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Wine and Food Wednesday
Thanksgiving Thoughts

By Stephen Eliot

Nope…I am not going to do it. I am not going down the same rutted road that is as gridlocked with wine writers of every stripe as the Oakland Bay Bridge is at 5:00 PM on a Friday afternoon. I am not going to offer up my own clichéd list of wine recommendations for Thanksgiving dinner. The truth is that I find the traditional American spread of Turkey and trimmings to be one of most maddening meals of the year as far as finding a really happy wine pairing goes. It is a meal that works with many wines and no wine at all. Oh sure, a rich, deeply filled Chardonnay or milder Pinot might be just dandy with the bird and even the stuffing, but then there are the sugary, marshmallow-glazed yams, the Brussel sprouts…and let’s not forget the cranberry sauce, a partner so deadly to wine that the word “malevolent” springs to mind.

When given a choice I might reach for bubbles (the pink kind) and real Beaujolais can be nice; and I do not mean the newly released nouveaus that seem to strike a chord with all who wish to be French for day. (The frenzy that attends the third Thursday in November reminds me too much of that day every March when we pretend we are Irish and are asked to drink ghastly green beer.) After many years of searching for something that I can contentedly drink throughout the Thanksgiving meal, I must confess that I have just about given up. I remember when the world was a simpler place and television commercials for Blue Nun, Lancers and Mateus were there to guide us and teach us that there were wines that worked perfectly with everything, but those days and their innocence are forever gone. And, despite the fact that a recently tasted entry for our January Zinfandel issue informed us on the back label that it made ideal drinking with “all known foods”, I have been betrayed too many times and am afraid that my faith in such promises is dead.

This year, I just might take the salad-bar approach to wine service and set every place with five or six glasses, and then fill the table with every bottle that even has a chance of being enjoyed. A bite here, a sip there…yes, it really might work. The one thing of which I am certain is how much I will enjoy the sure-to-be-needed digestif effects of a fine old Brandy after the carnage concludes. I know that this sounds too much like Thanksgiving Day at the Scrooges, but I really do love the day and look forward to the warmth of family and friends. It is a day, however, that I must put my professional wine guise aside, and, you know, maybe that is just what a holiday is for.

by John
Posted on:11/24/2010 11:44:48 AM

Why does Thanksgiving HAVE to mean turkey and all those horrid and wine-unfriendly sides? I will give you that it may have to mean watching football on the couch with your belt loosened, but a feast is a feast. Wine lovers should give thanks and celebrate thh bounty of the harvest with wine-friendly dishes.

I'm with you on your choices of bubbles and cru Beaujolais, to which I would tritely add: dry Riesling from anywhere, and about any wine from Alsace. I have enjoyed dry rose (esp from Bandol and Tavel) and vin jaune from the Jura on several Thanksgiving occasions - both can make felicitous pairings with the most challenging foods. Also, there is no reason at all to avoid finishing with old Port or Madiera -- both go well with pecan and pumpkin pies (skip the whipped cream) or just serve some good cheese. My digestf of choice after a huge meal and too many calories is Fernet Branca. Cheers!

No Subject
by Thomas Pellechia
Posted on:11/24/2010 1:28:45 PM



One year, many years ago, I pleaded with my in-laws to let me provide them with my version of a Thanksgiving dinner. They said ok.

From that Thanksgiving forward, rack of lamb became the staple dinner, and all kinds of red wines have been sampled too.

The HUAC Is Investigating
by Charles E. Olken
Posted on:11/24/2010 2:11:28 PM

Heresy !!


And who here besides Tom and me knows what the HUAC is, or was?

The Meal
by Stephen Eliot
Posted on:11/24/2010 2:34:34 PM

John, The meal is rooted in very American tradition, and I suppose that it would proceed that a rich ale would be the best choice by way of both practicality and adherence to tradtion. I think you could make a string case that beer, not wine, is and has been America's beverage. And, yes, I too like Riesling, dry Rose, et al, with the meal, but they don't like the cranberries and candied yams any more than the rest.

Tom, Would that I could get my stubborn children to accept something other than the "classics". We have a deal, though...they get to pick Thanksgiving victuals, but the Christmas meal is all mine and the wines will be wonderful and very red.

Charlie, No, I am not now nor ever been a member of the Communist Party...but I once voted for McGovern and I do like Red wines.

Chuck Em'
by Samantha Dugan
Posted on:11/24/2010 7:14:39 PM

Well fellas, as the girl that loathes both cranberries, (from the can pressed jellied goo to the fresh, all ick to me) or sweet potatoes I'm sittin' pretty right about now. Gonna load up glass after glass of Champagne and maybe a little something sexy in the form of red from the Cote de Nuits and be pleased as punch.....never understood that expression "pleased as punch" I mean how happy could punch be really? Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
by John
Posted on:11/26/2010 6:00:07 PM

My French winemaker friend cooked a perfect turkey - stuffed with fruit. The drippings made a wonderful gravy! I made a Toulousaine onion tart for an app next to a brie en croute, and a Lyonnaise apple tart for dessert. We had garlic mashed Russet potatoes with creme fraiche, mashed sweet potatoes with just a bit of maple syrup and salt stirred in, green beans with pancetta and grated Brussels sprouts sweated in lots of butter for sides. Costco provided a pumpkin pie. There was neither cranberry nor candied yam casserole - with or without marshmallows or pecans or brown sugar.

We made no attempt to pair at all. There was lots of bubbly, a couple bottles of Napa Sauv. Blanc, a 2006 Napa meritage blend, 2004 premier cru Chablis, 2002 Napa reserve Cab out of magnum, 2000 red Chassagne Montrachet and a 1982 California Pinot. We poured in no sort of order. It was a wonderful meal.

What? No Marshmallows
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:11/26/2010 6:15:38 PM

My mother-in-law would boycott your house. Of course, this is the person, as wonderful as she is, who drinks port with her tacos.

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