by Fred McMillin
for November 27, 1997

A Thanksgiving Sure Thing


  • 1620—On Nov. 11, 100 Pilgrims plus two born at sea arrive off Cape Cod. They bring no wine, but cooper John Alden, 21, is in charge of the ironbound casks containing beer.

  • 1621—Ninety two Indians attend the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving dinner. Wine is served, made from local grapes.

    - By James Trager, "The Food Chronology"

The Rest of the Story: American wine has improved a bit since 1621, led by California, which makes about 9 out of every 10 bottles of this country's wine. I reviewed with my tasters what California wine they would serve with their Thanksgiving dinner. They felt a red was more festive, even though the conventional choice would be a white Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. From 20 bottles, they chose a fruit-laden Pinot Noir. It's from the premier Pinot district of Carneros, produced by ZD Wines, $25. ZD made it "for delicacy rather than power," and sure enough, in my trial it paired nicely with roast turkey.

The Carneros Connection

ZD is a pioneer of Carneros Pinot. They produced a Carneros Pinot the year they were bonded (1969). The label read "From Grapes Grown in the Carneros Region of Napa." That was the first label to so recognize the Carneros district 12 years before it became an officially-designated appellation. They have made a Carneros Pinot every year since, and you can taste the experience...it's the first grape harvested...ZD developed a mechanical device so the skin cap can be punched down every six hours around the clock during fermentation...and then it's off to 1-1/2 years in French oak.

The Wine:
1995 Pinot Noir, Carneros
ZD Wines
Only 3,200 delicious cases
Contact—Rosa Lee de Leuze, (800) 487-7757

Postscript: About Mr. Trager's fine book, he notes that around the time the Pilgrims were enjoying those first Thanksgiving celebrations, there was an interesting gastronomic experiment in England. Philosopher-scientist Sir Francis Bacon published a work on the idea of freezing chickens by stuffing them with snow. Sadly, in the process he contracted pneumonia and died, as did the study, titled "Touching the Conservation of Bodies."

Note: for more about ZD Wines see WineDay, February 13, 1997

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf

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