When I was growing up, my family’s Thanksgiving tradition was to escape to a secluded cabin somewhere in the wooded hills in or around Oklahoma. After a morning hike, Dad would deep-fry the turkey, Mom would be busy in the kitchen, and my sister and I would curl up under a blanket, put on a movie, and pop open a bottle of sparkling cider. When I moved out of my parent’s home at 18 to attend college, I was quickly integrated into another Thanksgiving tradition with my dad’s family in Florida; for the past 7 years I have celebrated with my boisterous, charismatic, and very Greek and Italian family members (along with their extended family, friends, and neighbors). Although wine, beer, and sangria have replaced sparkling cider as the drink of choice, I’ll never forget the way that the presence of that bottle made my sister and me feel. We felt special, completely in charge of the faux adult life that we were so eager to emerge ourselves in. The foil wrapped bottle of carbonated grape juice enhanced our excitement then, and still enhances my memories now. Really, that’s what wine is all about: the enrichment of the memories that you make before, during, and after consumption. A bottle of wine can play an integral role in a special occasion, especially if it is served with the perfect meal. Pairing delicious food with the right wine can be a pretty intimidating task, especially for a meal as significant and diversely prepared as Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re struggling with deciding which bottle will go with the enormous spread taking over your kitchen tonight, you needn’t panic; the French have it all figured out…and they sent hundreds of thousands of bottles your way just last week.
The accompaniment that your feast awaits is Beaujolais Nouveau. This is a young, fruity red that is released the third Thursday of every November in Burgundy, France. What started out as a local village favorite, Beaujolais Nouveau gained popularity around the world after World War II, and now boasts extensive marketing and extravagant parties in honor of its annual release. Before the marked day, the Gamay grape is harvested throughout all of Beaujolais, quickly fermented, and bottled in time for mass production and intake just a few short weeks later. The resulting wines are star bright (reflection of wine within the glass is extremely bright) and magenta in color, both of which are signs of youth. They are not exactly complex or known to be of exceptional quality, but are intended to be enjoyed in large quantities rather than painstakingly evaluated sip by sip. Slight acidity, refreshing fruits, and easy drinkability ensure that this wine will be a perfect match to your turkey and all of the good stuff on the side. Not to mention the fact that you really can’t beat an average price of $10 a bottle. The low costs might even allow you to do your own tasting, like my close friend Ciera and I did tonight.
(For the record, we both preferred the Henry Fessy to the Jean-Claude Debeaune)
Here’s to everyone having a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Prost!!