Everyone knows alcohol helps pass the time spent with less-than-kindred kin during the holiday season. If bird is the word, that dried-out turkey might need some liquid support as much as you do. With mandatory imbibing in mind, we discuss different tactics involving wine to get over obstacles, emotional and physical, such as how to avoid unnecessary tableside political conversations and restroom getaway routes — all by way of holiday wine selections.
Holiday Hustle: Drink Supplier To Distant Relatives
Partner in Wine: Cheap wine
Chances are you might not know your cousin’s husband’s brother-in-law who will be sitting at the 20-person-wide communal table this holiday, but chances are better that he doesn’t know you or your drink taste.
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Shop the discount section at large grocers — Kroger stores are notorious for marking down bottles that do not sell well, many of which might be insane deals if you look close enough. Or, instead of skimming the bottle shelf for dwellers even your stingy uncle knows is cheap, look one row up and select a teeth-staining, full-bodied Argentine Malbec for $7 instead.
Holiday Hustle: The Amiable Partisan
Partner in Wine: High ABV bottles
No amount of wine can change the results of this election, but it can help to tune out the amount of nonsense you have to take an ear-full of from a relative that might not have the same POV as you. The aforementioned Malbec can do the trick if it’s coming from hot enough grape-growing regions but Zinfandel is a sure bet — anything from California’s wicked hot Lodi region will see alcohol by volume (ABV) percentages in the high 15s, 16s and even 17 percentiles. Just maybe avoid talking about the reason why that region is so hot in the first place…
Holiday Hustle: The Conversation Starter
Partner in Wine: Striking packaging
“Yes, Grandma, that is a naked woman on the label and no, she is not a friend of mine.” Stuck in an empty tête-à-tête with an in-law? Grab the nearest bottle and start discussing the abject expressionism of bottle art. Learn up on what you are pouring in your glass so you can rattle off a car-rehearsed canned speech on what makes your bottle worth filling vacant airspace with.
Holiday Hustle: The Busy Bee
Partner in Wine: Mulled wine
Sugar and spice and everything nice, you are way too busy in the kitchen seasoning your multi-step, slow-cooked mulled wine to converse with anyone you do not want to. Hovering over your mom’s crockpot, wooden ladle in hand with the hood fan blowing a sweet breeze into your face, you are also nearly hard of hearing in this position: an unappealing counterpart for a heart-to-heart-seeking relative.
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Although most recipes really only require 20 minutes of “active” work, this recipe instructs for a watchful eye over a spices-stuffed cheesecloth bag and a splash of brandy for the win.
Holiday Hustle: The Bathroom Breaker
Partner in Wine: Large format bottles
This social pardon requires commitment — from lingering around a large format container of purple drank to loitering around the restroom regardless of who went in there last. Large formats — aka box wine, a 1.5-liter bottle or bigger — will only hit your bladder as fast as you hit that bottle, but we all know what happens once you break the seal. Position yourself and your bottle/box close to the restroom for a quick and easy closure to an undesirable exchange.