Retailers can’t underestimate the importance of Thanksgiving wine sales. “The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is still historically our busiest single wine bottle purchase day of the year,” says Ted Farrell, president of the 11-unit Haskell’s chain in Minnesota. “Since Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday, when people leave the office on Wednesday, they come here to buy wine.”
The store’s marquee Thanksgiving white wine is 2020 Vouvray Voltaire ($14 a 750-ml.). “Vouvray Chenin Blanc on the palate, like turkey, has a little bit of sweetness, but finishes off bone dry, so it’s perfect for Thanksgiving,” Farrell says. “Vouvray is our big push. We will restock our display about seven times. We’ve been selling Vouvray Voltaire for 30 years.” White Burgundies also sell well at Haskell’s, and Viénot Mâcon-Villages ($15 a 750-ml.) is popular. “It’s good to have a Mâcon on the Thanksgiving table,” Farrell notes.
Haskell’s usually has three Beaujolais Nouveau offerings around Thanksgiving as well, but supply chain issues continue taking their toll. This year the store has only one Beaujolais Nouveau offering: Georges Duboeuf ($10 a 750-ml.). “For the first time, we’ve had supply issues on the Beaujolais Nouveau, and one of our other Beaujolais Nouveau suppliers couldn’t put wine in the bottle due to glass shortages,” Farrell says. “We also push a lot of Pinot Noir for Thanksgiving because it’s a lighter style of wine. It doesn’t overpower your meal and goes well with everything.”
At Zachys Fine Wine in Scarsdale, New York, big growth categories heading into the Thanksgiving holiday are white Burgundies and red Bordeaux, California, and Burgundy wines. Despite ongoing supply chain issues, Zachys is ready to meet holiday demand. “We are fortunate to have some of the best and largest temperature-controlled warehousing in the country, so we forecasted for the slower supply chain and committed to inventory for the season,” says president Jeff Zacharia.
Zachys top-selling white Burgundy wines are 2020 Piuze Les Forêts Chablis ($63 a 750-ml.), 2020 Héritiers du Comte Lafon Mâcon-Villages ($22 a 750-ml.), and 2019 Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches Blanc ($170). “The warehouse is full and ready for the season,” Zacharia says. “We expect major delays with FedEx and UPS so I encourage consumers to shop early.”
Meanwhile, Zachys’ best-selling California reds include 2019 Caterwaul Cabernet Sauvignon ($65 a 750-ml.) 2019 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs Zinfandel ($36 a 750-ml.), and 2019 DuMOL Wester Reach Pinot Noir ($70 a 750-ml.). Leading red Bordeaux wines at Zachys are 2016 Vieux Château Saint André ($25), 2009 Château Pontet Canet ($300), and 2015 Château Pierre 1er ($25).
Due to the ongoing uncertainty of Covid-19 and its variants, some retailers, including Zachys and Haskell’s, are shying away from in-store tastings this holiday season. “We really haven’t returned to the big in-store tastings,” Zacharia says. “We see a major shift to buying online. Our biggest driver on the web has been the mix-and-match case deals (10% off six 750-ml. bottles, 15% off 12, and 20% off 24).”
Boxed wines are also big sellers at Thanksgiving. In Minnesota, Haskell’s sells its fair share of 3-liter box wines, but supply isn’t meeting demand for Bota Box ($16 a 3-liter box). “We look like we’re going out of business because all of our Bota Box shelving is empty, but we have no problem with Black Box ($19 a 3-liter box),” Farrell says. “For a lot of people, boxed wine is a great way to serve the masses.”