Thanksgiving is America’s banquet. It’s one of the few completely American holidays, created from a history that only we share. It’s probably my favorite holiday of the year - I love all of the flavors and smells and the grand tradition of a large family meal. Everything feels more peaceful at Thanksgiving. It marks the end of a busy harvest season for me - a calm nostalgic pause before the inevitable commercial stress of the Christmas holidays. Indeed, any anxiety associated with Thanksgiving seems to be felt only by turkeys and that most elusive of domesticated beasts – the wine writer. I'm amazed at how many wine writers cite the Thanksgiving meal as the most difficult one to drink wine with. All the different flavors and sweetness levels can make it a wine pairing nightmare for the rigorously trained yet unimaginative sommelier. Of course, all of the so-called “wine rules” go out the window with the Thanksgiving meal – but that's the whole point. Thanksgiving is the meal where you can pour any wine you want and everyone will be happy. No pairing is ever wrong in my opinion but in this case, I find the cacophony of homespun flavors a profoundly satisfying combination. Whether it be a Nouveau, Chianti or Grandpa's special homemade dandelion wine, there's an almost preternatural ability of the Thanksgiving meal to blend and harmonize it all together.
There is however an even greater accord that can be reached through our grand banquet – the aromas and flavors of where we live. Cooking with local ingredients can sometimes be challenging but its almost always rewarding. And of course the pièce de résistance to make the meal complete is local wine on the table.
What better way to celebrate this uniquely American feast than with a uniquely American wine? Long Island wines are grown and produced on soils that were walked on by the contemporaries of the Plymouth Colony. The East End is home to some of the oldest continually cultivated land in the country, some of it dating from the 1640’s. In truth it goes back even further as large tracts of land were already cleared when the first settlers arrived in Southold. No other wine growing district in the country can boast of an older agricultural heritage. Our wines, made from this sacred soil, sing the song of North Fork life and breathe of the surrounding sea. Not only do our wines taste good, but in a way, they're also a part of the Thanksgiving story.
We all had something to complain about this past year, but when we sit down at the table, let’s be grateful for all we have this Thanksgiving. As for me, I love making wine and I'm going to celebrate with a few little things that I cooked up. I'm thinking the 2010 Bedell Chardonnay and 2010 Gewürztraminer for starters along with a preview of our new 2010 Syrah. Frankly I think its a perfect match.
And while you're planning your menus – here's a little tribute to our 2011 harvest season and all the people that work so hard to make such beautiful wines. Set to the seminal George Winston composition entitled, Thanksgiving.
I am thankful.