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The Best Local Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving Leftovers

Let’s be honest. Sharing time with friends and family is great, but what really makes Thanksgiving Day so special is the food. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, pie…oh my! And the only thing better than Thanksgiving Day food is Thanksgiving Leftovers.

Whether you’re hunting for deals with the Black Friday crowd or lounging about, you’re bound to work up an appetite — and, of course, a thirst for some wonderful local wine. Check out these wine pairings that go best with your Thanksgiving leftovers!

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Basic Turkey Sandwich

It’s an American classic: a bit of turkey, plus stuffing, and whatever else you can find, layered between two slices of crusty bread. There are a lot of bold flavors in that sandwich, so pair them with something as equally complex and bursting with flavor. We suggest:

2012 Cabernet Franc from Plagido’s Winery.
The wine opens with ripe cherries and dark fruit, crushed roses, and gentle baking spices. Firm, but moderate tannins and a medium-full body help this wine linger from bite to bite.

Turkey Melt Panini

For a more modern twist on the turkey sandwich, try the Turkey Melt Panini (recipe below), which combines cheese, gravy, and cranberry sauce, with the classic roasted turkey and crusty bread. “This is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Thanksgiving leftovers,” said Chef Lindsay Busanich, Union City resident and Professional Pastry Arts chef instructor at the International Culinary Center in New York City, who developed the recipe. “It’s my go-to sandwich until I use up all of the turkey.” And, of course, you need wine with that panini. We suggest:

2013 Estate Reserve Chardonnay from Heritage Winery.
Hints of buttered toast highlight this crisp Chardonnay from the Outer Coastal Plain. Bruised yellow apples and a hint of lemony brine help push this wine forward and through the flavorful layers of Chef Busanich’s panini.

Turkey Soups and Chowder

Warm and soothing, turkey soup can be the ultimate comfort food. If you’re not a whiz in the kitchen, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with recipes from Hunterdon County resident, Chef Philip Burgess for a hearty turkey chowder, and an essential turkey broth. Now, what to drink with your soup? Finding the right pairing for soups can seem daunting, so let the flavors be your guide. Look for a wine that matches the intensity and weight of the soup, for example: the lighter Sauvignon Blanc for consommé, or broth-based soups, such as turkey minestrone.  We suggest:

2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery (for turkey broth).
This French-style, lightly oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc features hints of Bosc pear and apricot and a long, smooth finish buoyed by vanilla and dried coconut.
2013 Chambourcin from Four Sisters Winery (for turkey chowder)
This dry wine features tart, dark cherries and blackberries, spice, and aromas of violet, that blend and mellow along the mid-palate to the finish.

Turkey or Ham

Cold and in your hand, straight from the fridge. Sometimes you’ve just gotta go for it. And sometimes, you don’t even wait until Friday to start snacking. But if you’ve got one hand full of cold meat, that means you’ve got another one free. We suggest putting a wine glass in that hand, and filling that glass with:

2012 Syrah from Bellview Winery  (for the ham)
Bold and spicy, this Syrah leads with notes of dried black fruit, cassis and red berries to its silky palate. The finish is smooth and lingering, with just a touch of smoke that leaves you hungry for more.
2013 Signature Series Viognier from Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery (for the turkey)
Hawk Haven’s award-winning 2013 vintage opens with notes of pineapple, coconut, papaya, yellow flowers and ripe pears. Apricot and pear flavors sweep romantically across the palate before ending in a smooth, long finish.

Now it’s time to use those Thanksgiving Leftovers in some recipes. And the best part is you’ve already got all the ingredients in your fridge!

Leftover Turkey Melt Panini from Chef Lindsay Busanich

Close up of a delicious turkey, spinach, onion, melted cheese and homemade cranberry sauce. Thanksgiving Leftovers


1/4 cup cranberry sauce (fresh or canned works)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 baguette (or any crusty sandwich bread)
4-5 slices leftover turkey meat
2 slices cheese (Cheddar, Brie, or even American)
1/4 cup shredded Brussels sprouts
3 Tbsp. gravy (extra for dipping, optional)


  • Mix the cranberry sauce into mayonnaise (there will be extra after sandwich is assembled).
  • Slice baguette down the center, and spread the gravy on both sides.
  • Fill the sandwich by layering the cheese first, followed by the turkey, Brussels sprouts, and mayonnaise. Make sure to spread the mayo in the center of the sandwich, so that it does not spill out during cooking.
  • Place the sandwich in panini press for about 3-5 minutes, or in an oven heated to 350°F for 5 minutes. Serve warm with additional gravy for dipping, if desired.

Turkey Broth from Chef Philip Burgess

Bowl of broth on a wooden table. Selective focus


1 turkey carcass picked clean
1 medium onion
2 celery stalks
1 large carrot
Plum tomato, roughly chopped
1 bouquet garni, or sachet filled with the following:
1 clove garlic, 1 sprig thyme, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp. black peppercorns, 2-3 sprigs parsley, 1 sprig sage


  • Combine all ingredients in a stockpot and add just enough cold water to cover them (approximately. 1.5-2 gallons).
  • On high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, then right away lower the heat to gentle simmer.
  • Let the stock simmer for about 2-3 hours only.
  • Remove the broth from the heat and let cool over ice. If necessary, skim away any excess fat, and use in the turkey chowder or freeze for chillier days.

Thanksgiving Turkey Lurkey Time Chowder Chef Philip Burgess

Chicken and Corn Soup
LEFTOVER EVERYTHING! The quantities here can be easily varied.


1 qt. mashed potatoes
1 qt. stuffing
2 cups gravy
2 qts turkey broth
2-4 cups chopped turkey meat (white or dark)
2-4 cups vegetables, such as peas, carrots, roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli casserole, green bean casserole
1 tsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste


  • Combine all ingredients in a stock pot with a heavy bottom over medium-low heat. Gently bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir the mixture every once in a while with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching.
  • When the mixture is hot, add the vegetables. This will help prevent them from breaking down and becoming mushy or discoloring during the remaining cooking time.
  • Adjust the consistency of the chowder with any remaining turkey broth or water, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve in a bowl or hearty soup mug with a sprinkle of parsley and  freshly cracked black pepper.

And don’t forget the most important Thanksgiving leftovers step of all — eat, drink and be very, very merry!

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