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HAPPY THANKSGIVING! IT’S TIME TO GIVE THANKS AND ENJOY FOOD AND WINE!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It is one of my favorite days of the year. Traditionally, it was a time to give thanks for the harvest. Today the Thanksgiving holiday is a time to give thanks and appreciation for all the things with which we are blessed. For my family, and many others, it has also been a time to get together and celebrate with a Thanksgiving feast. For us, that is a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner. This traditional dinner, which Laurie and I have been doing every year since we were married in 1967, is my favorite meal of the year. It includes roast turkey and many other dishes. We have cooked turkey every way imaginable: roasted with low heat, roasted with high heat, and roasted in a bag; barbecued; smoked; deep-fried; and on the rotisserie.

But, for us, the best way to cook a turkey is on the rotisserie. This produces a bird with gorgeous crisp brown skin and succulent, moist tender meat. We also do a traditional cornbread stuffing made from scratch, cranberry sauce with orange zest (tip: if you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, buy their fresh cranberry and orange relish which comes refrigerated. It is as good as any you can make.), sweet potatoes and apples sliced and roasted in the oven with a bit of brown sugar and butter, parsnips and Brussels sprouts roasted in butter and a bit of brown sugar with lots of fresh rosemary, green beans boiled with onion and apple smoked bacon, mashed potatoes either with or without celery root, homemade gravy from the turkey pan drippings, and biscuits. For dessert, it is pumpkin pie (another hint: if you are a Costco shopper try their fresh baked pumpkin pie. It is a large pie, very inexpensive, and delicious. They also have fresh-baked apple and pecan pies that are really good).

But before we sit down to dinner, we also have a few nibbles which include fresh roasted nuts, olives, and celery stuffed with cream cheese that has been blended with fresh roasted red peppers.

And, as for the wines, with our hors d’oeuvres we typically have sparkling wine to which a few cherries preserved in liqueur are added. This makes a delicious drink and is very festive. With the Thanksgiving meal we have tried virtually every kind of wine, but have settled on a few that seem to work the best and also please everyone. These are usually Beaujolais and Rosé. This year will be the delicious 2009 Beaujolais (we have reviewed many of these over the past few months and I strongly urge you to give several of them a try) and 2009 Rosé from Tavel and a few others from the Rhône Valley (again we have reviewed many of these Rosés over the past few months and you can check our articles for favorite wines). The intense fruit of all these wines goes perfectly with the sweet, tart, savory flavors of the various dishes. The wines are balanced and easy to drink and complement rather than overpower the food. We like to serve several different wines so there are choices. The Rosés are best chilled and the Beaujolais should also be served with a slight chill. And, to keep with the national theme of Thanksgiving, I’ll usually serve a Zinfandel (a wine unique to the U.S.). It is almost always one from Ridge Vineyards. This year it will be a Ridge Vineyards 2001 Geyserville (which is Zinfandel from the Geyserville Vineyard in a field blend with Carignane and Petite Sirah). This wine has lots of fruit and flavor and is rich without being overpowering.

So to all of you Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appétit!

In Vino Veritas,

John Tilson