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Thanksgiving: How to Save Money on Wine and Booze

How to save money on your bar bill this Thanksgiving and holiday season by buying affordable and box wine, seasonal beer and cocktailsBy Deborah Goldstein
You know how to save on your Thanksgiving meal, but you’ll want to be mindful of overspending on alcohol, too. According to, the average dinner guest consumes about two to three drinks over the course of an evening. A bottle of wine yields about five drinks, so you’ll need at least one bottle for every two guests. For a party of 10, and you’re looking at six bottles minimum, which will set you back at least $40 to $50. Here’s how to keep costs down.

Serve pre-dinner cocktails instead of wine, say Brooke Parkhurst and James Briscione, authors of Just Married and Cooking: 200 Recipes for Living, Eating, and Entertaining Together.

“As a host, it’s easy to fall back on wine (and to fall over when you’ve had too much of it). Uncork, pour, and serve. But the truth is that wine can really push up your bar bill. So while you’ll still serve vino with the meal, consider mixing up house cocktails during the aperitif or cocktail hour. By investing in several top-shelf bottles of booze, serving cocktails before dinner will be less expensive in the long run than serving many bottles of inexpensive wine.”

Watch for sales now and slowly stock your bar for the entire holiday season—or choose just one of your favorite spirits and conjure up a signature pre-dinner drink or two.

VIDEO: George Taber shows how to find great wines under $10

Consider serving box wine. Once taboo, it’s growing steadily in popularity since box wine costs less and stays fresh for weeks, as opposed to bottles, which spoil shortly after being opened. Politely inform the wine snob at the table that most box wines come in eco-friendly packaging, like the Bota Box brand, whose wines also score praise from critics. At about $20 per box, a Bota Box offers the equivalent of four bottles of quality wine. Not bad.

Case the joint. If you have a favorite wine, watch for sales at your local wine shop and then buy a case ahead of time to last you through the new year. It’s cheaper to buy in bulk, and you’ll have extra bottles on hand to double as last-minute gifts next month. Check the winery’s web site, too; some offer great holiday deals and/or free shipping.

For beer lovers, a seasonal pumpkin ale is likely to go on sale closer to Thanksgiving, but it’s also guaranteed to be fresh—beer doesn’t age like wine. Fresh is always preferred to a case that’s been sitting on the shelves for months.

Another way to save: Ask that kitchen-impaired guest to bring a bottle of wine or six-pack of beer instead of a bland supermarket pie or stuffing from a box.

Finally, if you’re lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s that sells wine, there’s always Two Buck Chuck (or Three Buck Chuck, if you’re on the East Coast).


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