Kurt's Blog

Thanksgiving – A Time for Family, Food and Good Wine

For me, what is most special about the Thanksgiving holiday season is the tradition of coming together for a celebration of cooking, laughter, and sharing in our familial traditions that include eating copious amounts of food and afterwards engaging in a game of football.   

Thanksgiving day is a rare and special occasion in that we make time to cook from scratch and linger at the table engrossed in conversation while ignoring our smart phones.  It is a haven of refuge amid the turmoil of our frenetic lives as we recall what it truly important – family, shared values and our faith.

While the cast slowly but surely evolves through birth, marriage, aging, and even death, we continue as a family and in our rituals.  It is these rituals that provide us with an unmistakable connection to our familial heritage.

Our own personal rituals include the same Thanksgiving menu year after year, the time we eat, watching/playing football after the men clean up because the women cooked, and fortunately for me, my family trusting my judgment in what wines to pair with our meal.

The following are my traditional Thanksgiving selections:

While cooking it is our family’s tradition to begin with a taste of sparkling wine – We lean towards an Italian Prosecco or Californian Moet Chandon.     It helps quench the thirst of the busy cooks and enlivens the celebatory atmosphere.

Because some of us prefer Old World wines while others lean towards the New World, with Turkey and all the fixings we open both a Pinot Noir from Oregon as well as a French Bordeaux.   Both are lighter in body and softer on the palate and a perfect compliment to our dinner.  For those who prefer white we also have available a dry German Riesling which matches well with the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Dessert is my favorite aspect of the meal so will have to try all three of the pies – Chocolate, Pumpkin and Pecan.   To match all three I usually compromise by selecting a medium sweet dessert wine.   A Tokaji from Hungary is my wine of choice.   If our family has received an extra measure of blessing during the year we may also give thanks by opening an ice wine – maybe a Cabernet Franc from the Canadian Niagara Pennisula or a German Riesling Eiswein.   It serves as a perfect ending to a perfect day.

*Kurt Senske is the author of Wine and the Word:  Savor & Serve.