Admittedly, everything I know about Thanksgiving is purely theoretical. Having grown up in the Philippines, the only things that come to me when someone mentions the holiday include turkey, loads of food, and family time.
This was why, when I was invited to this year’s Great American Thanksgiving Celebration, I decided to find out what the tradition was all about.
Historically, American Thanksgiving is celebrated every third Thursday of November. It started off as a Harvest Festival, or a means for the New England colonists to give thanks for agricultural blessings. The first recorded Thanksgiving meal was on October 1621, which was attended by Native Americans and Pilgrims.
Nowadays, Thanksgiving is considered part of the American fall-winter holidays (along with Christmas and New Year). It’s celebrated by volunteering to feed the homeless, religious service (for some communities), parades (the Macy’s Parade is pretty legendary), sports (the most famous being the NFL on Thanksgiving Day), television specials, a traditional presidential pardoning of turkeys (which I find really cute), and a monster turkey dinner with wine (naturally!).
Going back to the celebration held last 13 November 2018 in the historical Charles Parsons Ballroom of the U.S. Embassy Manila, however… It was a charming homage to the American Thanksgiving festivities in that there was a lot of delicious food (courtesy of a local hotel that’s very close to my heart, Diamond Hotel Philippines), including a delicious turkey carving station. I’m here, however, to talk about wine (despite the temptation to talk about the mouth-watering fare).
Here are some of my favourites from the wines served during the event, along with some food pairing recommendations for Thanksgiving dinner:
I’m a fan of the Russian River style. It’s one of the cooler wine producing regions of Sonoma County, famous for elegant Chardonnays and Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay is perfect for a warm day, or with light food (like the cranberry and ricotta crostini that was served).
Zinzilla Monstrous California Zinfandel
Part of the McNab Winery’s “Fun Bunch” portfolio, this funky looking bottle is very aptly named. It’s a monster of a wine, with its full body and fruit-forward, jammy flavours. If Thanksgiving dinner involves roast, this would be perfect.
Caricature Red Wine
A red wine blend (but clearly dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon), it hails from the Lodi wine region, which is famous for old Zinfandel vineyards and cool climate conditions (because of the Sacramento Delta and the San Francisco Bay breeze). I can imagine this matching a juicy USDA steak.
Beringer Pinot Grigio
I have to be honest: I didn’t have high hopes with this wine until I had it for myself. A rounder version of a typically Italian classic, it actually paired wonderfully with the fuller flavoured and textured canapés (especially the salmon).
Round Hill Merlot
I remember a fellow wino telling me that Round Hill Chardonnay is pretty good. During the event, however, the Merlot was served. I wasn’t disappointed: The ripe red fruit notes were balanced with dark chocolate undertones. Bonus: The winery is also famous for their sustainable farming practices. This is would make a good turkey wine.
Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay
The Chardonnay is lauded as the number one selling Chardonnay for 25 years, and is made out of grapes from California’s cooler wine regions: Medocino County, Santa Barbara County, and Monterey County. Personally, I’d pair this with grilled lobster that has a touch of butter for the sauce… Or, if I were feeling fancy, I’d watch TV (maybe the Macy’s Parade) and have this with a bowl of buttery popcorn.
Robert Mondavi Wines
I wrote about the winery (and Mr. Mondavi) in a previous article. It’s a no-fail winery, and admittedly, I like their Napa Range line (especially the Cabernet Sauvignon and Fumé Blanc). The intensely concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon is great with red meat dishes, and a younger vintage would even work well with a turkey leg. The Fumé Blanc is better with a turkey breast, and is also nice with plenty of vegetarian dishes.
Michael David Wines
The people behind the winery (responsible for Freakshow, Petite Petit, and other seemingly irreverent wines from Lodi) Mike and Dave Phillips (hence Michael David Wines) are the living embodiment of making wine rules (as opposed to simply breaking them). I fell in love with Freakshow from a previous event, and Petite Petit for this one (which I’d pair with barbecue).
Wines to Look Out For:
Unfortunately, as the event was held during lunch, I thought it best not to get too knackered (I’m all about trying to drink responsibly). This is why I made a mental note of what I’d try next time: Spellbound Wines (the packaging is a little mystical, and as far as I know, some of the wines go well with mac n cheese), and Camelot Wines (again, another food-friendly line).
I wondered about how I should end this article (apart from maybe some food and wine in a bit because writing this made me incredibly hungry) and thought that, despite Thanksgiving not being a Filipino holiday, it’s always a good idea to find something to be thankful for… Not just on the third Thursday of November, but everyday.
That said, Happy Thanksgiving to our family and friends in and from the United States. Cheers!
…And take it easy on Black Friday. 😉