Friday, November 22, 2013

5 Things About Thanksgiving Wines I Ignore Every Year

Want some terrific advice on what wines to drink this Thanksgiving?  Read Eric Asimov's piece in last week's New York Times.  If this seems like passing the buck, well, it is.  And why not?  His is practical, seasoned advice, much of which echoes my own philosophy when it comes to holiday wine choices.  It's a short, pleasant read that doesn't shy away from detailing how even seemingly sensible and experienced journalists don't agree on a go-to formula for occasions like this.

If you've heeded my suggestion, but find yourself compelled to read more, below is a list of directives I feel more strongly about with every passing year.  But, like most consultants, that doesn't stop me from summarily ignoring my own advice - every passing year.

5 Things I Wish I Remembered On Thanksgiving, But Can't Seem To Keep From Ignoring:
  1. Obsession is for the chemically imbalanced.  The challenge of the Thanksgiving holiday is to make it through this family-saturated encounter without resorting to fisticuffs, right?  So, your focus should be on making the most of the opportunity you have to enjoy the people around you, not freaking out over what wine pairs best with cranberry jelly.  That said, wine bottles make handy weapons, regardless of variety, vintage, or price.  Having a full one nearby at all times might not be such a bad idea.
  2. 'Shock and awe' is a military doctrine.  Unless you want your Thanksgiving guests to feel like Norman Schwarzkopf is carving the bird, tone down the tour de force on bottle selection.  A couple of choices are fun.  More is confusing.  And even more is overwhelming.  Like Eric suggests: two whites, two reds.
  3. Jesus had it right. The practice of serving good wine earlier in the evening and later switching to cheaper stuff has survived since biblical times.  But just because that's the way it's always been done doesn't make it right.  Even if they're in the bag, your guests will be able to tell if you switch from Tasty Estate to Chateau Shitaux.  WWJD?
  4. Reel it in, Senator.  Merchandisers get better every year at distancing us from the idea of living within our means.  If you allow yourself to get lulled into a congressional approach to wine shopping, you'll wake up next week, look at your receipts, and wonder who the hell put you so far in debt.  Hangovers do come in a variety of flavors - avoid this one.
  5. USA! USA! USA!  Relegating gratitude to one day a year is a uniquely American tradition.  Celebrating it with French wine (or Spanish or Italian or whatever) just feels unpatriotic.  You'll be better fortified for Black Friday after an evening of strong, freedom-loving American wine. 
Next up: empirical evidence preview.  Or what I'm planning on serving at Thanksgiving dinner.

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