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Thursday Thorns
On Today’s Wine List

By Charles Olken

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who have the time to check in here today. It is early enough for me to have a few quiet moments before the hoards arrive. We have 35 people sharing the day with us, most of whom come from great distances to be here, including two from England and a batch from the East Coast. This kind of gathering of the Olken clan has been going on for as many years as I can remember. When we were a fairly tight geographic unit growing up in Boston, my Uncle Pete and Aunt Raisy (Rosalie) were the hosts. Now, with the family spread out on both coasts and my wife’s family on her mother’s side mostly in England, there are two such gatherings—one on each side of the country.

I cannot speak to the wines being served back east at my cousin Grace’s house. My suspicion is the Grace and Harold have a less modest cellar than mine, and probably have a more balanced wine purchase budget than mine. Since most of our family are wine drinkers, not wine students, they are likely to be happy no matter what shows up on the table as long as it does not give them a bellyache.

Our guests here in Alameda are no more knowledgeable or demanding than those back east. And, in their diversity lies my dilemma. I understand their palates, and I, of all people, feel the need to serve those palates with care and precision. It would be a lot easier if my mother-in-law were not looking for something sweet while my brother Richard goes in search of the most tannic red he can find. She, the mother-in-law, has been known to drink Port with her tacos. Richard impresses me as having the taste for toothpicks like a woodchuck. And then there are the younger generations. They are mostly drinkers of dry, accessible wines. A good Rosé impresses them as much as a fancy Pinot Noir (typically my first choice).

I will go out to the cellar soon and choose today’s wines, but you already see the outlines of the choices. We will start, of course, with copious quantities of the bubbly. Magnums of Gloria Ferrer Brut and Mumm Napa Brut will be joined by a handful of French bottlings from the likes of Duval-Leroy, Forget-Brimont and grower-producers, Camille Saves and Laherte Freres (a brilliant bubbly Brut Rosé).

I will attempt to fool my mother-in-law into drinking relatively dry wine with the Pinot Gris from J Vineyard, and Richard is going to get his fill of tannin and oak from an us yet unchosen Zinfandel. I like the new D-Cubed offerings or I might reach for the Ravenswood Teldeschi whose fruit is matched by its spice and oak richness. By the time, I tuck into the last bits of the stuffing and gravy, a glass of good Zin even suits my palate. And did I mention fruity Rosé?

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone. Thanks for checking in.


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To You Fine Sir
by Samantha Dugan
Posted on:11/24/2011 11:15:14 AM

Just came by to wish you and that onderful wife of yours a very happy Thanksgiving. You Fine Sir are one of my most beloved people and near the very top of my list of things I am thankful for. Much loves to you and Mrs. Olken today and always. Sam

by Bill Benswanger
Posted on:12/2/2011 3:29:32 PM

:...."HOARDS", Charlie?

Sounds like a case of antonymitis to me!

How about "hordes" (of people)  Hoards are for......



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