The Bottom Shelves of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, truth be told, is the best holiday. You don’t have to worry about giving gifts, there is usually a pretty good meal involved, and the amount of time you have to spend with your family is clearly defined.

There are a few aspects of Thanksgiving that are completely wrong, though. Some gross violations that I feel the need to address since, well, I am going “bottom shelf” this year.

The first is without a doubt the worst side ever served at any Thanksgiving, ever: sweet potatoes/yams (by the way, what the h-e-double hockey sticks is the difference?). Now I know some of you out there are ready to jump to the defense of the yam, but I am not talking about the orange spud per se but rather the way that it is served for Thanksgiving.

With marshmallows.

Are you kidding? The marshmallow might be the single dumbest food on the planet. When is the last time anyone said: “You know what? I could really go for a few marshmallows right about now!”

If you limit the question to people who are above the age of four, the answer is easy: never.

Yet there they are, in their mini-conical shape, on top of an oddly colored food, slathered with either brown sugar or maple syrup. Yeesh.

This comes from “” They should lose the rights to their url for implying that this dish is “serious.”

In my mind marshmallows exist for only one purpose: to be heated, almost to the point of burning, paired with a bit of chocolate bar, and squeezed between two graham crackers, preferably near a campfire. And if you ever eat more than one such concoction, you are either four years old (or under) or in serious need of counseling.

[By the way, my mother-in-law loves sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving, and her rendition is actually quite good, despite the marshmallows.]

The second Thanksgiving tradition that needs to go away is the Detroit Lions. Not just their traditional Thanksgiving Day game, but the entire franchise. The Lions have been around forever, and they were apparently good at some point, but since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 (that’s nearly 50 years for the math-averse), the Lions have appeared in exactly one NFC Championship game.

That was in 1991.

And they lost 41-10.

Growing up in Detroit, it seemed as though there were two Thanksgiving constants: dry turkey and the Lions losing. I was surprised to see, when doing a little research for this article, that the Lions are close to .500 on Thanksgiving (they are 24-25 since 1970), but it seemed like they always lost.

The third Thanksgiving “tradition” that needs to die? I think I can speak for just about anyone who has moved away from “home” that there is a rather deep-rooted double standard when it comes to Thanksgiving. As the one that both moved away and was the last to get married and have children, I was always expected to come home for Thanksgiving.

And I understood that I guess. I either lived in an apartment, had roommates, or both during those days, so for me hosting a Thanksgiving made no sense. But once married, with children, and what could be genuinely declared “a life” we were still expected to trek across the country, back to Detroit for Thanksgiving (and forced to watch the hapless Lions).

And for years we did just that.

When we offered to have all or some of the family visit us for Thanksgiving, however? We were met with a cacophony of cop-outs: “But we always have Thanksgiving here.” “What would we do with the dog?” And the best two: “But traveling during Thanksgiving is such a pain.” “It is just too expensive to fly during Thanksgiving.”

Funny, those last two were never a consideration when we were doing the travel.

Regardless of where you will be tomorrow, there will likely be others who expect you to bring some “killer” wines for the meal.

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 days ago, I went to my local grocery store and surfed the bottom two shelves in search of Thanksgiving wines under $15. Here are a rosé and a few reds (that I actually paid for myself) that I would be happy to see on any Thanksgiving table. Yesterday, I covered a sparkler and a couple of whites.

2019 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé: Retail $10. 100% Gamay. This is only the second vintage that Nouveau rosé has been able to be produced and my immediate question is: What took so long?!? Fruity with oodles of bubblegum on the nose. The palate is fruity and delicious. This is the first wine made by Georges’ grandson, Aurélian, and if this is any indication, he has a bright future in the wine business. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

All of the Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau wines are tasty, but I think my fave is the rosé.

2016 Pedroncelli Zinfandel Mother Clone Dry Creek Valley: Retail $19. Sure, this is slightly over my threshold, but I have seen it all over the place at or below fifteen bucks. And even at $20, it is one of the best Zins out there. In 1980, the Pedroncelli’s took cuttings from the original ranch purchased by John Pedroncelli, Sr. in 1927, which had been first planted to Zinfandel in 1904, and planted them on their estate property, resulting in “The Mother Clone Vineyard.” Dark in the glass with luscious blackberry fruit and hints of clove and black pepper. On the palate? Wow: that rich fruit, vanilla, and spice. Big without being boisterous, fruity without being over-the-top, zesty without being overbearing. Wow, this is good. And just short of a Whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.

Mother Clone = Mother Lode of Zin goodness.

2016 Cecchi Chianti Classico, Italy: Retail $16. 100% Sangiovese. For some reason, this was a bit difficult to find this year, but it remains one of my favorite wines in this price range. Here are my notes from the 2014: I’ve said it before, but this is one of the best red values out there. Earthy and fruity, which seems to combine the best of the Old World New World. When asked to recommend an inexpensive red, I always include this wine on the list. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.

What?? No Cecchi Chianti??

2016 Pasqua Passimento Rosso, Romeo & Juliet, Veneto IGT: Retail $15. Merlot 40%, Corvina 30%, Croatina 30%. Fairly dark in the glass with juicy red and blue fruit, a bit of tobacco, and some earth. The palate is certainly fruit-forward and concentrated as one might expect from a passimento, but far from heavy. Really nice flavors and balance–I know it is a big producer and this is an inexpensive wine, but  I am impressed. The label is a bit too busy for me, but that is really my only gripe. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.



About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Beaujolais, Corvina, Croatina, Gamay, Merlot, Rosé, Sangiovese, Wine, Zinfandel. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Bottom Shelves of Thanksgiving

  1. Mary says:

    I haven’t travelled home (and by home I mean Arizona) for Thanksgiving since college 🙂
    And I also hate sweet potatoes with marshmallows and have never allowed it on my table (what the heck is that?!).
    And I agree 1,000% on bringing everyday value wines. Though all the wines I’m bringing this year are also Oregon local (all between $15-$20-ish).
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. aFrankAngle says:

    I like a lot on this list. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.


  3. outwines says:

    I have to laugh at your marshmallow bit – just below that (on my screen anyways) is an ad for toenail fungus remover which eerily looks like . . . marshmallow crème. Think I’ll scrap that side dish tomorrow! Happy Thanksgiving!!


  4. chef mimi says:

    Oh jeez, you hit on my major pet peeve. Marshmallows on already SWEET potatoes. And they’re so good with garlic. There’s a post somewhere about how rude my mother was for all my growing up years. Being French, even though she’s lived in the US since 1958, she never celebrated an American holiday. And worse then that, she refused to make turkey. so when I got my first chance to go to a friend’s thanksgiving at her family’s home when I was in school at UCSB, I jumped at it. And there were the sweet potatoes, covered in marshmallows. Overcooked turkey, that cranberry sauce in the shape of the CAN. And purchased pies in metal plates to top everything off. I was horrified. I know nothing about the Lions, but the whole Thanksgiving parade can go as far as I’m concerned. We never had to deal with traveling – we were blessed to be a little family of four. There were a few others, but they didn’t like us much, which was great. Now my older one has the 2 grand kids and they now do their own Christmas, and the younger one has a British boyfriend will be in England for Christmas. Wise choice. But they will be here today because last year I made him fall in love with the whole concept of Thanksgiving. Not the pilgrim stuff, just the food and drink part. And tomorrow the whole family will be here (all 6 os us plus 2 grandkids) and we will raclette, which is just as much fun as Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks for the wine tips. I’ve always gotten the Cecchi San Genoese, so good to know you approve. Have a fabulous Thanksgiving !!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.