Whelp, it's Thanksgiving!
For the last several days, everywhere I look in the news and everything I hear on the radio and everything I see on the TV includes tips and hints and tricks and strategies for preparing the “best turkey” ever. There are ethnically inspired dry-rubs for the bird, tamarind and cranberry glazes, recipes for braising and frying and roasting and smoking a turkey.
Y'all: It's just a big chicken. You've done this before. Just stick it in the oven until the internal temperature hits 165, take it out, let it rest and finish cooking, and then eat it. Season it however you like! Frankly, appeasing freshly-vegan Niece Julie and low-carb Uncle Bob and gluten-free Sister Annie are much bigger concerns. With all the sides and special orders you've got to fret over, the giant chicken should be the least of your concerns.
And, as with all things, this has got me thinking about wine.
Almost as much as the ridiculously varying turkey recipes, we are also inundated with information about which wines to offer our guests at the table: sparkling for aperitif, rose and pinot noir and beaujolais for the main course (depending on whom you ask), and rich syrah and zinfandel for dessert and football.
Y'all: It's just grape juice. You have your family to entertain, plenty of food to worry over, and very important football to watch; stop worrying about the wine!
No, seriously: stop worrying about the wine!
In terms of the Thanksgiving holiday and the spirit of celebrating the rich bounty of the Earth and the gift of her harvest, any wine fits the spirit of the occasion.
Wine is bottled sunlight, filtered through the humble grape and vine, distilled in water with the spirit and character of the fruit, the place, the farmer, the winemaker, and the passage of time. It is the glorious combination of the gifts of nature, the skill and care of the winemaker, and the sharing of liquid poetry with our family, loved ones, neighbors, and community over a table filled with family recipes and the sharing of love and stories across generations. (Yeah: I get a little romantic about wine)
If you are striving to provide the most comprehensively epicurean experience at your Thanksgiving table this year, and are unversed in the art of pairing wine with food, come on down to the shop with your menu and we'll hook you up. We're trained experts. If perfect pairing and awe-inspiring “oohs” and “aahs” from your guests are what you're after, we are happy to oblige.
But, again: It's just grape juice, y'all. Every bottle of wine is a true celebration of the harvest and the bounty of Earth, and every bottle of wine is designed to be shared with those you love. That's what wine is all about: pairing the sensory experience with the moment at hand, with respect to the years and years of work and lineage to create that simple bottle on your table. It's not meant to stress you out, but to bring calm and satisfaction. And we could all use a little calm with extra folks in the house hovering in the kitchen and telling us how to cook that giant chicken.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!