The Key to Surviving Thanksgiving

the drunken cyclist | By Jeffrey M. Kralik, Ph.D. –

As almost all of you realize, Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and that presents a host of different emotions. For many (most?) it represents what it is “supposed” to be: a day of thanks punctuated by a fabulous meal.

For others, it is certainly a day that delivers angst, at best, and at worst, downright dread. Dread since Thanksgiving for many is a poorly thought-out holiday. It is unlike any other holiday since it is on a Thursday every year, which for everyone fortunate enough not to work in retail, it means it is an automatic four-day weekend. Every year.

Sure, depending on when they fall, other holidays can turn into four-day weekends, but Thanksgiving has it every single year. Now, if you are one of the really lucky few to actually enjoy spending time with your family, Thanksgiving might actually be seen as too short. But for an ever-growing segment of the population, Thanksgiving represents four days of anxiety, stress, even hell.

There are many reasons to abhor Thanksgiving: congested roads, price-gouging by airlines, exceedingly dry turkey, the Detroit Lions, I could go on, but I won’t. But for some wine geeks, it has always been wine.

Yes, you read that right, some wine nerds actually dislike Thanksgiving because of wine.

Objectively speaking, Thanksgiving should be the Super Bowl of sorts for wine geeks; there are so many flavors on the table that it requires several different wines – a wine pairing task that gets wine dorks all excited.

Ah, but if it were only that simple.

A “Normal” Pour

One of the, if not the, largest goals for the wine geek is to share a wine with someone who will appreciate the wine. They do not have to be a fellow wine geek; they do not even have to know the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.  But the geek hopes that they will at least recognize that the wine is good.

But for every relative that might appreciate his or her wine, the wine geek has two or three that are usually clueless when it comes to fermented grape juice.  And let’s face it: It’s usually a brother-in-law.

They all know that the wine geek is going to bring “something good” to Thanksgiving, and they apparently think, “Well, if it’s ‘good,’ I need to have a sheet-ton of it!”

No, they have no idea why it’s “good,” but they figure they better fill their glass with the stuff before it’s all gone.

The “Brother-in-Law” Pour

This precise scenario played out for me more than once with my family, each time when I had returned home with perfectly aged Burgundies, both red and white.  I watched in horror as a brother-in-law (who has since been divorced from my sister, thankfully), filled his wine glass as if he were pouring a beer, took one sip, then left the glass, never revisiting the wine again.

I sat there befuddled and calculated that there was about $83.29 of wine just sitting there, waiting to be poured down the drain. At that moment, I realized it was my fault that the tragedy had unfolded thusly. I was trying to impress people with beautiful wines, and they could not care any less. Thus, like most wine geeks out there, I realized that Thanksgiving is not about the wine. At all. So, get over it.

Don’t get me wrong, wine geeks are still expected to bring wine, but no matter what they bring, their relatives will simply assume it’s “good.”

My advice? Don’t be a moron: Bring some inexpensive wines since most of it will end up going down the drain. Still, it should be palatable since you are going to have to drink it, too. The hiding the good bottle for yourself while serving up plonk to the rest does not work – trust me.

A few inexpensive, but good, wine suggestions for turkey day:


Gruet Brut and Brut Rosé ($15): Both are great.  Grab the Rosé if you can find it since pink is more festive.


Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio ($8): Light and crisp, always a fav.

Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay ($15): Creamy and delicious, short of oaky and buttery.


Cecchi Chianti Classico ($15): Always stellar and underpriced.

Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau: A good, fruity, fun wine that is meant to be consumed at Thanksgiving!