estate Vineyards

Pet Nat is the cool kid on the block this year. This ancestral method (the wine is bottled prior to fully completing its first fermentation, allowing carbon dioxide to be produced by the natural sugars found in the grapes) sparkling wine is a blend of Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, and Riesling and is a lower alcohol option for the table.

🛒 Buy


Blanc de Blanc

J.R. Dill Winery

This is a classic 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine, hand harvested, whole-cluster pressed and aged for three years on the lees. Translation – you’ll find all the Champagne-esque apple, lemon, and creamy goodness here.

🛒 Buy


Blanc de Noirs

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery

Dr. Frank has long been a favorite for Champagne Method bubbles in the Finger Lakes and the Blanc de Noirs presents beautiful flavors of fruit, minerals, and a classic creaminess.

🛒 Buy


Brickstone Cellars Extra Dry

Pleasant Valley Wine Company

If sweeter wines are more to your liking, this Extra Dry sparkling wine is a semi-sweet option from Catawba and Delaware grapes (and also from the first bonded winery in the US!).

🛒 Buy

Back to top ↑


White Wines

White wines are often the go-to for Thanksgiving with Gewürztraminer as the classic pairing, but a Burgundian-style Chardonnay with its creamy oakiness, or a citrusy Riesling with its higher acidity, will pair just as well. Here are a few options to get you started:

Winzer Select Riesling A

Weis Vineyards

This wine is reminiscent of the German-style Auslese, meaning "selected harvest.” These grapes are hand harvested with a portion of the grapes affected with Botrytis, also known as noble rot, which lends a sweetness to the wine which is balanced by the vibrant acidity.

🛒 Buy


Frances Amelia Riesling

Buttonwood Grove Winery

This Riesling is aged in neutral oak, which means you won’t pick up on any oaky notes, but the wine has a more rounded mouthfeel and is bone dry with stone fruit flavors and a long finish.

🛒 Buy


Riesling Magdalena Vineyard

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard

The Noble Select line of Riesling at Hermann J. Wiemer showcase all that Riesling can be! With floral notes and a mouth-coating freshness, this Riesling will impress.

🛒 Buy


Barrel Select Chardonnay

Domaine LeSeurre Winery

This wine, reminiscent of Burgundy, is aged 11 months in French oak barrels with weekly stirring of the lees. In other words, it’s creamy and beautiful. And don’t be scared off by the use of oak on this Chardonnay – this won’t be buttery or oaky. This is a classic and elegant wine.

🛒 Buy



Keuka Spring Vineyards

A classic Thanksgiving pairing for its ability to stand up to strong flavors. This Keuka Lake beauty is classically floral on the nose with rich fruit notes and a long, clean finish.

🛒 Buy



Bloomer Creek Vineyard

For something a little different, try this blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and the Finger Lakes’ own grape – Cayuga White. It’s a delightfully crisp and complex wine made in an Alsatian style.

Learn More >

Back to top ↑


Rosé Wines

Rosé all day! Well, at least all year. That’s right, it’s not just for summertime. Rosé can be enjoyed year-round and adds a splash of color to the Thanksgiving table. My recommendations for the big day would be:

Pinot Noir Rosé

Nathan K Wines

A low interventionist when it comes to winemaking, Nathan K wines are definitely Old World in style. This particular rosé is direct pressed and fermented/aged in neutral French oak. This wine is more savory than fruity and will be a beautiful complement to the Thanksgiving turkey.

Learn More >


Pinot Noir Rosé

Thirsty Owl Wine Company

For a more fruit-forward rosé from Pinot Noir, Thirsty Owl’s will bring tart citrus and peach flavors with bright acidity.

🛒 Buy

Back to top ↑


Red Wines

For red wine lovers, there are certainly plenty of options throughout the Finger Lakes, from Pinot Noir to Cabernet Franc. For Thanksgiving you’ll want a red wine with less tannins and higher acidity to complement the many flavors of the meal. Fortunately, that’s exactly the kind of red wines done expertly in this cool climate region. Here are a few red recommendations for the big day:


Fulkerson Winery

This Austrian grape is proving to do very well in the Finger Lakes and you can find it at Fulkerson. It’s fruit driven with medium body and tannins and flavors of cherries and red currants.

🛒 Buy


Leidenfrost Vineyard Pinot Noir

Forge Cellars

Forge is known for terroir-driven wines and specializes in Pinot Noir. This particular Pinot is sourced from the Leidenfrost Vineyard which will bring nuanced minerality, raspberry, and spiced plum notes to the whole cluster pressed wine.

🛒 Buy


T23 Unoaked Cabernet Franc

Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars

Cabernet Franc has long been one of my favorite varietals produced in the Finger Lakes and this unoaked version from Lamoreaux brings all of the cherry and cranberry flavors with a freshness and smoothness from the stainless steel aging.

🛒 Buy

Back to top ↑


Dessert Wines

What is Thanksgiving without dessert? And, of course, we have wines for that, too! The trick to pairing wine with dessert is to make sure it’s sweeter than what you’re serving. And ice wine provides that lusciousness ideal for many desserts. Traditional ice wine is made by harvesting and pressing while frozen. Allowing the grapes to freeze essentially traps water, concentrating the grape’s sugar and acidity, guaranteeing the extracted syrupy juice will be extra sweet. The options below are perfect pairings for pumpkin, apple, or pecan pie.

Riesling Ice Wine

Boundary Breaks Vineyard

This sweet wine will offer notes of honey mingled with pear and mango. It’s luscious and full-bodied and will leave your mouth coated in syrupy goodness. (Not recommended with chocolate desserts.)

🛒 Buy


Cabernet Franc Ice Wine

Montezuma Winery

This sweet ice wine offers intense flavors of strawberry jam, peaches, and candied orange peel and will pair exceedingly well with chocolate desserts and pecan pie alike.

🛒 Buy

Back to top ↑


No matter your pairing, remember the most important thing about wine is that it’s shared in good company. So, relax, enjoy and have a wonderful holiday.