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America might be suffering the effects of recession, but we didn't see much evidence of that on our 800 mile trek over the Thanksgiving holiday. Despite traveling during off times, Highways 395, 58, and 99 remained crowded with motorhomes and rigs hauling all manner of toyboxes and trailers stuffed with OHV's.
Highway cognitive dissonance notwithstanding, we're all feeling market jitters and it comes with little surprise that high end wine consumers are watching their wallets too. The only segment of the wine market that shows brisk growth are affordable wines costing less than nine dollars US. That seems intuitive.
Sales of wine for $9 or less make up the fastest-growing segment of the wine
market and sales above that price are starting to trend down, said Jon
Fredrikson, a Woodside, Calif., industry analyst.
Consumers are trading
down to wine they consider "values," Fredrikson said.
In most years, store manager Diana Hirst considers herself lucky if she can snag
six bottles of $265 Araujo Napa Valley cult Cabernet Sauvignon to stock in her
Costa Mesa wine shop.
This year she can get dozens -- a sign of how the
Wall Street meltdown is rippling across the alluvial fields of Napa Valley to
the chalky limestone vineyards of Champagne in France.
All of this may be good news for wine consumers. As demand shifts to less expensive wines, that downward pressure will have a consumer-friendly effect on mid-priced wines as it already has with expensive wines.
The Fairy God Mother of Wine deposited a care package on the porch the other day. Okay, we had to sign for it. Well Mrs TWC had to sign for it because TWC was enjoying a spot of lunch with my Italian client and his partner at the Rusty Pelican, on the harbor in Newport Beach. Frank's been drinking wine since he was two. You know how those first generation Italians are. It also means, you ARE drinking wine with lunch. It's like trying to turn down Senora El Jeronimo de Crow's chicken enchiladas. Don't matter that you had dinner at home. Eat! Eat! Thought that woman was Jewish 'til I was 24.
Problem was that Mrs TWC was in the shower with shampoo in her hair and The Boy isn't old enough to forge her name. The UPS guy was getting impatient (and jealous).
None-the-less, it happened, and inside the box was a particular wine that Darryl makes with a couple of friends just for fun. Now he's not an ordinary vineyard manager so there is some skill here. That was apparent when we opened the wine Thanksgiving Eve.
Rich and full, more Petite Syrah than Pinot. Deep inky purple. Drink now or ten years from now. MMMMMM. I swear, this is better than half the stuff on the rack at BEVMO. And it's just for fun. Just drinking wine. Homemade Tuesday Night wine.
Ahhh, Thanksgiving. The House Blonde's Thanksgiving Poem, Jake's plea on behalf of turkeys everywhere, mesquite roasted turkey, a visit from Stevie the Spy (Minion of the Dark Side), the Kosmik Kid on Spodee Ode, Palm Springs at night, Sonny Bono, and a great Bloody Mary.
Oh I know, just personal indulgence, but it's only five minutes and change. Worth a click.
Normal SOP is to post the Thanksgiving Sermon on Thanksgiving. We're doing it early so email subscribers and those busy with the Day of Thanksgiving will have the opportunity to hear the message before the onslaught of the Christmas mayhem season.
We begin today by invoking HL Mencken's axiom....
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the average public school bureaucrat.
After spending several weeks making Thanksgiving costumes out of colorful construction paper, the school board has decreed that kindergartners in Claremont public schools may not wear these "demeaning", "racist", & "dehumanizing" costumes to celebrate the first Thanksgiving.
The instigator is a Professor of Native American literature......
Raheja, whose mother is a Seneca, wrote the letter upon hearing of a four-decade district tradition, where kindergartners at Condit and Mountain View elementary schools take annual turns dressing up and visiting the other school for a Thanksgiving feast. This year, the Mountain View children would have dressed as Native Americans and walked to Condit, whose students would have dressed as Pilgrims.
These kindergartners probably know that the first American Thanksgiving celebration took place in 1621. They might not know that the celebration lasted for days and took place sometime between September 21 and November 11.
In contemporaneous writings the Pilgrims didn’t refer to this first Thanksgiving as a Day of Thanksgiving, which were randomly celebrated whenever the people felt particularly blessed. This was a party. A celebration. A grand feast. You thought the Pilgrims were stodgy, but they dressed colorfully, sang, played games, and danced. Forget about that starchy, severe, black and white clothing that is the stock in trade of grade-school plays. You can forget about the buckles too, because they hadn't been invented yet.
Maybe the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians enjoyed roast turkey, but we can't be positive because in the dialect, the term wild fowl described all game birds. There definitely weren't any hams, yams, or cranberries. No cranberries? No sugar, Dude. You ain't eating cranberries without sugar. Yikes!
Four centuries later, this simple celebration evolved into our magnificent tradition of Thanksgiving, the essence of which is simplicity and graciousness. One single day of breaking bread and sharing wine, dedicated to the appreciation of the blessings of our lives and the lives of those we hold dear. It is about the appreciation of the rewards of our labors, the blessings of family, and the pleasures of friendship. For many, it is a time of spiritual uplift and a special time to be thankful to God for the blessings He has bestowed over the foregoing year.
Indisputably much of what we have and enjoy is a direct product of our hard work, our ingenuity, our creativity, and our abilities. However, it is also indisputable that it is but an accident of chance that the stork didn't drop you off in Afghanistan or The Sudan. Fate, which Neil Peart aptly described as the weight of circumstances. Circumstances that all too often in all too many places mean that little ones are born only to suffer, for the want of immunity or a bowl of rice.
Celebrate life. Take just a moment to be grateful for the path you've chosen. Pour a glass of the red. Maybe a cup of Sumatran. Enjoy a moment of solitude. Of introspection. Think about how you came to be here and that your very essence has had a profound and lasting impact on the lives of more people than you might have imagined. Often, the reverse is true as well. And your being is the joyful result of those processes.
Me? Aside from being favored with a lovely and talented wife and the wonderful children she has given me, I am perpetually grateful that my clients have made it possible for me to earn a living in a most agreeable way. Thank you.
And to friends, family, and Gentle Readers: Thank you for your friendship, your love, and your countless acts of kindness.
From Casa de las Rocas Grandes, I wish you a lifetime of Kodak Moments. May your Thanksgiving be what memories are made of.
Dreamt last night that I was single and dating Hillary Clinton. Of course, given this was on Mr Sandman's dime, she was a younger, hotter Hillary Clinton with a surprisingly girlish figure.
Halfway through I found myself barefoot and trudging along a long dusty road through some not-yet-discovered part of Arizona where the sand wasn't blistering my feet. Twice I dove into a swift, clear river that I mistook for a lake and was swept away, nearly drowning. Mrs. TWC wondered aloud why I would dive in.
As a public service, The Wine Commonsewer Communications Network (WCCN and WCCN FM) has asked Lady Chatalaina to sit in the Guest Blogger chair today. White wine and all that. [gasps] Without further blather, her she is.....
Take a quick spin around the wine blogosphere and you'll see an awful lot of recommendations for Gewürztraminer. I serve a Cajun fried turkey on Thanksgiving, and there's no way a sweet and fruity Gertz would hold up to that, much less compliment it.
I prefer a lighter and crisper wine on Thanksgiving that doesn't even try to compete with the food (because my cooking is the star on Thanksgiving), but at the same time the wine must compliment the meal and help the food stand out.
Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice. Here's three:
You can never go wrong with Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc. Best of all, at $20.00 US, it's not as pricy as Cakebread Chardonnay. You'll find it light, crisp, and very subtle in flavor, although slightly oaky.
New Zealand's Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is another excellent pick. Admittedly, I kind of have a thing for the New Zealand wines, not sure why, but I almost always like them. Cloudy Bay is a little pricier ($18.00-$25.00 US).
Good old Kendall Jackson Sauvignon Blanc is always good, consistently crisp, light, refreshing, if somewhat tropical in flavor, and priced right at around $10.00 US. I find that it goes with almost anything I serve.
Chardonnay has wide appeal. Here's two:
Ghost Pines Chardonnay is a personal favorite. At $20.00 US, you'll find an exceptionally smooth, creamy wine with apples and pears. Excellent with stuffing or dressing that counts nuts and apples among the ingredients. Like my specialty stuffing.
Murphy-Goode Chardonnay ($15.00-$20.00 US) is rich with apple, vanilla, and nutmeg flavors and has been nicknamed apple pie in a glass as a result. I'm not too much with the sweeter wines, but this one isn't sickly fruity. It tastes more like autumn! Makes me want to sit outside in the leaves and let them swirl around me while I enjoy a glass.
TWC wishes to thank Chatalaina for her appearance here today.
The king and high priest of all the festivals was the autumn Thanksgiving. When the apples were all gathered and the cider was all made, and the yellow pumpkins were rolled in from many a hill in billows of gold, and the corn was husked, and the labors of the season were done, and the warm, late days of Indian Summer came in, dreamy, and calm, and still, with just enough frost to crisp the ground of a morning, but with warm traces of benignant, sunny hours at noon, there came over the community a sort of genial repose of spirit - a sense of something accomplished.