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A post-Thanksgiving musing


Just back from Thanksgiving in Malibu with my family. We had the usual assortment of various wines with the usual assortment of holiday food, and everybody complained about eating too much before taking a second serving of pecan pie.

No particular wine stood out because wine isn’t supposed to star at Thanksgiving. Food is. That’s why I didn’t blog on “What wines to drink with cranberry sauce/pumpkin pie/gravy/stuffing” etc. because I don’t really care. That’s not what Thanksgiving’s about. I think too many people do worry, though, to judge from the avalanche of articles in every newspaper on the topic, which is a function of the lemming-like instinct that prevails in modern day journalism.

I said no wine stood out, but a beer did! And it wasn’t at the Thanksgiving table. On Friday evening Paula and I headed down to the Promenade in Santa Monica to check out the freak show (midgets dressed as Leprechauns, Johnny Depp pirate impersonators, numerous Michael Jacksons moonwalking down Fourth Street, Darth Vaders, you get the idea). Gus had a great time and so did I, but suddenly I longed for an IPA and after numerous enquiries into restaurants and bars (nobody would let poor Gus in) we found this dive on a side street where the bartender said Gus was cool if I kept him wrapped up in my jacket (which he actually loves to do). AND they had IPAs including one of my faves, Lagunitas. However the server strongly recommended a brand called Drakes Brewing,

namely their Double IPA. Oh man, that hit the spot. Rich, full-bodied, malty-sweet. It’s from San Leandro, the next town south from Oakland, so I plan to add it to my shopping list from now on.

Some people get so weird with wine. Linda, one of my family’s old friends, came up to me at Thanksgiving dinner with a glass of white wine in her hand. “Stevie, can you help me out?” she asked, in her Texas drawl. “I like to put an ice cube in my wine, but your cousin [who was our host] won’t let me. She said it’s heathen.”

I assured Linda it’s fine to put an ice cube in her wine if she wants to. I told her I sometimes do. And sometimes I put some pineapple juice in Chardonnay, or in Champagne. In fact, I told Linda, if you want to put a little umbrella and a cherry in your wine, go ahead! Celebrate! Be happy! Why is it that I, the “wine connoisseur,” am the least fussy person I know when it comes to the “rules”? I’ll never figure that one out.

And now, in California, here comes winter. It’s been a mild Autumn so far (close to 90 in L.A. on Saturday, and even in the Bay Area the temps have flirted with 70 for weeks). But the cold will come—cold by our standards, anyway, not by Minnesota’s or even New York’s. With the cold weather I turn to fuller-bodied reds to warm the body and soul.

To Santa Barbara next week to see what’s up. It’s one of my favorite parts of the state, as readers of this blog know. So “not Napa” (nothing against Napa there, just pointing out the obvious). Santa Barbara benefits from having a little bit of Hollywood’s glitz and glamor—not too much, just enough to make you feel you’re someplace special. If you’ve never been, as a tourist, I recommend a few days. Stay in Los Olivos or Santa Ynez town and explore the valley, including the Santa Rita Hills. I even give you permission to have wienerschnitzel in Solvang. Wash it down with a Drakes Double IPA.

  1. Bill Geofferys says:

    Drakes and lagunitas ipas are too sweet. Verty problematic. Please switch to rrbc’s ipas. Ok? Thanks

  2. Bill: Drakes is kinda sweet but it was hot in LA and that’s what I was in the mood for!

  3. “Why is it that I, the “wine connoisseur,” am the least fussy person I know when it comes to the “rules”?”

    My opinion, which has to do with a knowledge “bell curve” …

    1. When you know little, you’re open to (and excited by) all sorts of notions (and you don’t know the rules, yet);

    2. When you know some, you’re careful about rules (and feel both noble and safe in following them);

    3. When you know a lot, you’re confident in choosing to ignore rules (because you understand where they come from, and you know they don’t always make sense).

  4. i’ve also gotten the sheepish “ice cube in my wine” question, and gave the same answer as you: drink wine the way you like it. that said, i do think there is a place for wine at the thanksgiving table (whatever that wine may be). i do a different wine theme every thanksgiving, and it always goes over well, even if the wines aren’t 90-point napa cabs. this year we did a rose’ thanksgiving, and even tho the wines were mediocre, everyone enjoyed a little pink wine with their turkey.

  5. Nice job Steve! The holidays are about so many things, sometimes the drink alone doesn’t make the news. Good choice on the beer in your post-Turkey revelry.


  6. Ryan Flinn says:

    The Drake’s brewery in San Leandro is a cool place to visit. It’s behind Walmart, so sort of in a weird area, but they have several barrel aged beers on tap you can’t get anywhere else (and they’re not selling them unfortunately). They have an imperial stout called Pinot Gallery aged in pinot and merlot barrels (there’s a very sour cherry note on this beer, almost puckerish, which is unusual for a strong stout). I also liked their Space Monkey, which is a barelywine beer aged in bourbon barrels.


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