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 [Photo: Setting the feast table / Credit: Dinner Series]


The door was already opening before the bell rang. Two blonde-haired girls found their way to my arms while singing out “Papa Bill, I’ve really missed you. Where’s Grandma?” The full court press was on. Our home, arms, and most of all, our hearts were full of grateful thanksgiving.


The next morning we all headed to our oldest daughter’s home: three generations and 10 souls. I was the eldest and delighted to carry the youngest into the home where aromas beckoned at the curb.


My eye was quick to notice the bottles while their shapes and colors began to lure with enticing suggestions of what they might hold. A cork stained dark purple stain sat on the counter next to a crystal decanter. It contained a crimson liquid that already had begun its seduction.


The giddy girls quickly found the room where the kittens lived, while the boys retired to a screen that showed barbarians in Gladiator apparel clamoring for an oblong ball. I sat myself near the counter as the self appointed Sommelier for the afternoon. My wife’s eyes twinkled with approval as I lifted a flute after filling it with an Althea ‘Cartizze’ Prosecco di Valdobbiadene. The delicate sweetness filled my glass with fizzy bubbles and was like jazz in the mouth. Hinting of lemon and slightly acidic, it was the perfect way to begin a lovely afternoon while waking the palate, especially for those who like sparkles on the tongue.


 



We’re a huggy, kissy family and I received as many kisses as were given that afternoon. My daughters came to sit next to me and my grandchildren found time to tell of their exciting lives as pre-teenagers. Life is good. Occasionally my wife found her way onto my lap while bringing a taste of dressing along with a sip from her glass of Adelsheim ‘Bryan Creek’Pinot Noirthat she opened after the Prosecco was emptied. It finished mid-palate with tones of chocolate, left little residue and the lingering scent of warm earth was enjoyable.


The family gathered about the table as we held hands and expressed our heartfelt thanks to the Lord for the blessing and love of family and for the grace that God has shown in bringing us together. I wiped a tear as I released Mrs. Poet’s hand and said in earnest, “And thank you too, Lord, for the fruit of the vine.”  The smile in her eyes said “Amen.”


My oldest daughter had prepared a delectable meal and had now taken her seat at the table with a satisfied look. Each of the 14 guests, save our youngest 13-month-old granddaughter, had ‘proper’ utensils as well as glasses placed before them.  I poured the children sparking white grape juice and for the adults, I poured a light and slightly sweet Willamette Valley Riesling. This is a wine to be truly grateful for. Its flavor is fruity and crisp with acidity and sweetness in perfect balance.


The first helping of turkey eaten, it was time to bring out the game—elk tenderloin—barbequed lightly after sautéing it in black pepper, oregano, sage, lemon peel, Italian dressing and Braggs Amino Acids. I reached for a bottle of Barefoot Zinfandel which met the need for boldness and tannins. Its nose was spicy and full of fruit while it hit the palate solidly mid-tongue and finished long with remnants of earthy tannins, spice and blackberries. While pairing nicely with the elk, it didn’t overpower the acorn squash soup with a generous touch of curry and a dollop of cream on top.


 



The activity of the family continued as dinner wound down. With the dishwasher running and the pie nearly gone, I thought it only appropriate to bring in a 20-year Taylor Tawny Port from the car. I pulled the cork without a pop, unceremoniously poured two inches or so into the six, narrow glasses that had miraculously appeared on the table. In unison we raised them to our lips as the words came out of my mouth “Everything’s fine through lover’s eyes™.” The sweet, thick wine smell filled the nose with oak and honey. The taste finish remained while the mellow hints of orange and memories of dark, oaken barrels that had housed the golden liquid for two decades was decidedly the pièce de résistance.


This had been indeed, the best Thanksgiving ever.


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