Pilgrim Era Thanksgiving Ingredients and Lambrusco

Pilgrim Era Thanksgiving Ingredients and Lambrusco

Originally published in VEGAS SEVEN By Marisa Finetti & Kirk Peterson
(Updated in 2019)

The huge, ungainly bird that has become the de facto centerpiece around which the entire Thanksgiving feast is built gives us a feeling of authenticity, as we imagine that America’s settlers might have chomped on a crispy turkey leg in November 1621. But the “first Thanksgiving” meal was far different from our modern holiday offerings. While the starring meats included deer, ducks and geese, cranberry sauce wasn’t invented until 50 years later when sugar became available, and potatoes were virtually unknown in the U.S. until the early 1700s. Hence, the pilgrims and their native Wampanoag guests celebrated the harvest by preparing locally sourced crops such as corn, leeks, beans, plums, chestnuts and berries, as well as eels, quahogs, lobsters and cod from the Atlantic, and consumed the prizes from their “fowling” missions.

A Sip to Go With…

So Nice on Ice
Poor Lambrusco. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, it was a hugely successful wine in the U.S., made in an easy-drinking, overly sweet “so nice on ice” style. But tastes have changed, and lambrusco fell out of fashion. But this is only a tiny hiccup in the 2,000-year history of one of Italy’s most misunderstood grapes, which produces perhaps the most food-friendly red wines in the world.

Lambrusco is both the name of the grape and of the wine made from it in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, arguably the gastronomic center of the country and home of Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto and aceto balsamico. Quality Lambrusco is typically made as a frizzante (slightly sparkling) red wine with varying degrees of sweetness: secco (dry), amabile (off dry) and dolce (sweet), and all are meant to be drunk while still young. Its naturally high acid and frothy carbonation make for a fresh, lively wine, while its lack of tannins and varying degrees of sweetness make it astonishingly versatile from a food-pairing standpoint.

The traditional Thanksgiving meal presents a variety of wine-pairing challenges because of the diversity of dishes presented and how they are served all at once, necessitating a wine that pairs as well with turkey as it does with sweet yams and green bean casserole. Lambrusco is that wine: explosive red berry flavors, vibrant liveliness and a sparkling personality that make it the perfect accompaniment for the holiday meal. Try a secco or amabile version for dinner and don’t forget to have a bottle of dolce ready for when everyone’s ready for pie.

Medici Ermete Concerto Lambrusco Reggiano

Riunite Lambrusco (750ml, 1.5L, 3L)

Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro

Sei Amici Lambrusco Rosso

Gionelli Red Lambrusco

Cavicchioli Lambrusco Dolce

Photography: Krystal Ramirez
Food Stylist: Ciera Pedro


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