Drinks for Thought: The Practical Drinks for Thanksgiving

Practical Drinks for ThanksgivingExpenses during the holiday season can totally bust your budget, if you’ll not spend wisely. A savvy spender would think of the most practical ways to get the best without sacrificing the quality of the holiday experience that you and your family look forward to each year. A good nugget of wisdom is to know how to save money on the wine at the start of the season, which is Thanksgiving.

Given the stress that comes with all the preparations, your wine to uncork during the celebration can be the best reason why you may decide to get the best. But if the cost will bust your budget for the remaining feasts during the season, give its some thought.

The Secret

What can be the most practical drinks to have during Thanksgiving? Maryse Chevriere of Serious Eats shares some drinks for thought in the post How to Save Money and Drink Good Wine This Thanksgiving. She writes:

“The secret to Thanksgiving drinks is to focus on versatile bottles that feel festive and special but aren’t too pricey. This is a day, after all, when you’re going to want quantity in addition to quality. Do not, under any circumstances, try to pick a wine to pair with each individual dish. That’ll get you nowhere but frustrated. The key is to choose wines that will go with just about everything—your stuffing and your green bean casserole, your biscuits and your bird.”

The Advice:

How do you translate this secret into a strategy when you go out to buy your wine? Know the wine you are looking for.  Chevriere’s advice is:

“… You’re looking for wine that works seamlessly with all the different elements—salty, sweet, fatty, earthy, fruity, herbal, gamy… Medium-bodied wines are best … A feather-light Muscadet will get lost in the mix, while a big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon could overpower. Rounder, more lush and fruit-forward white wines will counterbalance the savory flavors of the meal, while bright, juicy reds with a little spice and earthy flavor can act as more of a complementary accent to the rich, roasted flavors on the plate.”

The Strategy

  • Where and when you shop matters.  Find the best deals in a wine store that has an ample inventory and with helpful wine pros as employees. They can be a minefield of wine information. They can tell you which wineries have affordable entry-level bottles in their inventory. These can be cheaper, but nevertheless of good quality coming from credible producers. It will also help to buy when the store’s not too busy, so they can wait on you with patience and help you with diligence. Don’t fail to tell them your budget.
  • Lean towards the lese grapes and wine regions. If you will prefer the best-known grapes from the popular regions, there is no doubt you’ll break your bank before the holiday is over. Ask your friendly salesperson to point you to the “…lesser-known grapes and regions.” What about Aligoté from Burgundy’s Côte Chalonnaise as a substitute to the pricey Chardonnay from Meursault or a Grenache/Syrah from southwestern Languedoc, rather than a costly Hermitage Syrah? While your vendors would love to sell you Champagnes and everything expensive, they will want to cater your need too.  This underscores the importance of informing them how much you can afford.
  • Check out other options. Are you aware that canned or boxed wines are cheaper than their bottled counterparts? These will not be cheaper; you can even but several kinds to cater to the different preferences of your family/relatives, friends and other guests sharing the bounty of your Thanksgiving table. With an elegant decanter or pitcher, it can easily blend into your elegant table.
  • Buy in case. If you think you would not mind making a favorite wine a mainstay during the holidays, (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year), buying a full case of 12 bottles is not a bad idea at all. These usually come with a discount 0f 20 percent or bigger.
  • Buy local or avoid expensive Champagnes. Who doesn’t love Champagnes, but if it will bust your budget, let it go this time. Go for some good, but cheaper sparkling wines. Why not try the Italian Prosecco, the Spanish Cava, the elegant Franciacorta or the vibrant Lambrusco. For really inexpensive choices, but local pét-nat, which are bottled “just before they finish fermenting.”  The fizz you are looking for is there because if the trapped CO2. Check out Michael Cruse’ produce from California – Valdigué if you love strawberry-rosé flavor or Bellwether in the Finger Lakes’ Riesling.

More Additions to Your Shopping Cart

If you still can’t find the right wine to complete your Thanksgiving, Maryse Chevriere has these suggestions:

  • Avinyó 2012 Cava Reserva Brut – This bubbly wine is a perfect substitute Champagne. It is based on Macabeo grape, so expect floral and toasted almond flavors. Like a Champagne, it has that characteristic sparkle. It’s like getting to play in an orchard filled with nectarines, pears, and grapefruit, located next to a garden of herbs and white flowers.
  • Château Tour Grise 2004 Saumur Brut Non Dosé – This is a vintage-dated, non-dosé sparkling version” that can also take the place of Champagne.  It has the lemony freshness and a potent fizz that makes it a perfect pair to complement the first course of pumpkin soup or creamy cauliflower or pumpkin soup all the way through to the sweet conclusion of pecan pie.
  • Val de Mer NV Crémant de Bourgogne Non Dosé – This is the sparkling drink to welcome your guests. This is super dry with a characteristic acidity that can very well go with pre-dinner finger foods like a shrimp cocktail and crostini with Gorgonzola-pistachio dip. It can stimulate the guests’ appetite as they arrive and enjoy the socials that precede dinner.
  • Salinia “Twenty Five Reasons” Rosé – This tart and tangy drink is a little pét-nat rosé that can be a perfect pair to most savory Thanksgiving dishes.  “Bottled unfined and unfiltered, this dry sparkler offers a lot of texture … and an abundance of pickled-berry flavors make it an excellent opposites-attract partner for all those meaty, savory items on the plate…”

Thanksgiving is just the start of a long holiday season. Make sure you’ll have enough bottles to last you until the New Year. To be practical about wines, take these “drinks for thought” tips for a fun Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.

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