Thanksgiving is definitely one of my most favorite holidays – maybe because it is so centered on the food. Of course it is about families and friends getting together, and giving thanks for many many things which comprise our lives – we all have a lot to be thankful for. Nevertheless, the food on Thanksgiving is essential, it is a canvas of gathering, and even more importantly so if you are hosting the gathering.
For many years we visited our close friends to celebrate Thanksgiving together with them. This year we are hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our house, which gave me a pleasure of doing a boatload of cooking, and – I’m sure you expected that – to select the wines for the dinner.
Thanksgiving is a quintessential American holiday, so choosing to serve the American wines comes easy and logical. But then America is all about freedom, so of course, you can drink whatever you feel like, I’m just talking about my personal choices. About a month ago I visited Lodi region in California (my second trip there, after Wine Bloggers Conference back in August), and while I was tasting through the line of delicious wines at Bokisch Vineyards, it dawned on me – this year, we should celebrate Thanksgiving with wines from Lodi. Now, as it is almost time to get to the table, this is exactly what we are doing.
Lodi is somewhat under the radar (and believe me – I would love to keep it like that, for it to stay the best kept secret for a few oenophiles only), but totally unique and totally unexpected region, which produces unique and delicious wines. Lodi is a California appellation, yet it produces the world class wines absolute majority would never associate with California. Look at the wines I’m planning to open. Sangiovese Rosé from LangeTwins – yes, an Italian star, Sangiovese, right out of the Central California. Graciano from Bokisch Vineyards – yes, Graciano, the unique grape from Rioja in Spain – this was the wine which prompted this whole “Lodi Thanksgiving” idea. Or how about Borra Vineyards Heritage, a field blend (!) of Barbera, Carignane, Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet – here is another core Italian varietal, Barbera. I don’t have a Lodi white wine, this is where Turley White Coat should do, as it contains Grenache Blanc and Verdelho from Lodi. Unique grapes, unique and, most importantly, delicious wines – this is what makes Lodi wines such an easy choice for me.
The Thanksgiving dinner will include the infamous “3 in 1″ bird, the Turducken, and lots of the side dishes – you can see some of the key components in the picture below.
I have an ambitious plan to report on the dinner right after its completion – that might never happen, but I will try. By the way, do you care to guess what wine is hiding behind the wrap? Maybe name the grape, and maybe even the producer? How are you going to celebrate? With what wines? Is there a dish you are looking forward to making or, at least, eating? Happy Thanksgiving! Cheers!
What, you said, what Thanksgiving? We are counting days before Santa will get down the chimney, and this guy is talking about Thanksgiving? Well, yes, life gets in the way, and we have to simply deal with it – while we celebrated Thanksgiving about 10 days ago, I had no chance to write this post. As this blog also has a function of my personal journal, a life’s scrap book, if you will, I want to keep this little page in it, so here we go.
We have a long standing tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving with very close friends, pretty much a family, who live in Boston. We also share a passion for cooking, so our Thanksgiving dinners never become a routine – every time we need to come up with something else in terms of both main dish and sides. We’ve been through quite a few things in terms of Thanksgiving dinner – regular turkey, Turducken, smoked turkey – probably the only one we didn’t do yet is deep-fried turkey – we were advised against it as a project, as it involves some work which is actually better be left for professionals.
This year’s ideas was a stuffed turkey of sort, but most likely this is not what you think. The idea was to debone the turkey, leaving only legs and wings. Cut up most of the meat, leaving a layer of about half an inch with the skin. Removed meat then is ground and made into a stuffing with addition of spices, sauteed wild mushrooms with onions, matzo meal and previously fried bacon (large chunks). Then it is all stuffed back into the bird, which is been sewn and then roasted. Here are some of the pictures to illustrate what was happening (pictures are courtesy of my daughter).
Here is turkey ready to be stuffed ( we marinated it for about two hours prior):
The same with the addition of stuffing:
Finishing up the sewing:
Done! Better than new:
In the bag and in the roasting pot:
Now it is actually ready to eat:
In case you are curious, this is how it looked inside:
We had a few sides – sorry about the pictures, but we were actually ready to eat, so my jumping up and down with the camera in search of composition and the lighting were not welcomed – not for a little bit.
First, buckwheat with pine nuts, wild mushrooms and onions ( the same as went inside the turkey) and spicy Andalusian turkey sausage:
Roasted cauliflower with rosemary and pine nuts, covered with buttered Panko bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese (this is pretty much the whole recipe). The picture doesn’t do the justice to this dish, but it was tasty:
And then hazelnut-sage butter (stick of butter, cup of chopped hazelnuts and about a cup of whole sage leaves):
On top of roasted acorn squash ( again, this is practically the whole recipe):
Food was great, let’s talk about the wines. Been the wine guy as I am, I never try to exact the wine and food pairing for Thanksgiving – too many competing flavors, really hard to nail it. The best thing to do in my opinion is to chose middle of the road wines – nothing with super expressive taste, no fruit bombs, more of supple and round wines.
For the whites, in addition to Riesling which is not shown here, we had this two chardonnays:
I like Cono Sur wines – they deliver great QPR, and generally are pleasant. This 2011 Cono Sur Chardonnay Chile had a hint of vanilla on the nose, good white fruit on the palate with some hint of butter, good acidity, but overall may be a touch too sweet to my taste (still unquestionably quaffable). The 2010 Banknote Counterfeit Chardonnay Sonoma County was lighter than I expected – some distant hint of toasted oak and butter, but overall light wine, not very expressive. I wanted to check if this wine was unoaked, but the winemaker’s web site doesn’t even list this wine there. Clearly a counterfeit…
And here are the reds, at least some of them:
I previously talked about Beaujolais Nouveau, and I also shared my impressions of Tieare Imperiale CdP. 2011 Hahn Vineyards GSM Central Coast is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre. The wine showed a lot of plush fruit, very round and slick, but somehow it lacked the character for me – it was over-engineered, if such terminology can be used to describe the wine. But then I have to tell you – 2010 if you see kay Lazio IGT, the wine with the controversial label, was perfect. This wine, produced by Jayson Woodbridge, the winemaker behind very successful super-rich Hundred Acre Cabernet from California (plus many other successful wine projects), had perfect balance of all components – dark fruit, just the right amount of it, round supple tannins, touch of spices, coffee, and dark chocolate, refreshing acidity and lingering finish. This is definitely the wine to enjoy (in other words – get your bottle).
Before we are done here, I have to tell you about one more wine-related experience – visiting the wine store, to be precise. I found out by way of The Wellesley Wine Press, a blog I’m following, about quite unique wine store in the Boston area, called Bin Ends. As you can imagine from the name, many of the wines in the store come from the actual “bin ends”, last bottles of wines not sold in some other places. As my friends live in a very close proximity to this wine store, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit it – I spent about an hour there, just walking around and browsing somewhat small, but very interesting inventory. I picked up some of the interesting wines and looking forward to tasting them at some point:
By the way, very unusual for me – all the wines above are white.
There you have it, folks – the Thanksgiving experience. Have a great week and cheers!
Is it seriously Saturday again? Where did the whole week go? Okay, yes, Happy Saturday, folks – and it is time for the new quiz.
I was back and forth on the theme for this quiz. It is last Saturday before Thanksgiving, big holiday in US, and I really wanted to connect together the subject of Thanksgiving and wines in some meaningful way. It seems that everybody everywhere are talking about Thanksgiving wines, but none of that stuff is quiz-worthy.
Therefore, you will be faced with two completely unrelated questions, with one small exception – both relate to US history.
Let’s start with Thanksgiving question, which will be our Question 1. As you probably know (even if you don’t live in US), Thanksgiving is the holiday where we give thanks to our country and life in general with the abundance of food, wine, and families getting together. Traditions of celebrating Thanksgiving in US go all the way back to the first pilgrims, and based on the historical records, it was usually celebrated between September and November. For the long time, each US president would declare the date for Thanksgiving holiday for each year – until Thanksgiving holiday became fixed to the fourth Thursday in November. Do you know which president signed that bill into law?
A. Abraham Lincoln
B. Woodrow Wilson
C. Franklin D. Roosevelt
D. John F. Kennedy
And now, let’s switch to the Question 2, which will be again about people, but this time it will relate to the history of California wine. There were many people who greatly contributed into making California wine industry what it is today. Below is the list of people, all pioneers of California wine industry – and this list has specific logic behind it – with one name missing. Who do you think is missing in that list?
Georges de Latour
Please provide your answers in the comments section.
Have fun and good luck! Have a great weekend! Cheers!
As we set the plans to celebrate Thanksgiving next week, I want to share with you this post by SAHMmelier – we can all do something to share the holiday with those who needs it, even if it is a little bit…
At this time of year, many of us are rushing around, trying to decide on the perfect appetizer,on table settings and decor, and pairing wines that will fit the budget but still impress our guests. And some are trying to figure out where they will get their next meal. Or how to pay the electric bill. Or wishing they had an electric bill to pay. Between the destruction in the wake of the hurricane and the current unemployment across the country, the needs we see around us can be overwhelming. How can we help? How can we possibly make a difference when the need is everywhere and so much bigger than us?
Fourteen years ago, there was one man, in a dark place, with no home and very little in his pocket. He saw a family and recognized a need. A need he deemed greater than his, and he chose…
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It seems that the weeks are flying – I know that I prefer them at the crawling pace, but – not much I can do, right? Okay, let’s start with the answer to the Wine Quiz #35, What is missing. The wine quiz was dedicated to Tempranillo as we will celebrate tomorrow (November 8th) an International Tempranillo Day, and it was asking to fill the gaps in the group of numbers which were related to Tempranillo.
Of course it was obvious that the chain of numbers represented years. And both VinoinLove and thedrunkencyclist figured out that the years represented the best vintages of Rioja – however, they both only got one of the “best vintages” correctly. The 2001 was a great vintage, absolutely, but the vintage of the last century was 1964, not 1970. Here is the reference to the best Rioja vintages from the Vibrant Rioja web site, so you can check all the great vintages for yourself. We don’t have a winner this time, but hey, there is always a next time…
Now, I need your help with something. If you read the Meritage post from the last Wednesday, I mentioned that I’m fighting the writer’s block and trying to write a post for the wine blogging competition. So I managed to overcome the block and wrote the post (here is the link) – and if you like it, I need your vote! You can vote for it here – just scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the link to my blog there. Thank you!
Now, let’s proceed with “interesting stuff” part of the Metritage. First, the next three Thursdays, we will be celebrating different holidays – of course, they are drastically different in scale, but nevertheless, they all fall on Thursday. Tomorrow, November 8th, we are celebrating International Tempranillo Day. It is very easy to take part in the festivities – just find a bottle of Tempranillo wine (Rioja or Ribera del Duero from Spain, or may be some Texas wine?), pull the cork and enjoy (and if you really like it, write a blog post about it or tweet about it, or leave the comment in this blog).
The next Thursday, November 15th, is Beaujolais Nouveau 2012 Day. This year will actually mark 30th anniversary of the Beaujolais Nouveau celebration – you should definitely look for the festivities around you, and as usual, get a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau (I have to say that the wine had been steadily improving its quality over the past few years) and enjoy!
And then the Thursday after that, November 22 is…what, Thanksgiving is already here? Yep, Turkey day is arriving in mere two weeks. There is always a question of wines for the Thanksgiving celebration, so here is my post from the last year – I’m sure the actual wines will be different this year, but the ideas will be the same.
Last (but may be not least) – do you think wine reviews can get you sued? Here is the post by Steve Heimoff – if anything, it is an interesting read.
That’s all for today, folks – the glass is empty. Cheers!
Thanksgiving day – friends, family, lots of food and wines. Culinary delight is definite part of the holiday – every possible ( and impossible) web site is full of new recipes to try and recommendations on what to serve.
I would love to write the blog post right after the dinner – but this would be literally impossible, as desire to sleep after a big meal will interfere. Therefore, let me just share my quick expectations. The staple dish for tonight is turducken – chicken inside duck inside turkey, all de-boned, of course, except turkey legs and wings. That is already in the oven and holds a big promise of the tasty meal ( pictures and details – in the later posts). There will be a lot more of traditional fall flavors – squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes – all taking part in the feast.
Variety of flavors is expected of the food, and it is hard to tell which wine will work the best. Therefore, when in doubt – experiment! We plan to have Beaujolais Nouveau ( Joseph Drouhin), Barolo, Zinfandel and Claraval (Spanish red). Which one will pair the best? Hopefully one of the wines on the table. And if not – wine program for tonight also includes Rivesaltes 1936 and Bruichladdich 12 – expectations, expectations…
What will be on your table tonight?
Until later – Happy Thanksgiving!