Ideas for Keeping Your Thanksgiving "Spirits" Flowing!

Chef Sarah's Cocktail, Beer and Wine Recommendations for your Thanksgiving Holiday

After working in the food and beverage industry for many years, I would like to hope that I know a few things about "adult beverages". I wanted to step away from the usual Turkey 101 or Thanksgiving side dish know how and give our clients, fans, and followers some advice on how to keep everyone (of age!) happy, chatty and thankful!

wine table


A lot of family gatherings and friendly reunions occur the night before a holiday, why not offer some hangover curing libations while everyone is waiting on your delicious meal to be prepared?! You could hire a bartender, assign someone to mix up everybody's favorite or just do like I would and set up a wet-bar with lots of basic cocktail selections and let your guests mix their own. Here are some inexpensive drinks that come to

  • Bloody Marys (vodka or gin) or Bloody Marias (tequila)drinks
  • Mimosas with mixed fruit juices (orange, grapefruit, cranberry, pineapple, etc.)
  • For your younger drinkers, stock up on some energy drinks to mix with vodka (Red Bull Vodkas)

pear cocktails

  •  Pear and Rosemary Cocktails can be made in advance and kept cold, simply pour over ice and add rosemary sprigs for a festive garnish!
  • rosemary olive martiniAnother great idea - Instead of toothpicks or neon-colored swords, offer your guests rosemary sprigs for skewering their olives for their martinis!


During your Thanksgiving feast, I would like to recommend wine and lots of it!  Reds, Whites, Rosès, and Bubbly could all pair wonderfully with traditional Thanksgiving meals and all of the possible variations. The best part about my list below is that money is an object when I go shopping. I would never recommend any wine outside of "practical" in regards to price. All of these wines are available at local (to Texas) supermarkets, wine-liquor stores. So which varietals would I recommend? Give some of these a try...


  • Prosecco – labels that I enjoy range from Cupcake, Lamarca, Riondo, to Carpenè Malvolti
  • Champagne – you could use your lower quality brands such as Wycliff, Martini, Korbel etc. for the mimosas, but for the real deal toast and celebration, there is nothing better than a Yellow Label Vueve Cliquot!


  • Rosè – this deliciously crisp and sweet wine isn't just for summertime picnics, rosè can be enjoyed year round, especially when slaving away over a stove all day! Try sipping some of these lovely labels: Riondo Pink, Crios Rose of Malbec, Finca Del Origen Rose of Malbec, Mumm Brut Rose (bubbly too!) or any V. Sattui rosè.
  • White Zinfandel – I can't conscientiously promote the drinking of this wine, but if you are looking for a really sweet, almost syrupy wine, try my best friend's favorite Beringer.

Whitefn wine pic

  • Chardonnays – buttery, creamy, sometimes fruity and floral, Chardonnay is an all-purpose white wine that is sure to please. Labels that I prefer are Kendall Jackson, La Crema, Jacob's Creek, Rodney Strong or Barefoot.
  • Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris  – light, crisp and usually fruity, I know of 3 labels that never disappoint, all of which are on the low end of the financial spectrum: Barefoot, Folonari and Santa Margherita
  • Sauvignon Blanc – I particularly love this varietal for its ease in pairing with just about anything! My favorites include Nobilo, Frog's Leap, Rutherford Ranch, Rodney Strong, Geyser Peak and Tourtise Creek
  • Reisling – Dessert Wine. Period. I would never recommend this wine be enjoyed with anything other than dessert. Try Chateau St. Michelle, Firestone, Hogue, Fetzer, Mondavi or Kendall Jackson.

Reds (My Favorite!!)

  • Merlot – I don't usually reach for merlot, unless I am going to cook with it, but I do occasionally have a glass of the quintessential red. Favorites that I have poured and sold over the years: Barefoot, Red Rock, Columbia Crest, Chateau St. Michelle and Smoking Loon.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – My go-to red, never fails, pairs with my ultimate faves (steaks, cheese & chocolate). Here are some labels that I look for regularly: B.V. Coastal Estates, Liberty School, Robert Mondavi, Penfolds, Hogue, Barefoot, Columbia-Crest, Concho y Toro, Ferrari Carano, Stag's Leap and Clos Du Val
  • Pinot Noir – selections I suggest: Bonterra, MacMurray, Robert Mondavi, Cupcake, Barefoot and Villa Maria.
  • Shiraz/Syrah – Also a great red, fruity and smoky all at the same time. Try out some of these, Hogue Cellars, Penfold's, Rosemount Estate, Bodegas Balbi, or Peter Lehmann
  • Zinfandel – Personally, I really enjoy Old Vine Zins but zinfandels in general always deliver: Ravenswood, Cline, 7 Deadly Zins, Rodney Strong, Layer Cake Primitivo, Rancho Zabaco, Dry Creek Vineyards, and Rosenblum

BEAUJOLAIS IS THE BEST WINE YOU COULD EVER SERVE AT THANKSGIVING! Try Nouveau or, better yet, cru Beaujolais from producers Georges Duboeuf, Georges Descombes, Domaine Yvon Metras, or Louis Jadot.


beer and turkey


There are some wonderful seasonal lagers and ales available for festive holiday parties. Try any of the following after your delicious autumn smorgasbord has been cleaned up and football is on the tube.

**Side note - I posted this awesome picture because #A - it's hilarious and #B - I am pretty sure this what guys imagine everytime we talk about Thanksgiving.** 

Shiner's Oktoberfest, Abita's Pecan Harvest Ale, Sam Adam's Octoberfest, Pyramid's Oktoberfest, Sierra Nevada's Tumbler Autumn Brown, Brooklyn's Oktoberfest, Blue Moon's Pumpkin Ale, Real Ale's Oktoberfest, New Belgium's Red Hoptober Ale or Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale

The most important thing to remember when shopping, tasting, pouring, discussing and enjoying these or any other beverage this holiday season is that the holidays are meant to be fun and shared with people you love. If you like it, it's appropriate, so go ahead, pour a glass or two or three, let loose and have a laugh!

Happy Holidays from all of us at Inspired Food and Wellness!


Posted in Culinary

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