Wine Geek Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!

I know this year looks pretty different for a lot of us, and most of our celebrations are considerably scaled down from the usual thanks to the Zombie Apocalypse. Nonetheless, I hope you're finding ways to feast, share, feast, and find pockets of love and joy even if we're not with as many of our loved ones as we might want to be. (On the other hand, maybe you're being saved some awkward conversations with family members you don't speak to often and are just as happy to avoid. If so, then cheer for you!) For our part, we'll be celebrating with two friends we regularly pod-up with and the fours of us will be having a weekend of feasting. 

However, you're celebrating, if you're looking for pairing help for tomorrow, check out this Thanksgiving Pairing Guide Round-Up I put up last year. This year, I thought I'd start a tradition of sharing highlights from the previous year. This year, it's also serving as a nice trip down memory lane to think of family that's far away.

In normal times, we typically celebrate Thanksgiving with Greg's family, which is typically hosted by my sister-in-law Hillary, who always makes a parade-o-pies, which you can glimpse in the picture at the top. I will definitely miss gorging myself on those tomorrow. Next to the pies – and of course, the people – my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the smorgasbord of wines. There are a lot of wine geeks in the family, and many bring several bottles.  

Last year, my brother-in-law Dave (who is quite possibly responsible for sending me down the wine geek rabbit hole) and his wife Julia, hosted the event. It was a little smaller than usual, but it was a particularly nice holiday for me as my parents joined us as well. It's nice to be able to fall back on those memories now. 

Just a few memories from that weekend.

And here's a glimpse at the feast.

Turkey in the first 2, roasted delicate squash with cheese, bacon and pepitas, stuffing, herbed mushrooms, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots with nuts and crispy sage, and mushroom Wellington pockets. Dave and Julia made the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. My mom made the mushrooms. I made the squash, carrots, and Wellington pockets. Group effort!

Of course, with one of the bigger wine geeks in the family hosting, of course wine continued to be a big piece of the puzzle. 

These were the wines that kicked things off, and a good example of three styles that I think should always be candidates for the Thanksgiving table: sparkling, Chardonnay, and rosé. We had the Sommariva Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiane Superiore Brut DOCG (avg. price $17),  Hanzell Vineyards Sebella Chardonnay Sonoma Valley (avg. price $32), and the Hamel Family Wines Estate Rosé from Sonoma County. (Sorry, not sure of the vintage on the latter 2.) Chards tend to go really well with a roasted turkey with gravy, as well as a lot of the savory sides, and even quite a bit of lightly sweet sides like squash and carrots – the Hanzell is a beautiful example. Sparkling wines, in particular a fruity style like this Prosecco Superiore DOCG, and rosés are utlity players because they can both serve as aperitifs and they go well with all kinds of dishes on the table, often even sweeter,  hard to pair sides. 

Here was the rest of our Thanksgiving Day Line-Up from left to right: Miles 10 Year Old Rich Tinta Negra Madeira (sample),  Paul Jaboulet Aine Domaine de Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage 2015 (avg. price $40), Jean-Louis Dutraive Domaine de la Grand'Cour Fleurie 2015, Whitehall Lane Winery & Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (avg. price $39), Domaine de l'Amandine Côtes du Rhône Villages Seguret  (avg. price $17), Sandro Fay Ca Morei Valtellina Superiore Valgella DOCG 2015 (avg. price $29),  Derby Wine Estates Cabernet Franc Paso Robles 2012 (sample).

These were all lovely, but will just call out a few and the role I think they play at the table. 

Now as is often the case when family and friends are traveling in from various places, Thanksgiving was actually a multi-day affair. Several of those dinners had wines worth sharing for the holiday as well. 

Last year, we kicked off the first night of feasting with a dinner out with just Greg's and my parents at Mägo, one of our favorite restaurants here in Oakland. A lot of the dishes were Thanksgiving-esque , although turkey was kept out of the picture.

 I think we pretty much ordered everything available that night.
Top: Radicchio with wagon wheel cheese, pomegrante, and duck fat vinaigrette; Roasted young beets, persimmon mole, and buckwheat; Grilled skirt steak, honey nut squash, savoy cabbage, and walnut salsa.
Middle:  Sturgeon, Mt. rose potato, fig leaf, curry, and leeks; Nettle tortellini, heirloom beans, Szechuan and sofrito;  BBQ carrots couscous, brown butter, and black sesame sauce (always one of my favorites!). 
Bottom: Charred Brussels sprouts, black pepper, and miso caramel, bloody butchers Johnny cakes w. salted strawberry and radishes; Fried brown rice, hedgehog mushroom, and a farm egg.

To accompany this all we had the Arnot-Roberts Sonoma Coast Syrah 2016, which was sleek and elegant, with a mix of berry, pepper, and spice notes. In a way, it was like a New World version of that Crozes-Hermitage up above – it hits the spot for something a little bigger, but isn't too over-powering.

And finally, the day after Thanksgiving, we all met up again for leftovers + dumplings I'd made under the instruction of my friend Delia. 

Admittedly, they don't look so pretty in the pan, and I forgot to take a picture once at the table, but the dumplings sure were tasty. Our nephew gobbled up the lion's share!

For this round, we had several wines that would've also been great options.  

Ridge Vineyards Buchignani Ranch Zinfandel Santa Cruz County 2012, Domaine Faiveley Clos des Myglands Monopole Mercurey Premier Cru , Pax The Hermit Syrah North Coast 2015, and  Domaine Vincent Paris Cornas Granit 30 2015.

We'll leave it here for now before I get even more carried away. 

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!



Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!