Some guests breeze into Thanksgiving dinner bearing perfectly executed pies. Others — those who, say, might require copious alcohol for the holiday — push through the door with bottles clinking.
I’m in the latter camp. Just as hosts think about food courses, I think in terms of alcohol courses. The drive home notwithstanding, Turkey Day is a chance to foist new bottles on unsuspecting relatives, with the added challenge of giving them something they’ll actually drink (not necessarily wild-yeast cider, as I found out last year).
Here are a few suggestions:
The usual: Sparkling wine or lager
Change it up: Sparkling hard cider
To conjure the vibe of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, break out some hard cider. Ciders love on all types of food, especially cheeses, and are lower in alcohol than wine. For $18, Woodside Cider in Aquebogue will fill growlers with one of its rustic hard ciders; the traditional dry is akin to an apple-y Champagne, and the pineapple cider is zesty and astringent. Wölffer Estate’s No. 139 Dry Rose Cider is a lighter, easy-drinker, and more widely available (about $16 for a four-pack).
The usual: Red blends, merlot, whatever people bring. Sometimes the recently released Beaujolais Nouveau makes an appearance.
Change it up: Gamay-based Beaujalois Nouveau is popular because it’s fresh, cheap and versatile.
For an LI-produced replacement, grab the 2017 Taste Nouveau from Bedell Cellars ($18), a whole-cluster-fermented merlot that’s zippy, super-light and tinged with cranberry flavors; try it slightly chilled. Jamesport Vineyards’ newly released 2015 Estate Syrah ($25) will sate those who like weightier reds. As for whites, Macari Vineyard’s 2016 sauvignon blanc “Life Force” ($28) has enough heft beneath its tropical briskness to match birds, yams and probably most things you might throw at it.
The usual: Coffee, cognac
Change it up: Ice cider or wine
Ice cider, or dessert cider made with apples, is my go-to — this year, it’s Newhall Farm Ice Cider from Vermont (about $33). But any of the Block E dessert wine series from Macari Vineyards, a malty beer such as the Tripel from St. James Brewery, or even some Old Whaler’s Sag Harbor Rum ($35) in a snifter can find their rightful place on the dessert table. And for the pumpkin spice devotee — there’s always at least one — LIV Spirits makes a Sorbetta Pumpkin Pie Liqueur ($22) found at the distillery and elsewhere.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect price for Bedell Cellars' Taste Nouveau.