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Thanksgiving Drinking

November 21, 2017

Family. We love them. Which isn’t to say family gatherings aren’t easier with a little lubrication.

Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe people really don’t care about which wine to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe the meal doesn’t matter either. Perhaps it’s all just an elaborate ruse so that one can day drink around family without additional judgement.

Because there is always judgement.

The Thanksgiving feast is only a couple of days away, and just today I learned there are some people out there who do not like stuffing. The only conclusion I can draw from that statement is that these people have lived their entire lives without tasting good stuffing, and it feels like a tragedy. But with two days until the holiday, there is no way to change anybody’s mind at this point.

What I might be able to do is help provide a bit of guidance about what to pick up at the local beer, wine, or spirits shop. And maybe in doing so, I’ll even clarify my plans a bit.

Perhaps, the single biggest consideration is to know your audience.

I wasn’t going to bring wine to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. This year, I was going to leave that entirely up to my uncle… let’s call him Maximus. And he did something clever by texting both me and my cousin about what kind of wine we wanted for the holiday. Cousin… let’s call him Scaaaaat asked for something from Sicily. And I asked for the things I always ask for in wine, “unfiltered, food friendly, old-world style wines from small producers”.

Well, on Sunday thanks to my Yelp job, I attended a totally unsnobby wine tasting at Lucas Confectionery. And as it turns out, Heather poured a wine that is pretty much the love child of what Scaaaaat and I were hoping Maximus would find.

It’s an orange wine from Sicily, so I bought two bottles. Here are some details.

The white grape skin contact with the fermenting juice, besides providing an unusual orange hue, gives this wine made from white grapes a bit more structure and oompf to hold up to some of the heavier foods on the Thanksgiving table. It is not nearly as heavy as a Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon, and I’d argue more flexible than Pinot Noir. I can’t wait for my family to taste this. And hopefully Maximus won’t mind my intrusion into his wine program for the afternoon.

I have to tell you though, it was hard to not run over to Heather’s wine store and pick up more and more bottles of what they have in for Thanksgiving. It’s so hard to find a good Beaujolais Nouveau without all the added junk, but she’s got one that is earthy while still being light enough to not drown out creamed pearl onions.

Our family Thanksgiving meal is on Saturday. Thursday we are spending the day with close friends. And maybe I’ll pull a bottle of wine to bring down to Raf. But I also want to score some interesting beers. Beer, like Champagne, goes with just about everything. The secret is the bubbles.

While IPAs in varying degrees of strength and turbidity may be super popular these days, there is a lot of sweetness and bitterness in those beers which can overwhelm traditional Thanksgiving dishes. I’m going to keep my eye out for some saisons and maybe some lighter sours. But I also think some of the richer, grainier lagers would go great with the meal.

I’m partial to the Peekskill Uncommon Lager. It’s been a long time since I’ve had one, but the memory has stayed with me. My hope is that the next time I find it, I enjoy it just as much as I have in the past.

You know, sometimes you may need a little something stronger than wine or beer. One step up is fortified wines like sherry. A nice dry fino sherry is absolutely fantastic before a meal. Especially if you are having hard cheeses and nuts. But there are also sweeter styles if that’s your thing.

But there’s nothing wrong with spirits either. Harvest Spirits is all about the flavors of fall, after all, its product line is built on the backs of apples. but I’m also a fan of the warming powers of rum and whiskey. Albany Distilling Co and Yankee Distillers make great stuff. Just recently, I tried the 100% wheat whiskey from Upstate Distilling Company, and that was really lovely. It’s much lighter than corn based whiskey, but still will taste familiar to whiskey drinkers as the spirit is aged in used rye barrels.

Part of me is thinking I should have picked up a bottle of that when I had the chance. The other part of me is thinking that my liquor cabinet is full, and Maximus generally has a whiskey out for our family celebration.

Some families have more booze fueled gatherings than we do, and that’s cool. But whatever you do, be safe out there. Remember to stop and be thankful for what we’ve got. And if it takes a drink or two to get you there, that’s fine too.

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