Wining and Brining: Using Wine to Brine Your Turkey

Infuse flavor and keep your turkey nice and juicy with this brining method.

There’s more to wine than sips by the glass. This month, we’re partnering with Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt to share tips, insights and recipes featuring wine as the main ingredient.

You aren’t the only one who enjoys a good Pinot on Thanksgiving. This year, why not give your bird a drink with this flavorful, wine-based brine?

Yes, in recent years, brining turkeys has become a fairly commonplace method to give the traditional Thanksgiving dish a better chance at staying nice and juicy while also infusing a lot more flavor. Thanks to the soft fruit notes of red wine along with a bit of five spice powder, fresh herbs and juniper, you’ll have a bath that will give your turkey a beautiful, slightly wine-hued bronzed coat and an intriguing flavor that will make a lasting impression this Thanksgiving.

And what about the gravy?

There’s no better fit for a wine-brined turkey than a pinot noir gravy. The simplicity of the gravy recipe below begs for great quality ingredients, so be sure to use a wonderful wine and nice, flavorful stock. Trust your instincts when seasoning – the amount of salt you choose to use will depend on the salinity of your drippings, so season to taste.


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Pinot Noir Brined Turkey with Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Juniper + Bay

"Choose a mid-range pinot for your brine. One that you enjoy drinking but also isn’t too pricey. Save the more expensive wine for the gravy." – Ashley



2 cups water

1 1/2 cups salt

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons five spice powder

5 sprigs thyme

5 bay leaves

1 ½ tablespoons juniper berries

1 bottle pinot noir, ideally chilled

1 quart ice cubes

1 turkey, 12-15 lbs, defrosted if frozen

Pinot Noir Gravy:

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons pinot noir

1 cup turkey stock

1 cup drippings

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup heavy cream


Begin this recipe the day before you plan to serve your turkey.

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, salt, sugar and spices.  Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes.  Refrigerate until cool.

In a container or pot large enough to hold your turkey, mix the wine, cooled brine and ice cubes.  Add the turkey.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Pinot Noir Gravy

In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup pinot noir with the turkey stock and drippings. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil.

In a small bowl whisk together the 2 tablespoons wine with the cornstarch. Whisk this into the gravy and let gently boil for 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream.

Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

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