It’s not easy to please both Aunt Edith and your sister’s hipster boyfriend; to find a match for tart cranberry sauce, creamy green bean almondine (thanks, Edi) and freshly-foraged mushroom stuffing smothered in Turkey gravy. Such a challenge is nothing to be thankful for. But here are five wines that will get the whole happy family through the neverending Thanksgiving feast.
Bay Area Bubbly: Domestic sparkling wine is something we really should be grateful for: It’s festive, it’s affordable and it pairs with everything. Iron Horse and Schramsberg are two of the finest, but every once in a while Sonoma-based and Spanish-owned Gloria Ferrer turns up with something exciting. Cue their first non-vintage Blanc de Blancs made from 100 percent Carneros Chardonnay. It’s pretty delicious and at $22 a bottle, you don’t have to be shy about popping those corks.
Riesling from the Beaver State: Oregon has established itself as a great place for Pinot Noir, but less known is the state’s Riesling, which ranges in style from very dry and mineral-driven (like Argyle and Brooks) to light, sweet and low alcohol (Amity, Willamette Valley Vineyards). These aren’t dessert wines (although some could be). Instead, pair Oregon Riesling with the antipasto or a wilted green salad. Anything citrusy or spicy will go quite well.
Powerful Whites from Paradise: For a full-bodied white, ditch the Napa Chard for a night. Assyrtiko from the Greek island of Santorini is a wine that is sure to spark a conversation. Made from vines that are hundreds of years old and grown in pure volcanic ash, the wines are intense, savory bordering on salty and sometimes quite tannic. They won’t take the meal lying down, rest assured. Look for the single vineyard organically grown wines from Hatzidakis and the more crowd-pleasing but less-profound wines of Domaine Sigalas (both available at boutique wine shops around the city).
Red Sancerre: Pinot Noir is the classic Thanksgiving wine — light to medium-bodied, bright acidity, slightly earthy. Forget Burgundy and surprise the Pinot lovers at the table with wine from Sancerre. Known for its minerally manifestation of Sauvignon Blanc, the region also makes small amounts of 100 percent Pinot Noir. It’s recognizable as the grape, with bright, tart red fruit flavors and its characteristic Pinot funk, but it’s also very much an expression of the place with an underlying soil character that speaks to the flint and limestone in which it grows. Le Clos Chartier by Domaine Gueneau (K&L Wines) and the La Croix du Roy by Lucien Crochet (Neal Rosenthal) are two excellent examples available in the Bay Area.
A Place for Port: For that moment when the table has been cleared, no one can eat another bite and yet everyone still lingers around the table — for this moment, god made Port. Or rather, the Portuguese did. But anyway, we’re grateful they did. For complex, terroir-driven wine that is sweet, yes, but also so much more than sweet, look for “Quinta vintage” wines — these are ports (for true Port from the Douro Valley, look for “Porto” or “Oporto” on the label) that are made from single estates and vintage-dated even on years that are not officially vintage Port years. Quinta dos Malvedos, from steeply terraced vineyards high above the Douro river, and Quinta do Vesuvio, made in the traditional method of communal foot stomping in large concrete legares, are both wonderful and very different. Put the bottle on the table — it will get drank, we promise.