Dysfunctional Family Holiday Meets Functional Wine Pairing

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Hosting? Guesting? Neither or, maybe, both? Thanksgiving offers us a lot of time to spend with family and friends. Nothing wrong with spending time with friends; we like them because we got to pick them. It’s the family part that gets us; we’re stuck with them.

If you’re going to be “stuck” spending a lot of time with your family this Thanksgiving, make the gathering more fun by inviting Francis Ford Coppola to the party. While offering us mouth-dropping entertainment that makes our own family seem like Ward and June Cleaver, Coppola also offers us some mouth-watering wines from some of the world’s best wine regions.

No family could possibly be more dysfunctional than the Corleones. There’s the powerful, “do as I say” father, the older brother out to prove himself, the middle brother that’s part ferret and part fraidy cat and then there’s the baby that everyone wants to shield but who will overthrow them all to be the new powerful, “do as I say” dude. Don’t forget the women: a sister who would rather be beaten than not married and a wife who is so gullible as to believe that a Mafioso can turn legit in five years.

Yes, I am talking “The Godfather.” Coppola, who directed the trilogy, brings us into the lives and lets us delve into the minds of the most well-known organized crime family. If you think the man doesn’t know crazy, dysfunctional holidays, you’ve never seen a Godfather movie which can only mean you’ve been hiding under a rock.

I recently had the pleasure of tasting one of Coppola’s wines from the Diamond Collection; the 2009 Gold Label Chardonnay made from Monterey County sourced grapes. Normally I am not a Chardonnay lover. I know everyone says that but still drinks the stuff but really I am not, especially California Chards. The wines are always so overworked and overpuffed that by the time you take a sip you are underwhelmed.

I had an interesting recipe for Chicken Ndizi, a Tanzanian dish originating in the Kilimanjaro region. The recipe calls for combining ginger, garlic, coconut milk and green bananas to be served over ugali (corn meal). Thinking of all these exotic flavors melding together eventually made me gravitate towards a Chardonnay and the one I chose was the Gold Label Chardonnay from Coppola. It was such a good pairing as if the wine and dish were made for each other. The wine was slightly on the oaky side since some of the wine is fermented in French oak. This is normally what distracts me from California Chardonnays. But as I continued to sip the wine, I noticed the crisp acidity that hit the back of my throat offering a flavor experience that was a little more intricate than expected.

That acidic streak in the wine is what gave it the strength to stand up to the recipe. Remember the coconut milk and bananas? These types of flavors need the counteraction of acid to make them stand out; otherwise, you end up with a dish that has nothing but milky, mushy flavors.

The Gold Label Chardonnay is the wine you will want to share with your hosts or guests this Thanksgiving. You will find that the wine will allow the flavors of the harvest fresh vegetables to really pop and will bring all the earthy and creamy flavors together for a delicious delight.

This Thanksgiving, when the dysfunction begins, slide in The Godfather DVD into the player and pour yourself a glass of the 2009 Gold Label Chardonnay wine from Coppola. Eventually everyone will wonder what you are doing and join you on the couch for some quiet movie watching and wine sipping.

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