Thanksgiving is far and away my favorite holiday. Any holiday so centered on food and wine and family and friends is great in my book, but Thanksgiving also represents the beginning of the holiday season (which also includes my kids’ birthdays) and the wrapping up of the harvest season in wine country.
It’s also the time of year when every wine writer knows what he or she is going to be writing about: Thanksgiving wine pairings. Every. Single. Writer. From glossy magazines — wine or otherwise — all the way down to local papers like this one.
Except I’m not doing that this year — or, I hope, ever again. Unless my editor asks for it, that is.
Just drink good wine that tastes good to you. Recommendations complete. I’m not going to go any farther than that. The whole thing is a little ridiculous.
What I am going to do is mention some things I’m thankful for — ’tis that season, after all — and some things I’m looking forward to this fall and winter in wine country.
I’m thankful for Macari Vineyards’ 2017 Early Wine Chardonnay. I served it at my wife’s 40th-birthday party last week — with hand-drawn labels courtesy of my kids — because it’s her favorite and this edition is as cracklingly delicious as any. It’s just the kind of juicy fresh wine that I love with myriad foods. It has just a little sweetness to it, but plenty of acidity to make it feel dry on the finish.
Speaking of fresh wine, I’m looking forward to trying to Bedell Cellars’ newly released 2017 Taste Nouveau as well. It’s 90% Merlot and 10% Malbec and made via carbonic maceration, a winemaking technique often associated with Beaujolais, in which whole grapes are fermented prior to crushing. The technique results in lighter bodied, punchy wines with fruit-forward, high-toned qualities. I’m excited that more wineries are making nouveau-style wines.
I’m thankful that the pumpkin-picking traffic has receded and my son’s youth football season is winding down. My weekends will be (almost) my own again and I’ll be able to get out east, which helps my mental health. I’m a better person when I get time with my fellow wine geeks.
I plan to spend at least some of that expanded time in wine country tasting the in-progress 2017 wines. I didn’t bother writing a harvest report this year. They are often the same, with lots of “Great vintage!” quotes from winemakers (who need to sell the wine no matter the season). This year I’m waiting until the wines are being made to form my own opinions.
This isn’t a new or timely one, but I’m thankful that most local winemakers have toned down the new oak in their programs. Being able to pour Long Island wines for my wine friends and have them really taste what makes the region’s wine unique, rather than the fancy new oak barrels wineries buy, is a true pleasure. Doesn’t hurt when I’m drinking them myself either.
And yeah, I’m thankful that Vineyard 48 is gone, but you probably already knew that. I’ll keep saying it, though.
This column originally appeared in the Suffolk Times/northforker.com