We may have food down cold, but wine? This is where we'll conquer it. Join us; we don't want to drink alone.
Today: Wine does double duty as a hostess gift -- here are the bottles to pick up this season.
For me, Thanksgiving is a holiday of pairs. Food and friends. Talking and eating. Prep and leftovers. Conversation and family. Setting the table and clearing the table. If I can find a trick or technique that helps me on both sides of the pair, I hang onto it like skin on turkey.
A casserole dish that can go from oven to table to fridge? I’m sold. A tidbit of news to talk over with my Mom as she cooks and with my sister as she does the dishes? That’s a winner. And a side dish that cooks at the same oven temperature as the turkey? It’s a keeper.
Why not expect the same double-duty from your wine? Here are three suggestions for wines to give as hostess gifts that serve their purpose (wine is for drinking, after all!) and then some.
Read more: Here's how to make sense of the wine store.
Protea: Wine Bottle as Usable Art
Let’s say your host has a special affinity for graphics, design, or entertaining. Look for Protea wines from South Africa -- either the white Chenin Blanc or the red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah are Thanksgiving food-friendly. But it’s what’s outside the bottle that will catch the eye first. Developed by former fashion designer Mark Eisen, the “label” is actually a pretty, organic, screen application that fuses nontoxic ink directly onto (and around) the bottle. It’s a conversation-starter right when you pull it from the bag and, better yet, your hostess will be able to use it again to hold water or flowers or whatever she can imagine.
Loveblock Pinot Gris: Extreme Winemaking to Talk About
Imagine growing grapes where the wind from the Antarctic is so strong and cold that you can feel the winemaking gods placing their bets against you. And imagine strategizing your grape crop around the onset of the Bronze Beetles, who land in your vineyards once every eleven years and eat everything in their path. Imagine those things, and you’ve got a pretty good sense of what the people behind Loveblock wines in New Zealand are up against. They make a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Gris, and a Pinot Noir; the Pinot Gris is my favorite for Thanksgiving. The takeaway? Lively conversation -- because that’s what Antarctic winds and Bronze Beetles bring to the table -- and the realization that fun, interesting, and very good wines don’t have to be expensive.
Hunger on Our Minds: Beaulieu Vineyards’ Give and Give Back Program
Bringing Beaulieu Vineyards’ 2010 Carneros Chardonnay to the Thanksgiving table is a happy donation in and of itself. But with their Give and Give Back Program, that donation takes on a whole new dimension. They've partnered with a non-profit called AmpleHarvest.org, which enables home gardeners to easily donate their excess harvest to some 6400+ food pantries across the country. Invite everyone at the table to text the word Give to 79008, and Beaulieu Vineyards will donate $1 to AmpleHarvest.org. Not only will you have started the conversation, you’ll have inspired it.
What wines do you love to bring with you as hostess gifts? Tell us in the comments!
Photos by James Ransom