Thanksgiving at the Iveys

How to choose the best Thanksgiving wine: an essential(ish) guide

Or #Alessoninpoorcustomerservice

We survived Easter in lockdown because the chocolate egg shops were still open. But now, as the days get colder and the nights get longer, thoughts are turning to the bigger feast days in the calendar.

There is obviously the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ next month, and the warnings about Lego shortages and worries about whether there will be enough PlayStation 5 consoles to go round.

But first there is Thanksgiving. It’s a day I’ve celebrated for almost as long as I’ve been alive (if you believe I’m 22 years old).

The Thanksgiving parade will be quite different this year
Thanksgiving at the Iveys
Several of my Thanksgivings were celebrated with families in the States. This isn’t a picture from one of them. This is a picture I found online (“Thanksgiving dinner” by KCIvey is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Thanksgiving at The Trolls
The picture caption above also applies to this one. It’s not a photograph from a Thanksgiving I had in the United States of America (“Thanksgiving at the Trolls” by floodllama is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

One low point of celebrations in that time was eating KFC on the way back home from a Bromley Council meeting and realising it was the closest I was going to get to marking the occasion that year.

There was the year of the Cheesy Beans killer where my friend invited me to his colleague’s house, fairly near to where the murder had taken place, and I revealed to the host what had happened. That year it seemed like there were hundreds of us packed in to a flat feasting on turkey, my pecan pie, and other delights.

For a considerable time Thanksgiving has been a big occasion for three, then four and then five people (including me) where we eat turkey, hashbrown casserole, green bean casserole, sweet potato with marshmallow, an.other side dish, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce then, more often than not, four desserts between five people.

This year there’s the coronavirus pandemic (sorry if this is the first you’ve heard about it. Wear a mask) so the five is split into a two and a three.

But this year, just like in other parts of life, when things cannot be as you planned you just have to make the things you can control better than they have ever been before.

This starts with a Thanksgiving tradition which goes back quite a few years now. It’s called ‘Messaging supermarkets (and Marks & Spencer) on Twitter to ask them what wine they recommend for Thanksgiving’ because that’s what it is.

It started in 2013 with Tesco doing the thing social media teams like to do i.e. not answering the customer’s enquiry but ‘showing personality’

When I worked for PlayStation on email support we would do everything we could to help the consumer, whether their enquiry was about a disc read error or whether they could buy the song from a Crash Bandicoot game.

Sadly most of the people who have replied to my 2020 Thanksgiving wine tweets so far didn’t get the memo about helping the customer.

Sainsbury’s has done okay in years gone by but definitely takes last place (so far – but not every supermarket has replied) this year. Responding to the request for white wine recommendations the customer service ‘agent’ unhelpfully just sent me a link to all the white wines available on the website. And when I queried this he just said someone in a store would be able to help.

Why did Sainsbury’s think it is okay to just send a link to a list of white wines? #fail
My Sainsbury’s store is small and the staff are too busy stocking the shelves so don’t have time to give meaningful advice about wine

I was hoping Morrisons wouldn’t come up with any meaningful suggestions (because now I’ve moved I’m not super close to any stores) but this year they win the WTAF award for asking me to send them a direct message.

I wonder if my response has made them see the idiocy of their request.

I’m not sure why the customer service person thought this was a conversation to be had in private
You’ve got more chance of finding Wally (or Waldo if you’re reading this in the States) on the Tesco website than you have finding information about food and wine pairings

This year Tesco pretended the wine information on its website included details of what food it goes well with. Maybe some of the bottles do but none of the ones I saw carried such information.

And, what’s more, I think the chances of a wine label saying ‘goes well with cheesy, creamy, sweet Thanksgiving flavours’ is very small. They are much more likely to say ‘ideal with creamy pasta dishes’ or ‘serve with fish’.

At the time of writing, there has been no reply from Waitrose. (Maybe they are too busy with other customers or maybe they just don’t work weekends.)

But, if they do respond this week, I wager their response will be very much the same as last year where they advised me to ask a member of their in store wine team for advice, or 2018 where they really couldn’t be bothered at all.

Not the best example of customer service from Waitrose

Lidl gave it a good go by advising me to select either a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling.

Lidl made much more of an effort than most of the other supermarkets
If there was a yellow jersey for winning the ‘Messaging supermarkets (and Marks & Spencer) on Twitter to ask them what wine they recommend for Thanksgiving’ contest Marks & Spencer would have won it

But the out and out winner has to be Marks & Spencer.

I’d usually only visit an M&S store to use the toilet or get reduced chicken but it seems they also have a special customer service team.

By special I mean did their job (unlike most of the others).

They read my tweet and realised I wanted recommendations of wine, not just a link to the white wine listed on their website.

They also realised I know I could ask in shops for advice but was tweeting because there never seems to be a wine expert working in the wine section of any of the stores I visit.

Now the only issue is three of the four wines recommended by the customer service team are not in stock in the two shops I went to earlier today.

It’s a clear message from 2020 – great wines are available, but you can’t have them.

Stay safe for another week!