Thanksgiving Day Citrus Sage Roasted Turkey Wine Pairing



1 (5- to 6- pound) turkey breast, at room temperature for 1 hour

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, well softened

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest


Freshly ground black pepper

1 navel orange

1/2 medium red onion, cut into wedges


1 1/2 to 2 cups brown turkey stock or low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Special equipment:

Flameproof roasting pan (not glass) with a V-rack

Instant-read thermometer

1-quart glass measuring cup

Aluminum foil




Turkey breast:


Heat the oven to 425°F with the rack at the lowest position. Discard excess fat from inside of turkey cavity, and pat it dry inside and out.




Stir together butter, sage, lemon zest, 1 t. salt, and 1/2 t. pepper in a small bowl. Grate enough zest from the orange to measure 1 t. and add it to the butter mixture. Halve the orange lengthwise and save one half for later. Cut the remaining half into wedges.




Starting at the wider, thicker end of the breast, gently slide an your index fingers between the skin and the flesh of the turkey to loosen its skin, leaving everything attached at other end (be careful not to tear the skin). Push the butter mixture evenly under the skin on both sides of the breast and massage the skin from the outside to distribute the butter evenly.




Put the turkey on the V rack in the roasting pan and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Put the orange and red onion wedges in the area between the rack and the turkey’s breast. Add 1 C. of water to the pan and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven to 350°F, rotate the turkey 180 degrees, baste it with pan juice, then repeat the rotating and basting after another 30 minutes.




Tent the turkey loosely with aluminum foil and continue to roast about another 25-40 minutes until the thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast (being careful not to touch the bone) reads 165°F. Baste the turkey once more, and add 1/2 cup water if the pan becomes dry. Transfer the turkey to a platter, reserving the juices in the pan. Let the turkey stand uncovered for 25 minutes.





While the turkey stands, pour the pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into the measuring cup. Skim off and discard the fat. Add 1 C. of water to the roasting pan, and boil it over high heat on 2 burners, deglazing the pan. Pour the liquid through sieve into the measuring cup, and add enough turkey stock it bring the total to 2 ¼ cups.




Melt butter in over medium-low heat and whisk in flour over 3 minutes to create roux. Add the turkey juices, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, bring it to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


As we like to say in the business of pairing: “If it grows together, it goes together," from the idea that regional cuisine is encompassed of wines and food that naturally evolve together. Not entirely applicable in contemporary America, a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, the spirit of Thanksgiving does beckon one to appreciate some fantastic American wines.


For reds, something light in body will work well with substantial Thanksgiving Day fare. Pinot Noir's soft berry and herbal bottom match heavenly with poultry, and the earthiness of this Oregon Pinot Noir pairs very well with the plentiful ground-given side vegetables.

For whites, a full-bodied California Chardonnay will stand up well to a rich, Thanksgiving platter. A bit of toasty oak and delicate creaminess marries fittingly with buttery mashed potatoes and gravy while brightening the citrus in the turkey.

Flowery and fruit forward wines can also act in brilliant contrast to the heavy and savory Thanksgiving plateful. A Washington Riesling dry for dinner, sweet with pie, cuts through the richness of the cuisine.

At the Wine Dispensary, we will be raising many a glass in thanks for our friends in the wine business, the creative chefs that provide us with dazzling recipes like this one, and our amazing travels to scenic wine countrysides all over the world!

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