Can it really be that we are once again facing the headache-inducing, stress-causing, sweat-provoking situation of choosing wines for the Thanksgiving feast? Can it be that time of year already? Seems like we just went through this.
If those are your comments and questions, that’s actually pretty funny because at no other time of year do you have the freedom to make so many choices, and none of them are wrong. While likely you can’t please everyone, you are sure to please a high percentage of whomever you are with. At Thanksgiving, there are no wrong answers when it comes to the combination of personalities, wine likes/dislikes, food pairings and time of day. I’ll take that situation and those odds every time.
Thanksgiving is stressful enough, what with your family, all your friends, choosing the menu, being certain everyone is on time and that the dinner comes together at nearly the same time for each dish, then prying folks away from the TV, video games or the internet. It’s really no wonder many groups and families are opting to head to a restaurant, settle in, let someone else do the cooking and cleaning up, before heading home for the traditional late afternoon nap and/or the electronic diversions.
As for beverages, just do it. Make a few selections, purchase what you like and move on with your life. Phew! Finally something that Aunt Esther can’t rag on you about all afternoon and into the coming year.
It’s always a great way to open the family gathering. Just about everyone will take some, toast to being together, and many will move away back to beer or bourbon. So you will end up with a good supply for your own purposes. Don’t have to go the Champagne route, although it does make a nice statement about you; however, you can stick with American Sparkling Wine from Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Roederer, or Schramsberg. Buy Brut. If someone wants it sweeter, there are always sugar packets.
By French law, and why not abide by the dictums of a great country, this wine, the first release of the current year, cannot be sold before the third Thursday in November. The French did not create this law in appreciation of our Thanksgiving feast and how well this wine matches with a lot of the dishes on the table, but it’s here and, what the heck, we’ll celebrate. Chock full of fruit, bit of a weak acid structure, nothing lingers on the palate so all the usual tests of a great wine are not met. But it’s celebratory, not expensive, and everyone will have low expectation, which will be exceeded. And some of your family will return to beer or bourbon anyway. More for you.
No need to go deeper into your credit limit with many white wines that are not considered mainstream. Albariño from Spain, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, Sauvignon Blanc from Chile (or anyone of a dozen other places), Pinot Grigio from Italy, Riesling from Washington State or New York State, or even Viognier from California, all have low prices and low alcohol limits. They are refreshing, tasty and fun to discover. Of course, some of your relatives and friends will return to drinking beer or bourbon. (Note the developing pattern here.)
Different Shades of Reds
Sure, you can take the usual route and buy fruit-bomb, alcohol-laden, expensive cabernet sauvignon, or you can tuck a few bucks back into your pocket with these enjoyable, often yummy, lighter red wines. Grenache and Syrah from Washington State, Malbec from California or Argentina, Carmenere from Chile, Cabernet Franc from the East Coast, and the aforementioned Beaujolais Nouveau all bring different flavors and textures to the table, and cause for discussion from all who venture in this direction.
I am a huge fan of finishing a big meal with Port. And pretty much all Port, especially those authentic sippers from Portugal, is good stuff. We have one from around here, the Port of New Orleans, that is surprisingly fine. Give it a try. Or you can head off into the direction of Cognac (not inexpensive), heavy Zinfandel (assuring a fine nap), or return to sparkling wines, but this time look to rosé. The pink stuff is not sissy or girly, but rather full-bodied and tasty. Don’t let the color influence you. You are a better person than judging only by what you see.
In other words, when it comes to beverages for "The Feast," go in a lot of different directions, all at one time. Fool your friends and your family with the variety and the way the beverages all tuck into the mood and the theme. Show them what a cosmopolitan kind of person you are; a sophisticated citizen of the world.
Just don’t show them the cost of your contribution. They may also want you to chip in for the turkey.