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My favorite holiday is right around the corner. Thanksgiving is all about food, family and wine! My trick for a relaxing holiday with my guests is to do a bit of prep each night so that it isn’t so overwhelming. 

Monday 

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I prepare my brine which probably costs more than my turkey but turns out perfectly each year. I don’t use exact measurements, adding kosher salt until I get that salty, sea water taste, which I then balance with a combination of honey, brown sugar and apple or cranberry juice. Next, I throw in chopped apples or cranberries, onion, garlic, orange slices, fennel, fresh thyme, fresh sage, peppercorns and red pepper flakes. Finally, I add a bottle of Zinfandel, which gives the turkey a pink blush after brining. 

Tuesday 

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Tonight the cooled brine is transferred into a recycled cork bag from the winery, along with the turkey, which is then sealed and covered in ice and placed inside a cooler on the deck for two days. I’m also making homemade pie crust to refrigerate and use the following day. Tuesday is a good night to select your wines! If you need something to pair with your appetizers while watching the football games, Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc both have crisp acidity and pair easily with most everything. Pull out the Chardonnay or Pinot Noir to pair with your turkey dinner - but did you know that a well-aged bottle of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon can have the necessary delicacy to pair nicely with delicate white meat as well? If you are less traditional and prefer wines to sink your teeth into, a spicy Zinfandel or our Cellar 1879 Red Blend might also pair nicely - especially if you lean towards spicy southwest cooking flavors such as cornbread stuffing with chorizo.

Wednesday

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Since my kids are out of school, I take Wednesday off and get them to help me with the pie making, setting the table and creating flower arrangements. My kids love pumpkin pie and I still use my grandmother’s recipe. My secret ingredient is to add a healthy dash (a quarter teaspoon) of finely ground black pepper to add background intensity to the spices. Now is the perfect time to pull out a chilled bottle of Muscat to add flourish to the dessert finale! Plus don’t forget that Muscato goes with sweet potatoes layered with brown sugar and butter.

Thursday 

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Thursday morning will find me making stuffing while everyone is still in bed and pulling the brined, pink bird out for a towel-down before he heads to the smoker BBQ. Once the kids are awake, they share in the potato peeling and help me whip up a batch of rolls that scent the house with love. Finally, afternoon rolls around and it’s time to sit down and enjoy all of the preparation from the past few days. 

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Happy Thanksgiving from my table to yours! - Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls

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