Thanksgiving, truth be told, is the best holiday. You don’t have to worry about giving gifts, there is usually a pretty good meal involved, and the amount of time you have to spend with your family is clearly defined.
There are a few aspects of Thanksgiving that are completely wrong, though. Some gross violations that I feel the need to address since, well, I am going “bottom shelf” this year.
The first is without a doubt the worst side ever served at any Thanksgiving, ever: sweet potatoes/yams (by the way, what the h-e-double hockey sticks is the difference?). Now I know some of you out there are ready to jump to the defense of the yam, but I am not talking about the orange spud per se but rather the way that it is served for Thanksgiving.
Are you kidding? The marshmallow might be the single dumbest food on the planet. When is the last time anyone said: “You know what? I could really go for a few marshmallows right about now!”
If you limit the question to people who are above the age of four, the answer is easy: never.
Yet there they are, in their mini-conical shape, on top of an oddly colored food, slathered with either brown sugar or maple syrup. Yeesh.
In my mind marshmallows exist for only one purpose: to be heated, almost to the point of burning, paired with a bit of chocolate bar, and squeezed between two graham crackers, preferably near a campfire. And if you ever eat more than one such concoction, you are either four years old (or under) or in serious need of counseling.
[By the way, my mother-in-law loves sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving, and her rendition is actually quite good, despite the marshmallows.]
The second Thanksgiving tradition that needs to go away is the Detroit Lions. Not just their traditional Thanksgiving Day game, but the entire franchise. The Lions have been around forever, and they were apparently good at some point, but since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 (that’s nearly 50 years for the math-averse), the Lions have appeared in exactly one NFC Championship game.
That was in 1991.
And they lost 41-10.
Growing up in Detroit, it seemed as though there were two Thanksgiving constants: dry turkey and the Lions losing. I was surprised to see, when doing a little research for this article, that the Lions are close to .500 on Thanksgiving (they are 24-25 since 1970), but it seemed like they always lost.
The third Thanksgiving “tradition” that needs to die? I think I can speak for just about anyone who has moved away from “home” that there is a rather deep-rooted double standard when it comes to Thanksgiving. As the one that both moved away and was the last to get married and have children, I was always expected to come home for Thanksgiving.
And I understood that I guess. I either lived in an apartment, had roommates, or both during those days, so for me hosting a Thanksgiving made no sense. But once married, with children, and what could be genuinely declared “a life” we were still expected to trek across the country, back to Detroit for Thanksgiving (and forced to watch the hapless Lions).
And for years we did just that.
When we offered to have all or some of the family visit us for Thanksgiving, however? We were met with a cacophony of cop-outs: “But we always have Thanksgiving here.” “What would we do with the dog?” And the best two: “But traveling during Thanksgiving is such a pain.” “It is just too expensive to fly during Thanksgiving.”
Funny, those last two were never a consideration when we were doing the travel.
Regardless of where you will be tomorrow, there will likely be others who expect you to bring some “killer” wines for the meal.
My advice? Don’t be a moron: bring some inexpensive wines since most of it will end up going down the drain. Still, it should be palatable since you are going to have to drink it too (the hiding the good bottle for yourself while serving up plonk to the rest does not work–trust me).
A few days ago, I went to my local grocery store and surfed the bottom two shelves in search of Thanksgiving wines under $15. Here are a rosé and a few reds (that I actually paid for myself) that I would be happy to see on any Thanksgiving table. Yesterday, I covered a sparkler and a couple of whites.
2019 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé: Retail $10. 100% Gamay. This is only the second vintage that Nouveau rosé has been able to be produced and my immediate question is: What took so long?!? Fruity with oodles of bubblegum on the nose. The palate is fruity and delicious. This is the first wine made by Georges’ grandson, Aurélian, and if this is any indication, he has a bright future in the wine business. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 Pedroncelli Zinfandel Mother Clone Dry Creek Valley: Retail $19. Sure, this is slightly over my threshold, but I have seen it all over the place at or below fifteen bucks. And even at $20, it is one of the best Zins out there. In 1980, the Pedroncelli’s took cuttings from the original ranch purchased by John Pedroncelli, Sr. in 1927, which had been first planted to Zinfandel in 1904, and planted them on their estate property, resulting in “The Mother Clone Vineyard.” Dark in the glass with luscious blackberry fruit and hints of clove and black pepper. On the palate? Wow: that rich fruit, vanilla, and spice. Big without being boisterous, fruity without being over-the-top, zesty without being overbearing. Wow, this is good. And just short of a Whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2016 Cecchi Chianti Classico, Italy: Retail $16. 100% Sangiovese. For some reason, this was a bit difficult to find this year, but it remains one of my favorite wines in this price range. Here are my notes from the 2014: I’ve said it before, but this is one of the best red values out there. Earthy and fruity, which seems to combine the best of the Old World New World. When asked to recommend an inexpensive red, I always include this wine on the list. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2016 Pasqua Passimento Rosso, Romeo & Juliet, Veneto IGT: Retail $15. Merlot 40%, Corvina 30%, Croatina 30%. Fairly dark in the glass with juicy red and blue fruit, a bit of tobacco, and some earth. The palate is certainly fruit-forward and concentrated as one might expect from a passimento, but far from heavy. Really nice flavors and balance–I know it is a big producer and this is an inexpensive wine, but I am impressed. The label is a bit too busy for me, but that is really my only gripe. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.