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Wines to drink with turkey curry – Christmas leftovers

From the juicy red fruit of a Spanish Mencía to the exotic spice of Pinot Gris, Fiona Beckett talks you through pairings for turkey leftovers in this classic article from our archive - with new wine recommendations.

If you’ve gone for the traditional turkey in 2021 and are considering how to use those leftovers, then here is some pairing advice, including ideas for matching wines with turkey curry.

Wines with turkey curry: styles to try

  • Viognier
  • Riesling
  • Pinot Gris
  • Full-bodied rosé

Wines for turkey leftovers in general

  • Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc with creamy dishes
  • Pinot Noir, Gamay or Spanish Mencia with cold turkey, pickles and chutney

Scroll down for wine recommendations

Curry is a great, warming choice for this time of year, but remember you’ll be entering a different register wine-wise if you go down this road.

If you crave the zesty flavours of citrus and spice after days of rich eating, you’ll also no doubt fancy a brighter zestier wine.

For me that means an aromatic white wine. Try something like a Viognier if you’ve given the turkey the korma treatment, or a Clare Valley Riesling.

You could also opt for a Pinot Gris from New Zealand’s Marlborough region if you’ve taken it more in a south-east Asian direction with a Thai green curry. The exotic spices in the wine should work wonders.

Off-dry Riesling – with just a touch of sweetness married to the natural acidity of this variety – is also widely regarded by sommeliers as a good match with dishes that have a bit of heat, as this recent Decanter guide on pairing wine with spicy food shows.

Strong, fruity rosés can handle a fair bit of spice, too.

Going cold turkey with wine

Cold Boxing Day turkey is undoubtedly the simplest and the least demanding way you’ll serve leftovers, unless you go into overdrive with the pickles and chutneys.

Without them you should enjoy a youthful red Burgundy or cru Beaujolais.

If chutneys and pickles are in the mix, then a riper, more robustly fruity Pinot Noir from, say, California, Oregon or New Zealand would probably work better.

Or, if you want to break out of the classic mould, try something else exuberantly juicy like a Mencía from Bierzo or an Austrian Blaufränkisch.

Turkey in a creamy sauce

If your turkey is smothered in a creamy sauce, as in a turkey pot pie or that rich retro favourite turkey divan, I’d go for a subtly oaked Chardonnay or rich old vine Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Chardonnay, as I’m sure you all know, loves cream.

And with a turkey hash? Well if you’ve jambalayed it up with a bit of spice and sausage then it’s back to the reds, I reckon. A simple Syrah/Shiraz or a young Rioja should do nicely.

The golden rule

As with so many other dishes, it’s the flavours you put with turkey that dictate the match.

Fiona Beckett’s website is matchingfoodandwine.com. This article was first published in 2016 and updated in December 2021 by Ines Salpico, including new wine tasting notes from Decanter experts (see below).  

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Expert reviews of wines to match with turkey curry:

Recommendations by Decanter’s editorial team.
Wines grouped by style and ordered by score, in descending order. 

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