Perhaps you already guessed this, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday… well it’s actually tied with Fourth of July. Why you ask? Because the Thanksgiving is about sitting around the table with friends and family enjoying a delicious meal and creating new memories. It’s about learning how to make your favorite family dishes or hosting family with all your new registry items. Simply put, it’s a holiday focused on food and family!
While 2020 won’t be the traditional Thanksgiving celebration for my family, we are still finding ways to carry on our favorite traditions. This blog post shares all the details on our Annual Thanksgiving Competitive Wine Tasting (my favorite tradition) and how we plan to adjust this year to carry on. It also includes some tips on how to make a festive cheese board!
This is our Thanksgiving Crew! My family + The Harrell family. The Harrell’s (used to) live 3 houses down from my parents. We have known each other for over 25 years and have lived through many major life milestones together.
Now let’s get on with the wine tasting!
Competitive Wine Tasting!
This is hands down my favorite holiday tradition! I have really grown to love red wine over the years and there is truly no better way to try new wines than to do a blind tasting. Well we maybe Napa is better, but that’s not an option right now.
Our Thanksgiving crew loves reds, so we typically do all red varietals for Thanksgiving which, in my opinion, makes it easier to select a winning bottle.
Here’s how it works:
- Every participant selects a bottle of wine between a set price point. We pick bottles between $20 and $50. I realize this is a pretty wide range, but you’d be surprised at which wines you like/dislike without seeing the label. It’s also the best time for our parents to bust out their expensive bottles trying to beat us kiddos! Spoiler alert: I won in 2019 with Saldo – This runs for $31.99 a bottle in Columbus, OH! If you haven’t tried Saldo before, I highly recommend this wine!
- Brown bag all of the bottles. TIP: Ask you cashier for wine bags so they are uniform. If someone brings a wine from Giant Eagle and another from Kroger, you’ll be able to tell from the wine bag labels.
- Number all of the bottles. I bought this template (pictured below) from Etsy for $9.50 which includes 10 bottle labels and tasting cards. They’re prefect for any blind tasting and easy to reprint year over year!
- Line the bottles up and start tasting. We usually do a few rounds of tastes, especially when we have a lot of bottles. One year we had 9 so we had to narrow it down to a favorite.
- Everyone submits their top 2-3 wines and we tally up the points. If there is a tie, we all go back and taste again. Hence why the cheese board comes in handy. 😉
- The winner gets a prize. Last year I won an old Ohio State Buckeyes coffee mug with chocolate. You could do a candle, gift card, or make a trophy that travels to the winner year over year. Have fun with it and add your own flare!
So what’s the plan this year? Well we’re certainly not letting COVID stop us from our favorite tradition… we just had to get a bit more creative.
Since we opted to do Thanksgiving with only our immediate families, each participant needs to buy 2 bottles of the same wine. We will give one bottle to the other house and they will swap theirs as well so we’ll all have the same lineup. Then we will do a virtual tasting over zoom. More wine for less people.. uh oh! 🙂
Can’t wait to show you the 2020 results!
One last thing… I’m working on pulling together a Right Back Spatula approved wine list and will update this post when it’s complete. It will include all of my favorites as well as recommendations from Instagram! I mean, what else will we do all winter? At the very least, we can all work our way down the list.
Thanksgiving Cheese Board:
We obviously need a themed cheese board when wine is involved or in this case, especially when wine is involved. In 2019 I went all out and created this fun board with a cheese pumpkin pie, and a cheese turkey. Making a festive cheese board would also be a fun activity to do with kids.
Cheese Pumpkin Pie:
I stumbled upon this blog post from 4 Sons R Us and followed these instructions to make my mini pie slices.
What you’ll need for the cheese pumpkin pie:
- Chicken in a Biskit crackers
- Cheddar cheese
- Cream cheese
- Thin Triangle shaped Triscuits
If we’re being honest, my pie is a little sloppy, but I was in a hurry to assemble. 🙂
What you’ll need to make this Turkey cheese ball:
- Turkey body 1 Kaukauna cheese ball
- Turkey head 1 Asiago cheese ball (I found this pre-made at Giant Eagle Market District)
- Eyes 2 sunflower seeds
- Beak 1 almond
- Feet and wattle Orange and red pepper
- Feathers pretzels
Other items on this board:
- Merlot cheese
- Unexpected cheddar
- Pepperjack cheese cubes
- Smoked gouda
- Salami snack bites
- Prosciutto bundles
- Salami, folded
- Apple slices
- Harvest Salsa from Trader Joe’s
- Dried apricots
- Marcona almonds
- Twisted cheese sticks from Trader Joe’s
- Rosemary to garnish
- Harvest chocolates from Trader Joe’s
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
I’d love to hear from you if you make a Thanksgiving cheese board of your own or host your own Competitive Wine Tasting! As always, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @rightbackspatula so I can see your fun creations!