NEW ORLEANS - Thanksgiving: a time for family, friends, food and booze. But before you break out the wine, put a cork in it! We have to clear up a common misconception: The pilgrims did not drink wine at Thanksgiving dinner!
“Wine was certainly available in Europe, and pilgrims may have been fans of it, but wine doesn’t really travel across the Atlantic Ocean well," Drink & Learn Historian Elizabeth Pearce says. "So by the time it arrived in Colonial America, it wasn’t the tastiest product, not to mention that wine would be expensive."
The pilgrims sailed the ocean blue with barrels of beer, but when they got to Plymouth Rock, they had a problem.
“They had drunk all the beer. And the captain put them off on the shore and was like, hey good luck. They begged the crew to give them some of their beer, but the ship’s crew was like no because we want to have enough beer to make it back across the Atlantic," said Pearce. "The pilgrims would have to make their own, but that would be a challenge! They didn’t have barley, which was a grain commonly used to make beer. And they didn’t have hops, which was not only used to flavor but was also a preservative."
They had to get creative.
“If barley be wanting to make into malt. We shall be contented and think it no fault, for we shall make liquor to sweeten our lips of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut-tree chips and other green cornstalks we make our best beer. We put it in barrels to drink all the year," Pearce said, reciting a popular Pilgrim poem.
Those that weren’t a fan of the pumpkin and parsnips beer had another option, though.
"What the pilgrims drank was fermented apple juice, or what we call hard cider. And that’s because it was something they were used to drinking back in England. Cider was very, very popular in Europe and they were lucky – several varieties of apples are native to America," said Pearce.
So if you truly want to drink like the pilgrims, exchange that wine and champagne for cider and beer. Cheers!