|Media Portrayal of Thanksgiving|
The great cultural myth of Thanksgiving is upon us. On Thursday, we celebrate that first Thanksgiving when Martha Stewart and Miles Standish invited the local Native Americans over to share in the bounty of America. The two cultures had shared so much. The Native Americans had taught Martha how to live off the land, and how to make contraceptives from beaver pelts, while the Pilgrims had given the Native Americans the great gift of smallpox. To celebrate these gifts, and the opening of the first Native American casino Wampum World, a great feast was prepared by Martha Stewart’s many flunkies. The menu of that original Thanksgiving is lost in the mists of time, but recently the suggested wine pairings, curated by famed wine expert Dildo Sohm, WSET (White Settler Exterminating Tribes) were discovered. However, the Native Americans wisely brought their own wines. Corkage fees had only just been invented at the time, and thus the tribe was charged £25 for the first bottle, and for the next five, Genocide.
Every November the wine press is obligated to recommend wines that go with Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone hates this ritual, especially those given the task of writing about wines that go with Thanksgiving dinner. You can just hear the tedium in their voices. “What matters at Thanksgiving isn’t what you drink,” writes Jon Bonné in the San Francisco Chronicle,”what matters is that you drink what I tell you.” Or how about this nugget from Eric Asimov in the New York Times, “The Pilgrims didn’t know a red from a white, unless you mean skin color.” The advice of the major wine and food writers boils down to exactly the same thing every year. Drink a wine that’s versatile. I have no idea what that means. Stupid wine reviews say, “This wine is versatile at the table.” Which sounds more like a Vegas hooker. And, anyway, it’s lousy advice.
Every family makes just about the same meal on Thanksgiving. There are slight variations, but they’re meaningless. We can’t all drink the same wines, too! I don’t want Beaujolais, I don’t want off-dry German Riesling, I don’t want some obscure Croatian wine made from the rare Squanto grape. (And if you haven’t had a serious bottle of Squanto, well, try one with a good cigar--store Indian.) It just doesn’t matter. I don’t care if the wine matches the same damn food everyone else is eating all over the entire country. Thanksgiving is not the least teeny-tiny bit about wine. Worrying about wine at Thanksgiving is like worrying about what brand of knife to use at the beheading. No need to stick your neck out. Go with the usual. Drink any damned thing.
Thanksgiving is our national holiday that celebrates family dysfunction. Sure, there was a time when Thanksgiving was the day we expressed gratitude for our many blessings by overeating, drinking to excess, and watching large men dish out brain damage on TV. But now we leave out the gratitude, which, truthfully, was disingenuous to begin with. So my suggestion for pairing the perfect wines with your Thanksgiving feast is to match the wine with your family’s dysfunction. This is not only therapeutic, it’s tremendous fun!
|The Usual Family Thanksgiving|
Many families spend the day rehashing old sibling rivalries, revisiting childhood grudges and feelings of being loved less by a parent despite being the good child. This is especially poignant if you’re an only child, and indicative of a youth spent inhaling oven cleaner. If you find yourself dreading the Thanksgiving meal sitting across from your bossy older sister, or your completely spoiled baby brother, or the adopted kid who got all the love you had coming even though she was stealing mom blind and blackmailing dad with those sexts, I’d recommend you serve a wine that is, like you, slightly pétillant, maybe one of the Pet Nat wines that are all the rage. Pet Nat is short for Pétillant Naturel, which is French for slightly fizzy wines that might contain pubic hair. The process of making Pet Nat wines almost guarantees that they’ll be unstable, and what better wine for the tensions surrounding your Thanksgiving table?
Tolstoy wrote one of literature’s most famous opening lines, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Spend a little time this holiday thinking about what’s unique about your family’s unhappiness, and then matching the reasons for that unhappiness with an appropriate wine. Does your family constantly squabble about money? Bring a very young Barolo and make a point to remark how tight it is. Maybe you have to spend your day listening to the racist remarks of a family member. What could be better than an insipid Pinot Grigio? “A stupid white for a stupid white,” makes for a lovely opening prayer.
At Thanksgiving, wine is an opportunity. An opportunity to make your point, to participate in the social lubrication that is wine while at the same time expressing your suppressed anger at these people who have made your life a living hell. It doesn’t matter if it pairs with the food. Who the hell cares about that? Your racist uncle? Your asshole brother-in-law? Don’t be stupid. Thanksgiving is the one day each year you can use wine to make a point.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!