That doesn't mean that wine reviews are worthless nor am I attacking other bloggers--why else would I have been writing this for nearly four years? But my most frustrating experience as a novice wine drinker was never being able to find the exciting, interesting bottles I'd read about. After trying a few thousand wines I'm confident enough to pick out something on my own, but it's a week before the big day and you don't have time for all that.
So instead of telling you to run out and purchase a 2007 Paso a Paso Verdejo (although it would be a really great Thanksgiving wine), here's my simplified advice:
- Don't spend a lot of money per bottle. Try the $10-15 range. Why? As you hold that bottle of wine in your hand, imagine having it swiped to punch up the gravy, mixed with Sprite and consumed by a tipsy great aunt, or knocked over by a rambunctious child.
- Think PIGS: Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain. There are tons of great bargain Italian and Spanish wines on the market right now, and they're very food friendly. Greek and Portuguese wines are going to be a little harder to find but you'll get a lot of bang for your buck, just stay away from the pine sap-infused Retsina. Stick to fruity whites and dry rosés if possible, and ask for help at the wine shop. You'll get a great tasting wine and you'll get a chance to broaden the palates of your friends and family. Don't be afraid to show off a little. Say you collected them all on a Mediterranean cruise.
- If you're feeling adventurous, bring a sparkling wine. But remember the first rule: skip the vintage Champagne and go for a Prosecco, a Cava, a Vinho Verde, or even a sparkling Shiraz from Australia. Again, these are all generic styles of wines, not specific producers. Chill it, pop it, enjoy it. A crisp sparkler is also a great way to offset greasy, salty casseroles.
- Bring your own corkscrew. Good luck trying to buy one at the last minute if Grandma doesn't have one. If you don't have a waiter's corkscrew, get one now. They're cheap and easily fit in the pocket, though you might want to practice at home before you try to use one in public for the first time.
- Most importantly, have fun. There's no reason to stress out over your wine choices, and after the third bottle is open everyone is going to be in a good mood anyway.