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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The holidays are here, and every publication across the country is offering up advice on the perfect wines to serve for Thanksgiving and beyond.

These articles all suggest there is some skeleton-key wine out there that magically and universally pairs with everything on the table, somehow unlocking the doors to flavor bliss. This is a lie. Take it from me: There is no one wine in existence that will perfectly pair with candied sweet potatoes, tart cranberry sauce, oyster stuffing, green beans, a honey-glazed ham and your 20-pound overcooked turkey. Anyone who tells you otherwise has no idea what they’re talking about.

Let’s face it … the holidays can be rough. It’s incredibly stressful to host a dinner party for a throng of people, let alone the singularly most hyped meal of the year. Adding to that, the Thanksgiving guest list can be downright cringe-worthy: in-laws, a crabby grandpa, an overbearing and hypercritical mother, the inappropriate aunt who will probably make someone cry, and so on. These people the very reason wine is present at these dinners in the first place—but now we now have to worry that the grenache we chose won’t properly accentuate the delicate mushroom flavors in the gravy? Growing up, the only thing I remember anyone fretting about was the bird. So, when did we start agonizing over wine pairings? My main advice: Stop agonizing. Unless that obnoxious cousin who crushes beer cans on his forehead also happens to be a master sommelier, I’m here to tell you: As long as the wine you serve has alcohol in it, you’re doing just fine.

All that being said, I’m constantly asked what wines I’m pouring for the holidays, and I’m happy to tell you about my wine list.

I open up a lot of different bottles on Thanksgiving and would never commit to a case of anything. Much like the dinner itself, with its countless side dishes that make absolutely no sense, Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to procure myriad wines that normally would never be seen next to each other on the same dinner table. The bonus is, of course, that there’s bound to be something there that will please your snarky aunt.

I braved the nonsensical aisles of Total Wine and More to give you a one-stop wine shopping experience. All the wines mentioned heretofore can be found in the Palm Desert mega store. Pack a snack; you might be there a while.

First on my list is a sparkling wine—and there is no need to drop a paycheck on a good bottle if you’re in the know. My go-to this season is a fabulous little gem called Gruet. It’s produced in New Mexico (that’s right … New Mexico!) by a darling French family that’s been producing bubbles in Champagne since the 1950s. The Gruet brut is an astonishing value and will impress the snobbiest of wine nerds.

Next up are wines no one will be able to pronounce. This is always fun at a dinner party. My favorites are an Austrian gruner veltliner like the Winzer Krems gruner veltliner kremser sandgrube and the dry domestic Husch gewurztraminer. Both are lively and expressive and relatively low in alcohol, so you can keep your wits about you while sitting across from your mother-in-law all night.

As for the reds, let’s start with what I won’t serve: Zinfandel is always on my no-no list. So many are around 16 percent alcohol, and we all know that Thanksgiving is about endurance drinking. Plus, here in the desert, we very well may have a god-forsaken heat spike that day, and after heat plus a boozy wine mixed with all the tryptophan in the turkey, you might slip into a coma and not be heard from in days. So, no zinfandel. I will be picking up some cru beaujolais this year. Not beaujolais nouveau—cru beaujolais. I found a delicious Domaine des Maisons Neuves from Moulin-a-Vent that is every bit as food-friendly as your beloved pinot noir, but not nearly as wallet-draining. Plus, it’s meant to be chilled down, which will help you deal with the blazing heat from the ovens and burners going simultaneously in your kitchen.

Merlot will be front and center on my bar, haters be damned. It’s velvety and rich with loads of fruit and just the right amount of vibrant acidity. After revisiting the Frogs Leap Merlot, I can’t for the life of me figure out why everyone abandoned this beautiful little grape. C’mon people: Sideways was 13 years ago. Let’s move on.

The rest of the wines I’ll serve are fun favorites that I enjoy year-round—chenin blanc from South Africa, and a Cotes du Rhone rouge which is a delightful blend of grenache, syrah, mourvedre, et al. I’ll have some Oregon pinot noir, and maybe a wacky Greek wine or two.

The point is I’m going to drink what I want without a single thought about the perfect pairing. The holidays are all about indulging and gastronomic hedonism, so have fun; be safe; and drink whatever you damn well please.

Katie Finn is a certified sommelier and certified specialist of wine with more than 15 years in the wine industry. She is a member of the Society of Wine Educators and is currently studying with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. When she's not hitting the books, you can find her hosting private wine tastings and exploring the desert with her husband and two children. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Wine

Dear Mexican: Many of my friends think I'm loco for playing with my dad the way I do. See, mi padre is now retired and living in Mexico, and is very worried that I am now 30 and not married yet, so he wants me to go back to where he lives to try and take an india from there back here to los EEUU, if only to at least look after me. I retaliate by kindly "reminding" him as much as possible that we are leprecanos (yes, I read your previous articles), to which he gets very angry. Everyone says that he's going to beat me up one day, but it never happens. Last year, I gave him for Navidad a bowler hat, an Irish soccer shirt and matching knee high socks. Let me tell you, he was so red for a second I thought he was going to explotar, but we still love one another very mucho. Are family relationships between gabachos so much different?

Concerned Green Bean

Dear Leprecano: Just a quick reminder for the gabachos and wabs that might've forgotten your ethnicity: A leprecano is a half-Mexican, half-Irish person and therefore probably the most raza borracha of them all. As for your question: Why are you asking me about gabachos? They're a bigger mystery to me than Mayan Long Count calendar. The one spiel I can pull out of your hilarious pregunta, though, is the idea of Mexican families in the United States sending their pocho sons to the motherland to find himself a nice rancho girl.

The intermarriage rates among Latinos continue to rise—the Pew Hispanic Center reported this year that 26 percent of Latinos marry outside their ethnic group, second only to Asians among America's largest ethnic groups—the reality is that Mexican immigrants want their children to marry within their old social structures. That's why a Mexican-American teenager's life is a perpetual weekend of weddings, quinceañeras, birthdays, baptisms and boxing matches—they're all staging areas for courtship. Of course, the best-laid plans of Mexis and madres usually fail here in el Norte, what with all the girls from Jalisco, Zacatecas and Sinaloa flirting their way toward every Mexican man's heart. That's why the fail-safe measure for parents is the rancho option: There's always going to be a third cousin in the ancestral village who's still a virgin, waiting patiently for pocho peen salvation.

Why do Mexicans all flock back to the motherland at Christmas for weeks at a time? They buy a shitload of presents, new clothes and basically check out of the USA. They blow their all feria, and then come back broke and start all over again. My folks are from the beautiful state of Chihuahua, and I cannot remember ever leaving at Christmastime for an extended trip to Mexico. ... Come to think of it, I can't remember any presents either. Shit...sucks for me.

Mexicana Por Fortuna

Dear Wabette by Fortune: Most of the Mexicans who historically made the trip back home to Mexico (I say "historically" because fewer Mexis are making such trips at the moment due to the narcowars and pendejo border fences) loaded up on presents for relatives back home, relatives that were usually poorer than them. Also don't forget the conspicuous consumption angle (immigrants want to appear as if they've found success, especially when going back home) and the fact that Mexicans return to Mexico because they're Mexicans and have Mexican relatives who still live in Mexico and want to see their Mexican relatives in Mexico because Mexico Mexico VIVA MEXICO, CABRONES!!!

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or ask him a video question at youtube.com/askamexicano!

Published in Ask a Mexican