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Dipsology - Beyond the Basics: A Holiday Wine and More Thanksgiving Cocktails

With Americans essentially telling Dr. Fauci to go chase himself and showing a willingness to enjoy a full family Thanksgiving, it is an opportune moment to lend some advice for potables to go along with this week’s feast-ivities. There are joyous options whether you are entertaining, or you are invited over and do not want to arrive empty-handed. (It is always proper form to arrive with either a gift in tow or at least bring your own libations, so as not to drain your host of their stocks.)

One choice I will recommend might cause hesitation at first, but do not scoff outright. Gifting a bottle of wine is common practice but there is a particular selection that works great for this holiday. I am not a wine enthusiast by any stretch but I have typically worked to obtain a bottle this time of year when the release of Beaujolais Nouveau hits the market. This is a decidedly unpretentious pick and one generally enjoyed by many.

It has been a refreshing thing to watch over the last generation as wine has become far less exclusionary and more widely accepted as a drinking option absent the high drama of presentations, the high-minded attitude, and the high prices. Low-cost labels have become normalized. Box wines are no longer stigmatized and have become an acceptable after-work option for many ladies, while the flavored blends with fruits, like Arbor Mist, are a step above the Boone’s Farm candy wines at convenience stores.

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In this manner, the Beaujolais Noveau is great for what it is not. You do not need to know about regions, vintages, or seek out specialty wine shops — because this is a bottle made to be enjoyed as early as possible. The old adage of wine needing to age to become enjoyable does not apply, as the nouveau is specifically made as a fresh varietal. From the Beaujolais region of France, these are made from Gamay grapes, which possess lower tannin levels and deliver a bold, slightly sweet flavor.

The difference is that these are a fresh crop, and bottled quickly. The 2021 labels were from grapes harvested this September. Beaujolais Nouveau wines are always made available the third Thursday in November, and it is a regional event in France, with the delivery trucks loaded and primed to go out at exactly 12:01 am. The result is a very unpretentious wine that you do not need a sommelier in order to enjoy. Fragrant, very fruity but still hearty enough to be enjoyed as a quality glassful, these selections are also reasonably priced. You should find this year’s labels for around $ 15-20.

Remy de la Mauviniere

That is, if you can find them. Not as much a victim of the shipping crisis (though impacted somewhat) nor the pandemic, this is mostly due to a challenging growing season. April brought frost to certain areas, and then harsh storms in summer combined to cause this year’s crop yields to come in about 25% lower than normal. As such, the exports have been lower, so there could be a little bit of a challenge finding bottles.

Most grocers with wine aisles have carried this selection, but if they are depleted, save some strife and call around first. It is worth the hunt, as these fun wines both pair well with turkey dinners but they are also casual enough in nature to blend perfectly into what the holiday is about — festive times with your gathering.

 

Day Of The Bird Cocktails

Hearty meals, a fall atmosphere, and rich desserts filled with spices are a perfect environment to have some more bold cocktail selections, and whiskey and bourbons are just perfect for these gatherings. Better still, you can have a running theme if you choose to go with Wild Turkey.

Pairing drinks with some of the ingredients commonly seen with meals this time of year just makes sense, so you have some great options for your guests that you can match with your menu.

 

KENTUCKY MULE

You already have the copper vessels, so go ahead and look for this option for the Moscow mule. It is a spicy kick to your holiday.

  • 1 Shot bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce juice from lime
  • 4 oz. Ginger Beer

In a mule cup fill halfway with crushed ice, add ingredients and stir, garnish with mint sprig. OPTION: Try with a freshly crushed blackberry if available

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2016, file photo, Jen Shaul, a bartender at Buck's Saloon in Melba, Idaho, pours whiskey at the bar. On Wednesday, March 2, 2016, payroll processor ADP reports ho

MAPLE MANHATTAN

This is a great holiday variation on the classic. Experimentation is helpful here.

  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 3 Dashes Bitters
  • 1/2 tsp. Maple Syrup

Pour ingredients over ice, garnish with orange peel. OPTION: Knob Creek maple bourbon could replace the syrup — or add to the flavor, to taste.

 

APPLE WHISKEY SMASH

Perfect for pre-dinner cocktails during the first football game or as an after-dinner dessert drink. Adjusted alcohol amounts — higher, or lower — do not usually have a negative impact.

  • 1 Shot bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 4 oz. Apple Cider

Combine ingredients in a shaker, then when chilled strain over ice. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Eric Risberg

HOT TODDY

If you are in a colder climate come Thursday these are going to be welcomed by your new arrivals. Boil a kettle and then drink in the smiles as you hand these out.

  • 1 shot Bourbon
  • 2 tsp. Honey
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Juice
  • Dash Nutmeg
  • Fill with hot water

Serve steaming with a fresh cut cinnamon stick

 

SPICED SNOWBALL

This is an unusual but delicious dessert drink that will get you attention.

  • 1 shot Ole Smokey Caramel whiskey
  • 1/2 shot Rumchata
  • 2 oz. whipping cream
  • Ginger Beer

In a shaker with ice, combine the first three ingredients, shaking vigorously. Pour into a Collins glass. Slowly pour ginger beer into the center to form a foam head above the rim of the glass.