I was trying to think of something fun to post to celebrate Thanksgiving, maybe the best wines to go with a Thanksgiving meal, some good recipes, or something like that, when I ran across a fascinating post from W. Blake Gray about the state of the winemaking industry in Turkey. The two topics aren’t as far apart as you’d think, just now I found out that our eatin’ bird, the Turkey, actually does derive its name from the country Turkey. Here is the etymology from etymonline.com:
turkey (n.) 1540s, “guinea fowl” (Numida meleagris), imported from Madagascar via Turkey, by Near East traders known as turkey merchants. The larger North American bird (Meleagris gallopavo) was domesticated by the Aztecs, introduced to Spain by conquistadors (1523) and thence to wider Europe, by way of North Africa (then under Ottoman rule) and Turkey (Indian corn was originally turkey corn or turkey wheat in English for the same reason).
The word turkey was first applied to it in English 1550s because it was identified with or treated as a species of the guinea fowl. The Turkish name for it is hindi, lit. “Indian,” probably via M.Fr. dinde (c.1600, contracted frompoulet d’inde, lit. “chicken from India,” Mod.Fr. dindon), based on the common misconception that the New World was eastern Asia.
The New World bird itself reputedly reached England by 1524 at the earliest estimate, though a date in the 1530s seems more likely. By 1575, turkey was becoming the usual main course at an English Christmas. Meaning “inferior show, failure,” is 1927 in show business slang, probably from the bird’s reputation for stupidity. Meaning “stupid, ineffectual person” is recorded from 1951. Turkey shoot “something easy” is World War II-era, in ref. to marksmanship contests where turkeys were tied behind a log with their heads showing as targets.
Besides the fascinating word history (at least to a word nerd), Gray’s article is an interesting look into the ancient but new wine industry in Turkey:
Turkey is a fascinating place for wine researchers because it appears to be the birthplace of wine. The center of genetic diversity for wild grapes is a swath of eastern Turkey and western Armenia, and it appears that wine grapes were first domesticated there. There are about 400 indigenous Turkish grape varieties, but most are currently used for eating or as raisins. About 30 indigenous grapes are made into wine, along with international varieties that are more popular right now in the domestic Turkish market.
Check out the full article here: palatepress.com.
And Happy Thanksgiving from the Orion Team!