“You opened the Merlot without me?” My Thanksgiving recommendations for @HoustonPress @EatingOurWords

selbachAbove: there are handful of one-liter bottles of the 2010 Selbach Riesling that — I’m guessing — have been sitting on the shelves at the flagship Spec’s in Houston (the behemoth Texas retailer) for a few years now. I snagged one for around $15 and it is drinking nicely.

My friend and colleague Cathy Huyghe recently blogged about her new experiment, the “Blue Collar Wine Guide,” for Forbes.com.

She was prompted, she wrote, by her revelation that “I don’t spend much time writing about how most people actually drink it.”

“Maybe… just maybe,” she opined, “we’re writing about wine as ‘wine people’ and not as real people. Maybe we’re too busy writing for people who are already in some imaginary inner circle. Maybe we aren’t listening well enough to what people actually like and what people actually drink.”

Whoever the we in her pluralis majestatis, I took inspiration from her post for my post today for the Houston Press, “5 THANKSGIVING WINES UNDER $20 OR ‘YOU OPENED THE MERLOT WITHOUT ME?'”

Capping my selections at $20 ($5 less than Eric Asmiov’s Thanksgiving “fret-free” picks for the New York Times), I set about shopping for wines that readily available in southeast Texas with the added criterion of familiarity.

I generally don’t care for slightly oaky Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina. But I recognize that a lot of people like wines like it, including many of my fellow Texans and the people who read the Houston Press, the weekly rag in America’s fourth-largest city.

balandranAbove: my go-to wine shop, the Houston Wine Merchant, is sold out of the 2014 Costières de Nîmes rosé by Balandran (a wine imported locally). But there are still a few bottles left on the shelves of Spec’s. Great value, great wine.

Is it wrong to recommend wines that I don’t particularly like myself, even though they represent objective value for the average American wine drinker today?

In my mind, Eric remains the best wine writer in popular American wine writing today. A Solomon among wine scribes, he always manages to strike a healthy balance between writing about what he personally likes and what he may not drink in his off time.

picpoul de pinetAbove: Tracie P and I both really liked the citrus and dried-citrus fruit in this Picpoul by Gérard Bertrand that I picked up about the Houston Wine Merchant.

The three wines featured in this post’s photos didn’t make it into my piece for the Houston Press. I really liked each one of them but I didn’t think they worked well for the average Joanne who’s out shopping on her once-or-twice-a-year wine-finding mission.

When I shared a draft with Tracie P this morning, she approved.

“Am I a sell-out?” I asked her, hoping that my personal wine-culture-war crisis wouldn’t be the demise of our felicitous union.

“No,” she replied, “you’re writing about wines that people can actually find and that they want to drink at Thanksgiving.”

And even though she made me edit out some of the more off-color humor about our homelife, I had fun writing about what it’s like for a La Jolla-raised grandson of eastern-European Jewish immigrants to play sommelier for his southeast-Texan family.

Here’s the link. Buona lettura! And thanks for reading.

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