Thanksgiving is all about the food.
We know that the turkey industry lives and dies with America’s exclusive holiday. But great beverages also have to be part of the big day. Wine, liquor and beer should be a huge part of the festivities.
Good libations can help make the day special and get you through the most trying family situations. A good breakfast is always part of the day. Breakfast is enjoyed while also preparing the house for the various visitors. Keep it simple — bacon, eggs, and of course a Bloody Mary.
All the beverages for the big day should be self-serve. You and your family are too busy too make complicated cocktails. A good Bloody Mary bar can consist of simply a bottle of vodka, Bloody Mary mix, a little tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, olives and maybe a little veggie touch like celery, or pickles.
Set the ingredients on the counter and let your guests help themselves. A good base mix is Mr. T’s bold and spicy. It is not too spicy, but has enough flavors to please most people. Absolut vodka is my usual base alcohol, but try a classic gin like Beefeater in your Bloody Mary for a unique taste and a little zing!
For when the guests start arriving, try a little champagne — it’s not just for New Year’s. It is light and easy to drink, and always brings a smile to people’s faces. Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to celebrate. No pressure, no gifts, just good people, good times and good football.
Prosecco is the perfect sparkling wine for fun. It is an Italian wine that is the perfect balance of crisp clean flavors, and a hint of fruit to make it palatable for all your guests. Astoria Prosecco is medium-priced and very good for the money.
Always have a few great beers around for your guests also. The best American tradition is watching Dallas or Detroit play a little football. I prefer a little lighter beer. You don’t want to fill your guests up too much — the food and decadent desserts can do that. Stick to crisp and clean American lagers or pale ales.
The dinner itself is the highlight. After all the hype and small talk leading into the dinner, wine becomes the showcase. When you sit down at your bountiful dinner, don’t over-complicate the wines. It is virtually impossible to find a wine that will satisfy all tastes and match perfectly with the various flavors and styles that are on the table. Have a white and a red wine handy. Try to find medium- to light-bodied wines.
Again, the wine should compliment the dinner, not overshadow it. Stay away from rich cabernet sauvignon, merlot or chardonnay. Go a little lighter, like beaujolais, pinot noir, chenin blanc or riesling. If you still have the prosecco lying around, sparkling wine is great with the meal also. Here are a few of my favorites:
— An Oregon pinot noir is delicate enough to go with all foods. It will satisfy the red wine snob and also be palatable to the wine novice. A-Z Pinot Noir is famous for its approachability and its reasonable price point.
— French beaujolais from Louis Jadot is also a great match. It is slightly fruity and will complement the entire dinner. From the French comes another late November tradition, beaujolais nouveau. It is a tradition that nouveau is released on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Nouveau wines celebrate the harvest in France. They are the first wines picked and pressed. They are simple, very fruity wines with virtually no aging. They are light, fluffy and fun! These are not serious wines and are meant to be drunk right away and fresh. It’s our good luck that it’s a perfect match with turkey.
— White wine is the true match for a turkey dinner. Again, stay away from rich, buttery, flabby chardonnay. Go with light fun wines like chenin blanc, riesling or Gewürztraminer! I love Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc, a perfect food wine that can carry you from appetizers all the way thru the main course.
After dinner comes dessert. Keeping with my earlier claim to make it easy for yourself, start the coffee pot early. We need the caffeine to fight off the slumber effect of the tryptophan from the turkey. Have a bottle or two of after-dinner liqueurs by the pot. People love to add a little Irish crème to their coffee. It will only make the pecan pie and other desserts taste all the better!
As Thanksgiving is the one true all-American holiday, we should celebrate with the typical American gusto. But while celebrating, we need to really reflect on the good life we are privileged to lead in this great country. Enjoy the finer things in life and always give thanks — cheers!