Wine and Brine Yourself to A Fabulous Thanksgiving

AUTHOR: | POSTED: November 20, 2012 | COMMENTS: 5 Comments

Carolyn Savage

I’m not supposed to be writing this right now. I’m also not supposed to pick up men in wine stores.

Tonight…I deviated from all of my plans.

You see, I’m supposed to be putting the finishing touches on my craftastic Thanksgiving table decor while Melanie writes her post about midwifery for her early morning appearance on 101.5 The River tomorrow.  Unfortunately, for Melanie and my Thanksgiving table crafts, she had to cancel last minute, which left me scrambling for something to dazzle the radio audience tomorrow morning.

So scramble I did.  All the way to the our local Anderson’s Market to scour the aisles for a topic.

Turns out my last minute trip for inspiration was the smartest move I’ve made all week.  Leave it to The Anderson’s to have Thanksgiving experts minding their aisles armed and ready to assist desperate individuals like myself.

Expert # 1      You look like you need help.

Me                      I do.  If you had one piece of advice for Thanksgiving cooks…something that would guarantee their holiday bird would be absolute, sing from the rafters perfection….what would it be?

Expert #1         Brine.  Never ever roast, deep fry, grill, or smoke a turkey without brining it first.

Score one for “desperate for a topic Carolyn” because I couldn’t agree more with the advice.  Our family started brining our turkeys a few years ago after I watched an episode of Martha Stewart.  I was mesmerized by the concept of basically marinating a turkey.  It struck me a brilliant as I have never had a piece of marinated anything that I didn’t instantly love.  Growing up I wasn’t a fan of turkey.  I used to tell my parents that when I was the cook I was going to come up with a turkey that was tastier….”I’ll stir fry it or something“…just to give it some zing.  Little did any of us realize then, that brining a turkey renders the juiciest, tenderest (yes…I know…not a word but it works) and tastiest meat.

The first year I bought my brine from a fancy pants cooking store in the mall.  It cost almost as much as the bird but was worth every penny.  The next year I made my own  for a fraction of the cost, and let me tell you…it was better.

So, thank you Anderson’s expert #1.   I now have the first part of my schtick with Rick tomorrow.  Brining recipe and tips are at the bottom of the post!

Soon after I skipped away from Thanksgiving expert #1, I found myself wandering through Anderson’s extensive wine store.  Now I will be the first to tell anyone, I’m not a wine girl.  I’m more of a cranberry and vodka (or orange juice and vodka…or pineapple juice and vodka…or just plain vodka) girl.  My knowledge of wines is not good which must have been evident on my face as before I could even begin to look for some help, Anderson’s Thanksgiving expert #2, was on point.

Expert #2          You look like you need help.  (See the theme developing here, folks?)

Me                          I do.  What kind of wine goes with Thanksgiving dinner?

Expert #2            Follow me….

Here’s his advice…verbatim…

Pinot Noir

Let’s start with a good Pinot Noir!  Kind of the safest bet of the three wines he recommended because they have a softer mild tanen, unlike the bite of a Cabernet.  Usually nuanced with  lighter black berry flavors, they don’t necessarily compliment what most Americans are eating for Thanksgiving dinner, but they also don’t compete against it.  A good Pinot Noir won’t overwhelm your palate while you are enjoying all the fare of your meal.  (God forbid…I don’t want an overwhelmed palate!  I’m already overwhelmed enough!)

Highly recommended Pinot Noir!

Another highly recommended Pinor Noir and it is locally made!



Choosing a Reisling is a little more “out of the box” but a good choice because Reislings have a lot of acidity and minerality to them thus complimenting a lot of the richness of the traditional Thanksgiving meal.  (And this girl is looking for all the compliments she can get.  So I bought a bottle of that too!)



For a walk on the wild side this Thanksgiving, Ken (aka…Expert #2 ) recommended trying a Meads.  Meads also called honey wine, is a white wine that is produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water in French oak.  According to Ken (who quickly became my new bff) Meads has a real earthiness from the honey but also bright flavors with hints of florals and a little bit of minerality.  Ken also thinks Meads would appeal to the general midwest palate because they are a little sweeter but not too sugary sweet.

I was sold.    I bought a bottle for Rick!

This is a local vintage, made in Ferndale, Michigan! Highly recommended!

Ken guaranteed all of these choices.  I guaranteed him a spot on the radio with me if he was up to it.  And he was.  Go figure.

When I came home and told Sean I talked the wine guy from Andersons into saving my rear end on 101.5 The River, tomorrow he laughed and I snickered all the way to my computer to write this post.  I found a secret weapon.  Yay me!

So tune in on Wednesday to hear Rick, me, and my new friend “the wine guy” Ken.  It oughta be a great and informative segment!

Hopefully he doesn’t stand me up!

Now…about that bird…

Turkey Brining Recipe and Tips

Ingredients for Brine

1 cup sea or kosher salt

1 tbs crushed dried rosemary

1 tbs dried sage

1 tbs dried savory

1 tbs dried thyme

1 gallon Apple juice

1 gallon vegetable stock

brining bag

cooler (big enough for turkey)

7 lb. bag of ice


1. In a large stock pot, combine the vegetable broth, sea salt, rosemary, sage, thyme, and savory. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to be sure salt is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.

2.  When the broth mixture is cool, pour it into the brining bag, resting in the cooler. Stir in the apple juice.

3. Wash and dry your turkey. Make sure you have removed the innards. Place the turkey, breast down, into the brine and brining bag. Make sure that the cavity gets filled. Tie the brining bag closed and lay the bag of ice on top of the turkey.  Let marinate overnight.

4.  When ready to cook, remove the turkey from brine, carefully draining off the excess brine and pat dry. Discard excess brine.

5. Cook the turkey as desired reserving the drippings for gravy. Keep in mind that brined turkeys cook 20 to 30 minutes faster so watch the temperature gauge.

Tips for Brining

  • Always brine in a food safe container.  A trash bag or utility plastic bucket is not food safe and contains BPA which can leach into your turkey.  Use a food grade brining bag or bucket for brining.
  • Always keep turkey cold while brining.  Either in an iced down cooler (like described above) or refrigerated.
  • Brined turkeys cook faster.  Watch your cooking thermometer when cooking a brined turkey.
  • Bed, Bath and Beyond or Williams Sonoma sell brining bags.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Now enjoy!

5 Comments on “ Wine and Brine Yourself to A Fabulous Thanksgiving ”

  • Beth | November 21st, 2012 8:27 am

    In the brineing recipe, you left off one of the ingredients. Can you please email me and tell me what it is?


    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Carolyn Savage | November 21st, 2012 10:56 am

    Ah…crushed rosemary! One tbs! Thanks for catching that!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Lori Lavender Luz | November 22nd, 2012 12:25 am

    Taking your advice on both counts. The bird is brining and the Pinot Noir is waiting to be uncorked.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Carolyn!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Carolyn Savage | November 26th, 2012 8:36 am

    I hope you had a wonderful meal and blessed day, Lori!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • June Massey | November 18th, 2014 11:16 pm

    Hello to it may concern:

    I know that about 7 or 8 years ago the Wine Guys had a wine recipe for marinating the turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I made it and the turkey was a hit! I would like the recipe for the marinate. I do not have it anymore or can’t find it and would really appreciate the recipe. I know it has oranges, bok choy, pepper corns etc. Please, if you can, send me the recipe for my Thanksgiving dinner. It is an amazing way to change your Thanksgiving dinner!

    Thank you very much!
    June Massey

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Your Comments are Welcome!

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.