Thanksgiving, Horseshoes, and Wine

bu Tamra Bolton

As the holiday season approaches my thoughts turn to my favorite family celebration, that uniquely American holiday…Thanksgiving.  While Christmas is somewhat overshadowed by high expectations, whirling rounds of parties, gift buying and standing obligations, Thanksgiving is mostly free of these restraints and therefore a much more relaxed and all around enjoyable holiday.  For my family, it is a time of easy conversation, sharing funny stories, memories and playing games.  Most of us are fairly competitive, so our games of horseshoes, washers and dominoes are usually loud, punctuated by maniacal laughter at some of my (or my older sisters) poorer attempts to toss the heavy horseshoes.

While the majority of my family are teetotalers, they don’t “look down their noses” at us who like to imbibe.  They don’t understand our fascination with wine and all the nuances associated with it, but they respect our interest “in the vine” and only tease us occasionally.   I think that’s what makes families and family holidays work…tolerance and respect.

We don’t always agree with one another, especially whether a shoe is “leaning or in” or who’s sweet potato pie is the best, but we understand that everyone has a right to his or her opinion.

Lots of folks think that any wine not made from grapes is not really wine and that’s alright, if that’s what they want to think.  I am not a huge fan of other fruit wines, but I have also found a few that actually impressed me.  Traveling around the country, I am fortunate to visit many different types of wineries and talk to winemakers about their passion. 

Thinking about Thanksgiving made me remember a winery in Maine I visited several years ago, Bartlett Maine Estate Winery.  Located across Frenchman’s Bay from Bar Harbor, this unique winery reminded me of just how good some fruit wines can be.  Just outside tiny Gouldsboro, established in 1789, you can follow the winding drive through the hemlocks and maples to Bartlett’s whimsical wine tasting room and shop.  In business since 1982, the Estate Winery has a wine for every palate.  From the local wild blueberry wine to the sweet Loganberry they offer, I tried almost everything they had.  If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you know I lean heavily towards the dry reds as my favorites, but I was smitten with the way the Bartlett’s Coastal White, a medium dry apple/pear blend toyed with my taste buds.  I think it would work well with pork and possibly turkey, putting it in the running for a Thanksgiving choice.

There are local fruit-based wine makers all over the country, some in your area.  If you’ve been afraid to try some of these types of wines, I encourage you to sample a few…you might be surprised.  Expanding your experience with wine helps you understand the nuances and raise your appreciation for all those passionate souls who labor to produce the “fruit of the vine” for our pleasure.

Like spending the holidays with relatives, we may not all agree, but we can respect the other guys (or gals) opinion and have a great time anyway…even if they beat us at horseshoes.