This Rhone red is bold and strong, in every respect – a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre and Cinsault. With a deep garnet hue, the intense aromas wafted up from the glass as I swirled, rich with smoke, leather, cassis, and a faint earthiness. The taste matched its aromas, filling my mouth with black currant, spice and smoldering graphite. There was a nice acidity to it that layered with the assertive tannins. The finish was pleasantly long, with spice and mineral. I thoroughly enjoyed this wine with a rich beef stew and peppered bread, in front of a crackling fire – it paired with the food and ambiance perfectly.
Thanksgiving can mean so many things to different people. For me, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the many blessings I’ve had in my life, not just during the past year. It is a time to publicly thank God for his amazing provision, and for holding me up during life’s most difficult times. It is also a time for tradition – like that Norman Rockwell turkey that we’ve all seen, being gracefully placed on the table of an admiring, happy family.
For the record, my family looks, and behaves, nothing like that famous scene.
Our family tradition? Well, the day usually starts off with at least one person having a screaming headache and needing to lie down while the others get to work on the day’s obligatory foods. My father gets up in the wee hours of the morning to put the mega-bird in the oven, and by dawn he’s tired, stressed out and just a bit on edge, so you’ll want to stay out of his way – either that or let him get his shot in early, so that you can move forward with the day knowing exactly where you stand. As the old bird does its thing (the turkey, not my father), potatoes are mashed, candied sweet potatoes are drawing in their sticky goodness, the table is being set, and everyone is showing up, stomachs rumbling, waiting for the games to begin. The last order of business is always the gravy – that moment of supreme tension, hoping that it isn’t too thin, or too thick, or too greasy, or lumpy – because if it was any of those things the entire meal would be ruined and we’d having nothing to be thankful for (yes, please do roll your eyes with me, and share in my sarcasm).
At this point you’re probably asking yourself what these ramblings have to do with wine – right?
Well, everything. And no, this is not about what to pair with turkey, or how great (or not) a particular wine tasted. This is about the moment. I’ve learned that wine is not about selecting a wine for a special event, or holiday, or meal. Wine is about choosing to turn the day into a special moment. My contribution to the day was more than peeling potatoes, or mixing the salad, or even baking a pie ahead of time. My gift to the holiday – to my family – was bringing wines that would turn another holiday that we so often take for granted, into a special time to fill your senses with new aromas and flavors, and just maybe, make a new memory.
When the wine was opened, I poured my mother the very first tasting, and waited as she took a sip. She actually stopped for a moment and thought about what she was tasting. This was amazing to me, since I don’t come from a long line of sensitive or even remotely trained palates. But when my mother rendered her verdict I was thrilled. She stated, in no uncertain terms, “I like it.” She went on to say tell me that she liked that the wine wasn’t too fruity, and was even on the spicy side. I was amazed at my mother’s comments – in a good way. On the heels of my mother’s approval, others at the table chimed in with their comments. And the table started to buzz about the interesting flavors in the wine, how the deep currant notes played well with the flavors in the cranberry orange chutney, how the balsamic vinegar in the salad seemed more lively after a sip of the wine, how one person really preferred beer, and the list went on. The wine turned the meal into its own unique experience for each person at the table, and let the conversation drift away from the question of “you know who died?” and toward the topics of wine, life, memories and senses. I thought that perhaps I’d gone too far with my wine experience when my father started singing “a fair is a veritable schmorgasbord….orgasbord….orgasbord”, and doing his best impression of Templeton the Rat, from Charlotte’s Web fame, while “sloshing” around in his chair. You could have heard a pin drop in the dining room at that point, and then, as if on cue, everyone laughed and the chatter started all over again.
I am so very thankful for the memories of this Thanksgiving. The gift of wine gave me more than a wine experience. The gift of wine gave me, and everyone at the table, a moment to cherish for the rest of our lives.
I hope that your Thanksgiving was filled with many blessings, and many moments of joy to remember and cherish.
Do you know what today is?
Thursday? Yes, but what else?
It’s Beaujolais Nouveau Day!
I have been looking forward to today for quite some time. And WHY you might ask? Because Beaujolais Nouveau is a taste of the last bit of summer that just slipped below the horizon. This year’s wine is particularly special because the grape yield in the Beaujolais region was low. Let’s face it, 2012 was a difficult year all around – even if you aren’t a grape…or a vintner.
I opened my bottle with great anticipation – perhaps, in part, because of the fanfare of the day – the ritual – the idea that this is the wine that officially heralds the 2012 vintage to the world . I poured my taste and stared into the purply-red color of this wine, jewel-like and beautiful. The aromas were very nice, filled with red fruit and plum, and a hint of spiced peach. The flavors matched the aromas very well, and the youthful tannins, although pronounced, danced well with the light acidity. This wine went amazingly well with my dinner of seared pork medallions and apple-cranberry compote. I know that I will enjoy this wine throughout the holiday season, with friends and family. And when my stash is exhausted, I can look forward to what next year’s vintage will bring.