Wine: Tipples for turkey day
Giving thanks for wines and beyond
Soon the old question
will be asked — “What wine goes with turkey?”
tempted to say anything and everything, because it’s not the bird, it’s
how you cook it that determines the best vino. This year, how about
serving something other than wine or, even better, along with the wine?
first Thanksgiving had no wine or spirits, not even hard cider. It was
held in October after the first Pilgrim harvest was in. They ate fowl,
deer, corn and something called furmenty, which is a pudding-like cream
of wheat, flavored with fresh cream, eggs and brown sugar.
like the idea of having one dessert for Thanksgiving. Having too many
pies gets complicated and this pudding would go well with port or maybe
a nice ice wine.
There’s a new ice wine from Canada available. It’s called Neige. It’s
made from apples left on the tree until after the first snowfall. Apples
are heartier than grapes and can stand more freeze time to concentrate
their juice and flavor. The semi-frozen apples get picked, turned into
cider and then fermented. After three weeks, the people at La Face
Cachée de la Pomme, in Hemmingsford, Quebec, filter the juice and bottle
it. Canadian wine laws govern the alcohol content of ice wines and
they’re followed as closely as possible with their orchard cousin’s ice
wine. This is a wine to sip and savor; it tastes like cold apple pie
with a bit of rum flavor. Neige is a deep golden color and smells of
cider with a kick.
Face Cachée de la Pomme Cidery, which translated means “the hidden face
of the apple,” is 10 miles north of the New York Border and easy to get
to from route I-87. The winery is owned by a documentary filmmaker with
a flair for entertaining, which makes the Cidery fun to visit. And you
get a chance to taste and buy the products.
of the best things about Neige is its price; $24.99 for a 375-milliliter
bottle. This is a bargain when you compare it to the Niagara Peninsula
ice wines, where the typical price starts at $35. At Neige’s price one
could be a little daring and open the bottle for Aunt Evelyn, before
dinner, as the wine will pair well with creamy cheeses, crackers and
breads. Avoid serving sweet wines with shrimp cocktail, as I learned one
It’s strange to think that after that first Thanksgiving the Pilgrims
didn’t host another one. They weren’t into ostentatious celebrations.
Before the Revolution, American society had a decidedly secular tone and
feast days just weren’t needed for a good party.
wasn’t until 1863, when Lincoln proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for the
third Thursday in November, that the day became an annual event.
Thanksgivings had been sporadic before that and usually were proclaimed
to honor an event – like the one in October 1777 that celebrated the
American victory at the Battle of Saratoga.
We’d recognize some of the things Victorians ate at Thanksgiving, but
there were few fresh salads, few green vegetables and no Jell-O. There
were fish, fowl, roast, cheeses, figs, nuts soups (either turtle or
squash) and stuffings of all kinds. This was easy to make since bread
was a Victorian staple and the frugal cook could put all the leftover
odds and ends into the mix.
like a nice Riesling with my stuffing. The crisp acidity and lightly
sweet finish goes hand in hand with the sage. And for this most American
holiday, I’d choose a nice domestic one.
Hogue Cellars Riesling, $8.99, from southern Washington State, is
inexpensive and easy to sip. Lacking the structure of the higher-end
imported Rieslings, Hogue more than makes up for it with the way it
blends with food. Once only paired with spicy Asian cuisine, now
Riesling complements any spicy hot or spicy fragrant food.
Here’s a piece of advice: however you do your Thanksgiving, there’ll be
some hits and some misses. Like the loaf of homemade bread I attempted
that came out as a hard as a curling stone, or Artillery Punch, a tea,
whiskey, rum, red wine, lemon and orange juice concoction that was so
strong we napped before dinner and finally got to the table around 10
the bright side I’ve had some yummy zinfandels and great cabernets:
Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $34.99, bone dry but
riddled with fruit.
Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel, $36.99, spice and eternal sunshine in
every sip, from California,
2002 Charles Krug Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon, $55, a Napa wine
so refined and continental you’d swear it spent some time in a Swiss
2002 Domaine Drouhin Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, $37.99, old-school
Burgundy tradition meets the Deadhead artisans of Oregon; layered and
lean like a greyhound with a thin stiletto-like dried cherry fruit
if you’re in the kitchen like me, treat yourself to a soothing
after-dinner drink that’s smooth and gentle, like a Toasted Almond:
Pour over ice in a highball glass, then fill with milk, cream or half