Every year, people wring their hands over which wine to serve with the turkey, potatoes, and dressing, even though we already know that Champagne is the best choice. But not everyone can drink Champagne (or any alcohol for that matter) and—while it’s thirst-quenching—water is just not celebratory enough for Thanksgiving day. Luckily (for everyone, but especially for me), Diet Coke exists, and it is the perfect beverage to pair with The Big Meal.
(Before I continue, let me say that I will not tolerate any chemophobia-fueled Diet Coke slander in the comment or in my inbox. It’s a delicious beverage I have been enjoying since I was five, and I am fine.)
Anyway. Diet Coke possesses many of the same qualities that make Champagne perfect for Turkey Day. To quote an expert source (myself), like Champagne, Diet Coke’s “acidic, bright, effervescent nature makes it the perfect foil for salty, fatty food, which is exactly what a good Thanksgiving menu is comprised of.” (Unlike Champagne, you can get a two-liter for two bucks.)
Diet Coke’s refreshing, almost aggressive tartness comes from two of my favorite acids—phosphoric and citric—and they are the heroes that make it so perfect for washing away rich savory flavors and preparing your mouth for the next bite. (They are also why Diet Coke is so good with cheeseburgers.)
Diet Coke is a little sweeter than sparkling wine, yes, but it’s a sugar-free sweetness. Unlike a classic Coca-Cola, Diet Coke doesn’t coat your palate or make your teeth hurt—it simply cleanses your palate before moving on to your stomach, which it settles slightly with its bubbles. (It’s also calorie-free, which some people care about, though I do not.) Diet Coke even pairs well with most desserts. (Try it with a peanut M&M if you don’t believe me.)
Diet Coke is caffeinated, which helps combat those post-turkey sleepy feelings, and non-alcoholic, which helps prevent seasonal arguments (though it’s unlikely your anti-vaxxer cousin or racist uncle will be at Thanksgiving this year due to… you know.) It also comes in all sorts of flavors now, which is fun, though I have not found one I enjoy more than regular Diet Coke (which tastes like a robot’s bathwater, and is perfect).
If you know you’re going to have Diet Coke haters at your table (we can’t choose our family!), you might want to offer a few other choices. Unsweetened tea, seltzer, and ginger ale are all nice, alcohol-free choices—though none will cleanse a palate, nor make me as happy, as Diet Coke.