Hippo Manchester
November 24, 2005


   Home Page

   Hippo Nashua

 News & Features


 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note





 Pop Culture



   Video Games
   CD Reviews




   Grazing Guide



   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts





 Find A Hippo




   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad




 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover

Wine: Tipples for turkey day

Giving thanks for wines and beyond

By Tim Protzman  tprotzman@hotmail.com

Soon the old question will be asked — “What wine goes with turkey?”

I’m 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?

The 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.

I 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.

La 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.

One 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 Thanksgiving.

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.

It 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.

I 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 p.m.

On 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 finishing school.

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 finish.

And 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:

½ shot Kahlua

½ shot Amaretto

Pour over ice in a highball glass, then fill with milk, cream or half and half.