Turkey, Tempranillo and Sweet Potatoes for a Creative Thanksgiving #winePW

Tempranillo paired with roasted turkey and sweet potatoes

I’ve fallen into a Thanksgiving wine pairing rut in recent years. Pinot Noir is a solid choice to go with the traditional Thanksgiving meal my Dad prepares. This creative Thanksgiving wine pairings theme for Wine Pairing Weekend #6 was a perfect time for me to experiment with both the recipes and the wine pairings. If you do make this, plan to make the Turkey with Butternut Squash Stew with the leftovers!

I started with the wine for this pairing. I’d enjoyed the 2012 Pinuaga Nature Tempranillo and had another bottle on hand. I suspected it had enough fruit to work with a Thanksgiving meal, but had some spice elements that would work if I introduced some lively flavors into our meal.

With this Tempranillo in mind, I decided I would put one of my favorite side dishes on our creative Thanksgiving pairings menu: Sweet Potatoes with Cumin Sage Butter. I’ve linked you over to that tasty recipe, to focus on the turkey and wine pairing here.

Sweet Potatoes with Cumin Sage Butter

Now, here’s the thing about the turkey. I’m an experienced cook, yet a roasted turkey neophyte. Certainly with all the hype about the challenge of getting a turkey cooked right, I figured I’d need to do some research to do a good job with our turkey. Keeping with my usual approach to new recipes, I looked at a bunch of recipes and tips to identify some common themes, then found a recipe from Bobby Flay that I used as my primary reference. I made enough tweaks to the turkey preparation to share it here as my own, but will link you to Bobby’s recipe for reference and for the sage gravy, which I did not update.
Roasted Turkey with Garlic Herb Butter
This was my first whole roasted turkey, but I’ve prepared a lot of roast chicken. So I carried over much of that approach, and picked a smaller turkey that was roughly double the size of a roast chicken. I made a flavorful garlic herb butter to rub all over the turkey, and added some chopped root veggies to the cavity. I went with the approach of starting on higher heat (450), then reducing after 15 minutes, in order to get the outside browned nicely. It cooked up faster than I thought it might, definitely done but still plenty moist at a bit under 2 hours cooking time. Here’s a good post on checking turkey for doneness.

Tempranillo paired with turkey and sweet potatoes for #winePW 6.
Wine Pairing: So we had on our plate flavorful, moist turkey with sage gravy; and a side of the Sweet Potatoes with Cumin Sage Butter. The 2012 Pinuaga Nature Tempranillo is a substantial wine, with good berry fruit and leathery mouthfeel. There’s some layered complexity here, with some nice spices. Those spices picked up the flavors in the sweet potatoes pretty nicely. I’d say overall this worked pretty well with the pared down creative Thanksgiving meal we were doing for this #winePW event. But for a full Thanksgiving feast with many varied sides, a simpler wine might be a better option. There’s a lot going on in this wine–generally a good thing in my book. But I might be back to my Pinot when Thanksgiving officially rolls around later this month.

4.5 from 2 reviews
Roasted Turkey with Garlic Herb Butter
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A garlicky herb butter gives this roasted turkey recipe plenty of flavor and moistness!
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
  • 1 small turkey, about 10 lbs.
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 parsnip, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of thyme leaves
  • 4 whole sprigs of thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Sage Gravy via Bobby Flay's recipe
  1. Take the turkey out of refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 450.
  3. Make the butter: combine the butter with the garlic, parsley, rosemary and 1 sprig of thyme leaves. Stir so all the ingredients are well combined, then stir in salt and pepper to taste. Set the butter aside.
  4. Remove turkey from packaging, rinse and pat dry. Remove neck and any organs from inside the turkey (if you're a whole turkey newbie, fear not, these are usually packaged in tidy little bags).
  5. Rub the entire turkey with the butter mixture, making sure all the skin is well-covered. Put any remaining butter into the carcass, along with half of the onion, carrot and parsley.
  6. Pour the chicken stock into a sauce pan, and keep warm on medium low.
  7. Place turkey in the oven for 15 minutes at 450.
  8. Lower the oven temp to 350, and roast turkey approximately 1 hour 45 minutes, removing every 15 to 20 minutes to baste with some of the chicken stock.
  9. When the turkey is approaching the safe internal temp of 165 degrees, remove from oven and set on platter to rest while you make the gravy.
  10. Slice turkey and serve with gravy, sweet potatoes and other sides over your choice when the gravy is ready--give the turkey a good 20 minutes to rest while you prep gravy.
  11. See post details above for links to gravy directions and more on safe turkey cooking tips.

Creative Thanksgiving-Inspired Dishes and Wine Pairings

Turkey, Tempranillo and Sweet Potatoes by Cooking Chat
Thanksgiving from the Veneto: Turkey, Pomegranate Sauce & Valpolicella by foodwineclick
Norwegian Meatballs by Confessions of a Culinary Diva
Shepherds Pie Casserole with Barnard Griffin Syrah Port by Wild 4 Washington Wine
Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding and Donkey & Goat Stone Crusher by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog

Purple Sweet Potato Soup with Roasted Lobster + Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Arugula Pear Salad paired with Torrontes from Argentina by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Layered Sweet Potato and Apple Bake with Cranberry Blush by Curious Cuisiniere

Walnut Tart with Sparkling Brachetto d’Acqui by Vino Travels — An Italian Wine Blog
Can we skip to dessert? by Pull That Cork

Don’t Forget Leftovers!
Day After Turkey and Seafood Gumbo by It’s Ok To Eat The Cupcake
Turkey Pot Pie and Boedecker Cellars Chardonnay by Tasting Pour

You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later!

Don’t forget to our Twitter chat today, November 8th at 11 a.m. Eastern Time! We’ll be talking about our tips and tricks for the best Thanksgiving wine pairings. We’d love to have you join us!

And, be sure to mark your calendars for December’s Wine Pairing Weekend, hosted by Jeff of foodwineclick. Just in time for Holiday parties, we’ll be sharing sparkling wine and hors d’oeuvre pairings. Join in the #WinePW 7 conversation on Saturday Dec. 13!



  1. says

    The new site looks great! Funny I was just reading recently that Rioja was one of a handful (along with Pinot Noir and Riesling of course) wines. I think it would be a great choice for T-Day! Having said that a lot depends on who you’re serving…Cheers!

  2. says

    What a great idea to break out of the rut with Tempranillo! My biggest problem with wines at the Thanksgiving table is to convince guests to try something new.

    • Cooking Chat says

      Thanks Sarah!I was glad to take the plunge over to this new site, now to figure out more about all the new features!

    • Cooking Chat says

      I know what you mean Jen, hard to find time for everything we want to get done. Glad to have made the move though.

  3. says

    Yum! Love yams and your recipe looks delicious. Your Tempranillo pairing is one we must try. We usually cook our turkey on the grill. Ii’t a beautiful mahogany color and very smoky when finished. It would be a great pairing with Tempranillo. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Your new website look great. So clean and classy!


  4. says

    Love the idea of pairing Tempranillo with Thanksgiving. And cumin with sweet potato is a great idea too. A little smokiness to the turkey (smoked turkey anyone?) might tie the Tempranillo to dinner more. I’m not one to comment on turkey, I don’t cook the turkey in our home. A heavier gravy might help match the Tempranillo too. Nancy had good comments. Adding to my list. Thank you for sharing.

    • Cooking Chat says

      Very good ideas, William! I’ll have to retry the combo sometime with the smokey element & heavier gravy. That might be just perfect!


  1. […] About the Pairing: I’ve experimented over the years with different Thanksgiving wine pairings, but I always seem to keep coming back to Pinot Noir as my favorite choice for the holiday. With a lot of folks and a lot going on around the table, this isn’t the time for a splurge Pinot. Rather, I want something that tastes great and complements the food nicely. I tried the Ellipsis Pinot Noir from Sonoma County and immediately pegged it as one I’d bring with me to the Thanksgiving feast this year. I noted it tasted of “chocolate and strawberries”. I’ll have report back on how it goes with the meal! I’m not cooking the turkey, but if you’re looking for my version of roast turkey, you can get that recipe here. […]

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