Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.
When my brother-in-law was visiting in November a few years ago we were shopping in Bunratty when the lady serving us said to him ‘Happy Christmas’ to which he replied ‘have I missed Thanksgiving?’
Thanksgiving arrives just one month before Christmas. I have often been asked what exactly Thanksgiving means to Americans, and being a New Englander and growing up just down the road from where the Pilgrims first arrived from England, (America’s first immigrants?) I feel well positioned to answer the question. As I write this, tomorrow is the fourth Thursday of November, Thanksgiving Day.
The first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Massachusetts in 1621 to celebrate a good harvest. The celebrants had arrived the previous year to escape religious persecution in England. They first dropped anchor at the tip of Cape Cod where I grew up, but then moved further up the coast to Plymouth where you can view the famous rock where they first set foot before building their settlement and where you also can board a wonderful replica of the Mayflower, the ship they arrived on after a difficult journey across the Atlantic. The celebration was shared by the settlers and the local Wampanoag natives and included turkey, seafood, pumpkin, squash and berries. Today’s feast typically but not exclusively features turkey, squash, cornbread, cranberries grown on the bogs of Cape Cod, and of course pumpkin pie.
In the past Thanksgiving was observed on different days in the various states. It was President Abraham Lincoln who in 1863 decreed that all states celebrate on the same day. Today Thanksgiving is all about getting together with the extended family for a generous meal to give thanks for all that is good in life. Presents are not exchanged, which adds to the more relaxed atmosphere of Thanksgiving compared to Christmas.
When I was small boy in a large family, we were allowed a small glass of red wine with our special dinner. Perhaps the beginnings of my affinity for fine wine? As for food matching, since the traditional meal is similar to the typical Christmas dinner the following wines would enhance both meals. Do keep in mind that the only real rule is that you pick a special wine for the occasion, be it Thanksgiving or Christmas, and enjoy!
Meadowhawk California Zinfandel, Lodi. Aldi, €12. Classy wine and a real bargain.
Cupcake California Chardonnay. €15, M&S. Delicious peachy white, great with the special dinner.
Jean Bouchard Montagny Premier Cru, Aldi, €17. Classic white Burgundy for the traditionalists!
Chateau Deyrem Valentin Margaux, 2011, Lidl, €23. For those who believe it just has to be a fine claret.