One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about living in central and southeast Texas is how passionate people are about cookery and how devoted they are to family culinary traditions.
The Parzen family spent its holiday this year in Bridge City, a town that sits between Port Arthur, birthplace of Janis Joplin, and Orange, birthplace of my wife Tracie P and the last city on Interstate 10 as you head east through Southeast Texas toward Louisiana (pronounced without the o around those parts).
That’s my Thanksgiving plate (above). And if you’re wondering about the peas and mayonnaise, that’s eight layer salad (not to be confused with seven or nine layer salad). My mother-in-law Mrs. B substitutes the traditional iceberg lettuce with romaine because she knows my preference for leafy greens.
Those are some the sides (below): boiled corn, sweet potato pie topped with roast pecans and marshmallows, mashed potatoes, and the seven layer salad (foreground).
Houston (two hours away by car) is probably the closest urban area where Franciacorta is available but I was happy to bring a few bottles from my private stash to share with the wine lovers.
Honestly, not everyone in southeast Texas likes to drink wine. Beer, “Crown” and Sprite, gin and tonic, and sweetened tea were the beverages of choice this year (and most years, for that matter). But everyone made a point of tasting “Jeremy’s wine,” if not for any other reason than hallmark southeast Texan politeness (another one of my favorite things about living in Texas, where, even when people may find my background exotic and generally don’t share my political views, they always treat me with great humanity).
Southeast Texans aren’t squeamish about day-drinking and we began opening bottles around 1 p.m. about an hour before the meal was served.
When you can’t be with the stemware you love, love the stemware you’re with.
With literally 20+ guests, not counting the ebb-and-flow visitors, and a tide of kids (bouncing off the walls from all the sugar they consume on a feast day), it really wouldn’t be advisable to break-out your best Riedel at a southeast Texas Thanksgiving.
Although it’s not ideal, the plastic cup, once rinsed with a drop or two of wine, is not a bad vessel for sparkling wine, which is served sufficiently chilled so as not to be affected by the heat imparted by your grasp (unless you intend to nurse your wine, which really doesn’t occur with any great frequency at a southeast Texas Thanksgiving).
I really liked the way that Franciacorta worked with the meal this year: it had just the right amount of freshness and depth to work well with the savory, sweet, and tart dishes (because the Franciacorta consortium is my client, and an extra-sensitive one at that, I’m not going to reveal which producer I poured, but suffice it to say that it’s a wine currently available in Texas at Spec’s).
The best thing was how the wine’s trademark sour quality just seemed to wrap itself around the myriad flavors of the Thanksgiving repast. Although the brut, extra brut, and nature (no dosage or “zero dosage”) are my favorites, even the wines with greater amounts of residual sugar will show this character.
As much as I love a great glass of Lambrusco with Thanksgiving, Franciacorta has emerged as my number-one Thanksgiving wine.