In 1621 the Plymouth settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season. Autumn or early winter feasts continued sporadically in later years, first as an impromptu religious observance, and later as a civil tradition. Squanto, a Catholic Patuxet Native American who resided with the Wampanoag tribe, taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel and grow corn and served as an interpreter for them. Squanto had learned English during his enslavement in England. The Wampanoag leader Massasoit had given food to the colonists during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient.
Since then the holiday has become one in which family and friends get together to enjoy a great meal and each other’s company. It is a wonderful easy holiday that North Americans all hold as one of our favorites. It is a time for us to be thankful for the wonderful bounty and blessings we have received.
Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented the President of the United States with one live turkey and two dressed turkeys, in a ceremony known as the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. John F. Kennedy was the first president reported to spare the turkey given to him (he announced he didn’t plan to eat the bird), and Ronald Reagan was the first to grant the turkey a presidential pardon, which he jokingly presented to his 1987 turkey (a turkey that would indeed be spared and sent to a petting zoo).
What wines to serve with our great bird has became quite a controversy. Different wine and food experts do not agree and change their minds about what to serve and I change my mind every year. This year I am suggesting two reds and two whites. The great Italian welcome wine Prosecco. This year’s choice is Botter. It is a well made DOC wine that normally sells for $9.99. Total Wines sells it for $7.99 and it is currently selling it as a store opening special in Milford for $5.99. I would suggest you buy a case. It is refreshing and low in alcohol and is loved by all. It is soft and delicate and a real treat. I would follow that up with the great Wente family Morning Fog buttery and oaky Chardonnay. This will match quite well with white meat and mashed potatoes and squash and gravy and many wonderful side dishes. I would then bring out a big Zinfandel. There are many favorites and the ones I would love to have you try are 7 Deadly Zins at about $15.00 is a great treat and one of the biggest smokiest zinfandel is Cigar Zin. Great match with smoky dark meat and those family members who insist on a big drum stick. This Old Vine Zinfandel is spectacular! It is an unapologetic, big bold wine packed with blackberry and spice and very absent of compromise. It costs about 30 bucks and tastes like a hundred dollar wine. God Bless you and your family and enjoy your holiday and these wonderful wines. You will be glad you did!
P.S. Due to an ugly infection I was knocked out of my normal routine for almost a month. I missed a couple of deadlines and received several emails and kind comments and got yelled at a lot at the Orange reclamation center. “Hey knock it off and get well. I need to know what wine to bring to my son’s house.” Thank you for being missed! Ray
Ray Spaziani is the Chapter Director of the New Haven Chapter of the American Wine Society. He teaches wine appreciation classes at Gateway comommunity College, and the Milford Board of Education as well as Moltose wine and beer making suppliers and is a member of the International Tasting Panel of Amenti Del Vino and Wine Maker Magazine. He is an award winning home wine maker. Email Ray with your wine questions and wine events at email@example.com.