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The secret to pairing wine with your Thanksgiving dinner

Want to hear a super-easy secret that makes your Thanksgiving turkey juicier, more flavorful — and perfectly paired with the wine you’re serving?

It just so happens that Hannah Simone of TV’s New Girl is a passionate cook who hosts “Friendsgiving” every year for pals who can’t travel home to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. She let us in on what she calls her little cheat: She cooks with the same wine she plans to pair with the dish.

“If I’m making a salad as an appetizer, I’ll add a bright, crisp chardonnay to the dressing,” Simone says. “It makes the pairing better.”

More: 22 Tasty turkey recipes to suit any taste this Thanksgiving

When it comes to pairing wine with the turkey, she turns to the cranberry sauce. “I’m a fan of Sterling Vineyards’ Platinum Red because it has notes of cranberry, currents, blackberry and cherry,” she says. She puts cherries and the red wine in her cranberry sauce, “and then everyone’s like, ‘This is incredible — it goes together so well!'”

Hannah Simone
Image: Kimberly White/Getty Images

Another one of Simone’s tricks is to stuff the turkey with fruit — tropical fruit like lemons and oranges. “It doesn’t give the turkey a tropical flavor,” she says. “It just makes the turkey incredibly moist.” And then she intensifies the flavor by blending caramelized roasted garlic, herbs like thyme and marjoram and some of that same wine with butter, and slathering it between the skin and the flesh of the bird. “So the entire turkey is infused with that flavor,” she says. “It just wraps everything together nicely.”

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Simone says she likes to take her guests on a “little journey” with the wine pairings, starting lighter with that chardonnay and going bolder with the turkey. That red blend she loves is primarily cabernet, which goes well with the intense flavors of the main course.

“The whole night has that feeling,” Simone says. “You start the night with small talk, and turn up the intensity as it gets later. So it’s nice when the wine is in sync with the vibe of the party.”

More: The dos and don’ts of carving a turkey — 9 tips for the perfect bird

More: 22 Turkey recipes to suit any taste this Thanksgiving

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