Ah, shopping on the day before Thanksgiving. The crowd makes it a stressful experience even if you know what you want - add having to make a wine choice while you're there and the whole thing can be come miserable.
There's an easy solution, however, (to the wine problem, not the parking) and it's bubbles. "Champagne" may be synonymous with "expensive", but luckily it's far from being the only option. There are a number of widely available, affordable, and delicious bottles of sparkling wine.
Which is great, because dry sparkling wine is perfect for making everyone feel festive and for loosening up guests (drinks with bubbles enter your bloodstream quickly). They can be drunk while cooking, passed as a welcoming glass (sparkling wine is less filling and has less alcohol than a cocktail) or, because they are so versatile, poured throughout the meal.
Gruet - Made in New Mexico by French transplants, Gruet makes excellent bubble for the price (about $14 a bottle). Made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, using the Methode Champenoise (the same technique used to make Champagne), the wines have small bubbles and complex flavor. A delicious rosé is also available.
Lucien Albrect Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rosé - You've probably seen this beautiful bottle of peachy bubbles, as it's quite a popular sparkling pink. Crémants are generally a good, affordable option if Champagne is out of your reach (they're made by the same method, just not in the designated Champagne region), but this rosé is especially lovely. Tart and creamy, and more than able to stand up to turkey, it's a great way to spend $20. Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut - The most affordable yet, this bottle from Columbia Valley is about $12 and worth every penny. Again, made by Methode Champenoise, from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the wine is straight-forward, crisp and a bit toasty. Saracco Moscato d'Asti - In case you do decide to stick with bubble throughout dinner, here's the way to end. Low in alcohol and lightly sparkling, the Italian Moscato d'Asti is the perfect way to end a meal. A bit sweet, floral, laden with peaches and apricot, this is a wine to be drunk young and often (it's $16 a bottle). Many brands of Moscato d'Asti are available, most are affordable and tasty. None of these available in your store? Look through what's available for labels with the words Methode Champenoise or traditional method on them. Crémants are generally a good way to go as are Blanquettes, and some Cava. Remember that "Brut" means dry, "Sec" means extra dry, "Demi-Sec" is half dry, and "Doux" is sweet. And never forget that the beauty of having a large group at dinner means more wine can be bought and tasted!
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