Turkey is lean white meat, with low-fat content, but with good flavor. When looking for the best red wine to enjoy with turkey, the most important thing to remember is to avoid excessive tannin.
Tannins are much better suited for high-fat meats and cheeses, as they will be softened by the meat. With turkey, there is little fat to soften tannins, especially of a big, bold, young wine. The sometimes-harsh feelings of tannins in the mouth will be accentuated, eclipsing other flavors.
Don’t forget that the turkey won’t be served just on its own. With the likely gravy, mashed or roast potatoes, and stuffing, your plate can be fairly salty. This can make tannins taste more bitter.
Low to medium tannin wines then are ideal to bring out the light flavors of the meat, without overpowering it with sweetness. Think lush, medium-bodied fruity reds. And with myriad flavors and textures of the meal as a whole, better one with medium to high acidity to cope.
|1. Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva Rioja 2011
|2. Reata Pinot Noir 2018
|3. Pierre-Marie Chermette Les Trois Roches Moulin-à-Vent 2018
|4. Navaherreros Garnacha de Bernabeleva 2018
|5. Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2017
Therefore, a bottle of fruit-driven red wine with a bit of earthiness, a good crunch of acidity, and low tannin is what you should look for. We’ve selected, tasted, and reviewed what we think are the best red wines that go with turkey for you to consider.
Our Best Red Wines With Turkey Reviews and Comparisons
1. Reata Pinot Noir 2018
Pinot Noir is thought of as THE red with turkey. With good reason. It has everything that we’re looking for and the nuanced flavors of red fruit and earthy mushrooms won’t overwhelm. So long as you avoid the lighter Burgundy Pinot which could be overpowered by the range of flavors on your plate.
That won’t be the case with Reata Pinot Noir 2018 which combines grapes from three counties along California’s coast that are especially known for Pinot Noir.
- Variety: Pinot Noir, Californian Red
- Appellation: Three Counties, California
- Winery: Reata
- Alcohol: 14.5%
- Bottle Size: 750 ml
What We Like About Reata Pinot Noir 2018
With plenty of creamy and ripe dark cherries, Reata Pinot Noir has lots of middle palates for a complex and layered wine of fragrant red fruits. Aging in French oak casks provides subtle spices and structure. Its tannins and acidity are perfectly balanced for turkey, with the bonus of lingering end.
What We Don’t Like About Reata Pinot Noir 2018
One criticism is that there’s not much discernible fruit on the nose, with greener notes of pines and stalks dominating.
We found Reata Pinot Noir 2018 to be a little over-oaked with the vanilla dominating.
- Light but bold enough without being overwhelming
- Full taste and perfect balance
- Hardly any aromas of fruits in the mouth
2. Pierre-Marie Chermette Les Trois Roches Moulin-à-Vent 2018
Gamay is often underrated and it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that all Gamay wines are lightweight. Too lightweight even for turkey.
Not so, especially in those 10 Beaujolais Crus known for making wines with more power and depth, such as Moulin-à-Vent.
- Variety: 100% Gamay
- Appellation: Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais, France
- Winery: Pierre-Marie Chermette
- Alcohol: 13%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About Pierre-Marie Chermette Les Trois Roches Moulin-à-Vent 2018
Firstly, the welcoming bouquet of deep black raspberries, lively spices, candied peel, and floral peonies. Then its full concentration of fruits on the palate, with luxuriously satin mouth-feel that masks the tannins. With its full body and crisp acidity, the balance is on the mark for turkey.
But with this still family-owned winery now in its 5th generation that shouldn’t be any surprise.
What We Don’t Like About Pierre-Marie Chermette Les Trois Roches Moulin-à-Vent 2018
This one might need a little longer to smooth out the tannins.
- Very gluggable
- One of the very best value French wines
- Borderline on the tannins for turkey
3. Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva Rioja 2011
The subject of age brings us nicely to this choice. Mature Rioja from Tempranillo grapes of a mature Rioja combines earthy, mushroomy aromas with bright red fruit and medium-weight tannins. All are present in this 2011 Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva Rioja.
The praise for this strong and muscular Gran Reserva Rioja is almost off the charts.
James Suckling gives it 99pts, and Robert Parker, Jr’s Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast both 96. The latter named it #8 Top 100 Cellar Selection for that year.
- Variety: 80% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache (Mazuelo and Graciano)
- Appellation: Rioja, Spain
- Winery: Muga Prado Enea
- Alcohol: 14%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva Rioja 2011
There’s no doubt that this is a new classic from one of the top wineries in Spain.
While you’d expect a developed nose after 10 years since harvesting, followed by aging and bottling. But you don’t take it for granted that will be as much as a full-on delight as the aromas here of ripe blackberries, earthy plums, and sweet spices.
They perfectly set up a palate that illustrates the unusually hot year that was 2011. The dark berry and plum flavors are again full, but now with truffle and balsamic providing some earth, and further layers of depth from the cedary spice, and hints of smoky ash and sweet incense. Wonderfully plush tannins with electric acidity mean that it’s fully developed, as well as finely balanced for a seductively long finish.
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What We Don’t Like About Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva Rioja 2011
While ready to drink now, you’ll need to show remarkable restraint not to. It’s going to further develop in the bottle for a long time. If you haven’t got the patience for that, at least have to decant if drinking now, because similarly it better the longer it sits.
- Out of this world
- True class in a glass
- But can you wait?
If you’ve overcooked the turkey slightly and it’s just a little bit dry, then a Grenache with its wonderfully concentrated bold fruit is your best friend.
The lovely balance and texture of this Navaherreros Garnacha de Bernabeleva 2018 make it a very fine red wine to serve with turkey.
- Variety: 100% Garnacha (Grenache)
- Region: D. O. Madrid, Spain
- Winery: Navaherreros
- Alcohol: 14.5%
- Bottle Size: 750 ml
What We Like About Navaherreros Garnacha de Bernabeleva 2018
2018 provided good yields and slow ripening of the grapes for the typical aromatic floral of the Garnacha varietal. Add the just-right granite textures from the soils. It’s fresh and balanced in the mouth with fine tannins.
The winery adheres to biodynamic and organic practices with all vineyard work done by hand.
What We Don’t Like About Navaherreros Garnacha de Bernabeleva 2018
It’s touch-and-go if this one is too acidic, but that’s why we’ve recommended with drier turkey in particular.
- Sultry and nuanced
- Great value
- A bit too acidic?
5. Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2017
Sangiovese grapes are everything that we’ve described above. Even more so, when there is the tendency to go a bit overboard with turkey and serve up lots of sides of potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, and sauces (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?!). A wine with enlivening acidity is more crucial than ever. A good Chianti Classico is just that.
Even better when it’s a Reserve like this 2017 Volpaia. It has everything that you’re looking for, and more; a tantalizing bouquet, rich fruit, and is well-structured with both smooth medium tannins, and of course the required acidity, for a lovely long finish.
- Variety: Sangiovese, Italian Red
- Appellation: Chianti, Tuscany
- Winery: Volpaia
- Alcohol: 14%
- Bottle Size: 750 ml
What We Like About Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2017
This is rich with berries and cherries of ripe organically grown grapes, but nicely supported by lemon and fresh herb tones, and just enough earthy notes. As well as the necessary medium-to-full body, fine tannins, and lively acidity.
Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2017 also has great versatility. Buy more than one bottle (or more than two if you’re going to drink both with your turkey!) and it’s brilliantly suited with so many foods. Not just other meats like chicken and lamb, but also of course many of the Italian classics like pizza, pasta, and risotto.
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What We Don’t Like About Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2017
Perhaps it’s not quite what you expect from a Riserva and would probably benefit from aging longer in oak barrels than 24 months. But with turkey, that’s an advantage.
- Goes well with ham and other cold meats
- Highly rated with 97 points
- Not that rounded features for a dry Sangiovese
There are some great choices here, all of different varietals, with a claim to be the best red wine for turkey. But for us, there’s only one true winner.
It’s on the more expensive side than the others, but as it’s often likely that it will be with a special occasion holiday bird, then if you can splurge a bit on the wine with Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva Rioja 2011.