It's game time, but you had a busy week, and not everything got done in advance. Don't panic. Even if your designated Thanksgiving wine-buyer flaked out at the last minute, it's going to be fine. Even if you don't have a single bottle on hand, you're in luck—just take this list to the local liquor store or wine shop, and ask a friendly salesperson to help you find bottles like the ones we've taste-tested for you below.
Start with Bubbly...
A festive meal always feels more celebratory with a flute of bubbly in hand. Gracious guests who bring Champagne win extra points—here are a few of our favorite nonvintage options. If you have a big crowd, though, consider non-Champagne options including cava and cremant. A few recent amazing-value favorites include Domaine J. Laurens Cremant de Limoux Brut, Kogl Albus Clasique from Slovenia, and Domaine Labet Cremant du Jura. Sparkling wine is great for seafood or cheese plate appetizers, though a rich bubbly will be delicious with the entire Thanksgiving meal.
Remember to take it slow when you open a bottle of sparkling wine. Most sparkling wines have a metal wire over the cork to hold it secure against the pressure in the bottle—this is called the cage. Start by untwisting the bottom part of the wine cage, but do not remove it completely. Put one hand over the top of the cork (and cage) and press down firmly while you slowly turn the bottle with your other hand. The cork will loosen and the pressure from the carbonation will begin to push it out. Let the cork out slowly so that the pressure releases with a sigh. And don't point the bottle at anyone at any time during this procedure, unless you really don't like 'em.
...Or a Cocktail
If your Thanksgiving crowd is open to exploring, offer to whet their appetites with one of these autumnal cocktails. 14 ideas not enough for you? Try the perfectly autumnal Concord Crush (pictured above) or use a little amaro in Jackson Cannon's delicious-and-simple Adriatique.
Stick with one or two signature drinks, and consider making a big batch in advance if you're serving a crowd. Here's a helpful guide to batching drinks, from our own Michael Dietsch.
The Best Wines for Thanksgiving
We've tasted at least a hundred bottles over the past month in order to recommend winners to you, and we're confident that the wines we've picked will rock your Thanksgiving table. We highly recommend that you pick up some Cru Beaujolais, which you can read all about here—it's simply the best Thanksgiving value red wine that we can imagine. But we also have recommendations for Pinot Noir here, Zinfandel here, and Mourvedre (which we especially love with stuffing.) Looking to mix it up a little? Try rosé this Thanksgiving. Stocking up on white wine for Turkey Day is easy now that you have our handy-dandy guide. If you're on a budget, don't miss these affordable-but-delicious bottles. And don't forget dessert!
We also sought out a little expert advice this year: here are some tips from the pros, including Michael Madrigale of Bar Boulud in NYC and Jessica Pinzon of Ad Hoc in Yountville, California. We also invited a crew of wine and beer pros over to SE HQ West for a Thanksgiving pairing challenge—check out the winning bottles here.
Beer and Cider
We love the pairing of caramel-tinged malt with Thanksgiving's crispy bits: stuffing, turkey skin, fried shallots on top of a green bean casserole. If you're looking for recommendations for beers to pair with savory foods, start here and here. But the beer doesn't have to stop when it's time for dessert: here are a few of our top picks for pairing beer and pie.
Make Sure to Have Non-Alcoholic Options!
Sparkling water or lemonade with cranberry juice, sparkling cider (or these interesting sparkling juices)—you should be sure you're stocked up on booze-free drinks. If you've got a little extra time, mix up some cranberry orange punch or fizzy pear-ginger punch.
Are you all set for Thanksgiving? Tell us what you'll be sipping!