Thanksgiving: Family, Food, Fellowship and Fahrvergnuegen

Although I had initially hoped for a quiet Thanksgiving at home, family duty rose to the fore and quickly banished all thoughts of staying put.

Don’t misunderstand me: I love my family. But because of circumstances at work, I had only the one day off. So when we got the almost last-minute call to attend a family gathering …. It was a fair amount of driving and so forth all in one day. Could we have begged off? Sure. But not really. Know what I mean?

Luckily, the crew had mercy on us. We didn’t have to cook anything for the festivities. And, of course, it was awesome to see everyone and catch up in person. For the gathering we had many traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, corn, salad, and pies galore. Seriously, there was one pie to every two people. The only thing slightly non-traditional was the choice of wine. Not that it was way out in left field.

IMG_20171123_114032950~2Winemaker: Trader Joe’s
Varietal: Petit Verdot
Vintage: 2014
Appellation: Paso Robles, CA
Price: $9.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: The Trader Joe’s Petit Verdot was dark in the glass with scents of berries, meat and forest floor. It was medium-bodied with good acidity and tannins on the lighter side of medium. The flavor profile included menthol, black cherry, baking spices, pepper, and a touch of rubber. I thought it was pretty good. Perhaps a heartier selection than the average turkey day glass, but everyone was going back for seconds. I know I did.

Clos du Bois Shiraz 2012

Thanksgiving was an all day affair in my house this year.  That was basically because work was so hectic – they kept me working until late the night before – that we did pretty much all the cooking on Thanksgiving Day.  The only dish done prior was our homemade cranberry sauce!

All tolled, the dinner was a big success.  Being in an adventurous frame of mind this year, we decided to try out several new recipes.  Every single one of those extremely tasty, successful recipes took longer than the instructions said they would!  Luckily it was just our family, so we didn’t have to worry about hungry guests waiting for the slow cooks to get their act together.  We at late, but we ate well.  Keeping the adventure going, we decided to throw our wine choice to the fates.  We had two red wines in the rack, so we tossed a coin.  It was heads!  And that’s how I ended up having a Clos du Bois Shiraz with my Thanksgiving meal.

Winemaker:  Clos du Bois
Varietal:  Shiraz
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:   North Coast, CA
Price:  $16.49

Notes:  The color of this Clos du Bois was a dark purple.  The bouquet held scents of berries and menthol.  It was a medium-bodied wine with good acidity and medium tannins.  Alcohol was at 13.5%.  Flavors I found were dark berries, plum, a distinctive leather note throughout, and menthol on the finish.  It was what I’d call a friendly and approachable wine with some fun complexity to boot.  I wouldn’t normally have paired a Shiraz with my turkey, but we were being a little daring.  This time, at least, it worked out just fine.

The other wine was a more traditional choice – a Pinot Noir.  Guess I can have that with the leftovers!



This Thanksgiving: Some Things Old and Some Things New

This Thanksgiving was a quiet one for me.  I stayed home and co-produced a meal.  I’m not much of a cook.  I prefer to ask what’s for dinner and then go find the right wine for the job.  But this year I got to experiment.

First, we decided to buck the turkey trend and go with pork as a main dish.  That was because I suggested a quasi-southern theme for this Thanksgiving.  As I’ve mentioned before, my parents were both from Tennessee.  I know what it means to have a southern Thanksgiving.

Since it was a co-production, there were some negotiations that had to be completed before we came up with a menu for the day.  We decided on a bone-in pork loin, dressing (not cornbread – a concession on my part, lol), cranberry sauce, fried okra, mustard greens, mixed green salad, and a multigrain loaf of bread on the side.  I agreed/negotiated to prepare the okra, greens and cranberry sauce as well as select the wine.

I had never made fried okra or mustard greens before.  I have loved both dishes since I was knee high to a grasshopper, but I’d never tried making them myself.  Therefore, I hit the internet and looked up some recipes.  I am not a cook, but I can follow recipes – usually.  You shouldn’t be surprised that I found my fried okra recipe at Southern Living magazine.  In addition, I added a sweet chile sauce which was part of one of the okra recipes in Food & Wine for okra dipping.  For the mustard greens I tried an approach available from a site called Simply Recipes.  Cranberry sauce I have made before.  Still, I followed a cranberry sauce recipe that I have used successfully in the past from a web site called while adding orange zest and spices to give it some personal flair.  And, as promised, I chose a wine for the dinner.  I went with a Pinot Noir because I have found PNs to be very good at Thanksgiving in the past.  In addition, I’ve enjoyed them with pork chops and pork roasts on prior occasions.  But, in the spirit of exploration, I chose to try a Pinot that I’ve never had before.  What a risk taker I can be!  Ha!!

I won’t comment on the dishes I didn’t prepare because that wouldn’t be fair.  I will say the dinner was a rousing success.  The cranberry sauce was – once again – very nice.  It’s the perfect dish for me to prepare – really, really, really simple and straightforward.  I always worry about whether it will thicken.  This time I made it the night before, and it thickened nicely in the refrigerator overnight.  The mustard greens were pretty good, too.  The fried okra (the dish that actually inspired this Thanksgiving menu) was also darned tasty although a little clumpy due to my lack of a slotted spoon.  Having the right tools for the job is important.  The dipping sauce for the okra was fine if maybe a bit sweet for my taste buds.  And, finally, the wine …

Vineyard: Bubo
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: California
Price: $9.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  The bouquet on this budget Pinot Noir was quite fragrant and on the pour wafted to the nose redolent with strawberry and a light earthiness.  Color in the glass was a pretty ruby red.  The body of this Bubo selection was light, acidity was very nice, and the tannins gave a light bite on the finish.  Alcohol was at 13.5%.  The flavors I found in this pretty California glass of wine centered around a core of strawberry – young strawberry.  In addition there were notes of earth and strawberry leaf with some pepper on the quick finish.  I found it a fun glass of wine – somewhat tart but not at all bitter.  I think this could be a pleasant inexpensive glass of vino to just sip before dinner over light hors d’oeuvres.  It also complemented the pork we had quite well. It wasn’t as good, however, when mixing with the sweet and savory glaze (apple cider, brown mustard, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, etc.) covering the pork.  But you live and learn, and half the fun is in the exploration of things previously unknown.