If your family's anything like ours, then it's not so much the turkey, stuffing and cranberry you're looking forward to inhaling tomorrow -- it's the booze.
There's a reason why most of us make sure we only commit to spending several hours in the company of these people two or three times a year. It's not that we don't love our relatives -- we do. But now that we're all grown up, what used to be explained away as Uncle Charles's "quirks" and cousin Tracy's um...colorful sense of humor now seem to work our nerves mercilessly.
Thank goodness there's a wine for that.
And not just any old wine, either. While it's certainly always easy (and perfectly acceptable) to resort to the standard varieties that usually end up on the buffet (ahem! Chardonnay and pinot noir) it really takes very little effort to mix it up just the tiniest bit. You'll find yourself pleasantly diverted away from the typical family shenanigans as you engage in easy banter about the near-endless merits of these unique -- but oh-so-perfect-for-Turkey-Day -- wines with everyone you'd otherwise never talk to. Make sure at least one thing goes well for you this Thanksgiving by scoring any of these not-so-standard bottles (try not to guzzle the whole thing within the first half-hour).
If you normally drink cava or prosecco: Pop the cork on a bottle of René Muré Crémant d'Alsace Brut NV ($21) instead. Why? Because you'll be getting Champagne-quality bubbles (cremant-designated wines must follow the same strict méthode champenoise guidelines) for a fraction of the price. This particularly lush example features a stellar blend of pinot blanc, pinot auxerrois, riesling, pinot gris and pinot noir that will have you hooked from the first sip. All sorts of classic, citrus and apple-y aromas positively burst forth, but it's the sex bomb of a voluptuous mouthfeel that will have you relaxed and ready to endure hours of (football, mindless small talk, whatever) that may greet you on Thursday.
If you normally drink chardonnay: Full-bodied white wine lovers, meet your new crush, Friulano. Specifically, get ready to fall madly in love with the I Clivi Friulano Colli Orientali del Friuli 2009 ($15), a wine captivated us so intensely at this year's Food & Wine Classic in Aspen that we vowed to introduce it to all of our wine-loving guests on Thanksgiving. With succulent aromas of papaya and mango to start, followed by ripe pear and tangy-sweet citrus (imagine a lemon version of Noosa yoghurt), not only will you become obsessed with this wine, everyone else who tastes it will too. Amped up acidity typical of a northern Italian white ensures it will get along fabulously with even the trickiest items around the table.
If you normally drink pinot noir: Well, you'd be joining two-thirds of the wine drinking American public in making that choice tomorrow. And a fine choice it would be, if only it weren't so...predictable. With everyone and their adopted stepsister bingeing on boozy pinots like any character from Sideways, isn't it high time you through something new into the mix? We'd like to suggest the Heinrich Red Austrian Blend 2010 ($17), an absolutely charming blend of mostly hand-harvested zweigelt and the remainder blaufränkish. The fun you will have teaching everyone how to pronounce these grape names will be exceeded only by their enjoyment of the wine itself -- this is a soothingly smooth, medium-bodied red that's chock-full of juicy cherry and plum jam flavors. No guarantees, but your dad may just decide you really are his favorite child after all, once he's had a few glasses of this winner.
If you normally pour sparkling shiraz: Okay, we'll admit this last one's a bit of a ringer, because hardly anyone -- including us -- serves sparkling shiraz (although it actually IS a stellar wine to drink with Thanksgiving dinner. But we digress.) But let's pretend for a second that you are on a mission to bring that singular bottle of wine that would get everyone to stop yammering on about the election results, climate change or whatever other set of gripe-oriented baggage they brought to the party. This would be that wine. Our fixation with Lambrusco wines is serious -- and we're fairly certain yours will be, too, once you've torn into a glass or three of the Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbrara "Vecchio Modena" 2009 ($14), which will never, ever be confused with your parents' dusty bottle of Riunite. First of all, this wine is bone-dry; there's nary a trace of residual sugar to be found here. Second, it's incredibly refreshing, which means you'll never have to fight off the urge to wipe your tongue with your napkin to remove cloying traces of alcohol and oak left behind by the near-omnipresent bottles of California zinfandel and merlot that usually get all the love on Turkey Day. Even better? All the love you'll be showered with for bringing such killer wine to share.
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