For Thanksgiving this year, my wife and I went to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Conditions were nearly perfect for canyon gazing: The air was crisp and crystal clear, with visibility well over 100 miles. We were staying in a rustic lodge next to the main campground, so we decided to do something a little different for our holiday meal. We found an outdoor fire ring with a grill and decided to cook our own meal over an open fire—much more entertaining in this locale than dining in a restaurant, we thought. The only difficulty was finding some good turkey parts to grill. So instead we purchased a stuffed Cornish game hen—small enough to cook quickly yet featuring the requisite Thanksgiving form, though in a much-reduced version.
What better wine than Zinfandel to match with this poultry. I had purchased a Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2008 a week before in Las Vegas, and had transported it the 300-plus miles in anticipation of matching it with our holiday repast. I wasn’t disappointed. After an hour or so on the grill, the bird was ready, and my wife and I scurried back to the warmth of our room. The bird was carved and plated (along with roasted sweet potatoes and green salad) and I poured the Zin. Its fruit comes from vineyards first planted more than a century ago in the eastern margin of Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay area. After fermentation, the wine was then aged for seven months in American oak. The result is a ripe red with plenty of spiciness and soft tannins supporting the red fruit flavors. I rated it 86 points, non-blind, and it went down just fine on an adventurous Thanksgiving night. And it was a bargain at just $13 a bottle.