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Think fast: you’ve been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner (or maybe an early ‘Friendsgiving’ dinner), and you’ve been tasked with bringing the wine. Easy enough, you think, but then you start to wonder, what wines go well with turkey, gravy, stuffing and pumpkin pie?

Fortunately, we’re one step ahead of you. We reached out to several local wine retailers to find out what the experts suggest you imbibe on T-day. Here’s what they had to say:


“The Thanksgiving table already has so much going on, at so many culinary, emotional and social levels,” said Bradford Taylor, owner of Ordinaire wine bar in the Grand Lake neighborhood of Oakland. “I think it’s best to not complicate it any further. Choose one wine — a light red, slightly chilled — and litter your table with bottles. One bottle per four people is about right.”

Christian Ducroux Exspectatia
“Gamay from the Beaujolais is the classic choice. Our favorite is Christian Ducroux Exspectatia ($21), a light but gusty quaffer that will lighten up all that heavy food. I’ve set aside a case for my family’s feast this year.”

Domaine Rimbert Cousin Oscar
“Grab some bottles of Domaine Rimbert Cousin Oscar ($15), a juicy red that would joyously replace your aunt’s bottle of Diet Pepsi — and it’s cheap enough that you can just keep popping bottles.

Nathalie Gaubicher Kharakter
“Of course, a lot of your day might be spent prepping, which is when I like to drink more contemplative stuff. Nathalie Gaubicher Kharakter ($30) has become something of a Thanksgiving standby for me: dry Chenin Blanc that tricks you into an autumnal orchard laden with Honeycrisp apples and the scent of pine and mulling spices. It’s a perfect wine that I’d happily share with kitchen help, or not.”

Ordinaire, 3354 Grand Ave. (near Mandana), Oakland


Erin Coburn, co-owner of minimo in Jack London Square, has had Thanksgiving on her mind and was ready with five suggestions for bottles that go well with traditional holiday fare. She has suggestions that run the gamut from sparkling, white, red and even orange!

Domaine Bechtold Crémant d’Alsace Extra Brut 2014
“Who doesn’t love bubbles? A Crémant d’Alsace ($27) is a perfect Thanksgiving starter, especially with appetizers or cheese plates. Made in the same method as Champagne, this wine is equal parts Chardonnay and Auxerrois. It’s vibrant and crisp, with bright citrus notes.”

Kobal Šipon Furmint 2016
“For Thanksgiving whites, I gravitate towards Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay from Chablis, but a great alternative is Furmint, a white grape most commonly found in Hungary. The Kobal Šipon Furmint ($22) is actually from Slovenia, close to the Hungarian border, and it’s an elegant example with beautiful stone fruit and minerality. It has the weight to stand up to richer foods, yet the balance and acidity to keep your palate refreshed.”

Donkey & Goat Ramato Filigreen Farm Pinot Gris (Anderson Valley) 2016
“Orange wines, made from white grapes fermented on their skins, are spectacular with food. Berkeley winery Donkey & Goat make a delicious Pinot Gris ($28) with up to five days of skin contact, resulting in a pink-orange hue and notes of tangerine, pink grapefruit and candied orange peel. Serve with a slight chill (not too cold) and marvel at how it complements everything from cheese to root vegetables to turkey.”

Two Shepherds Pastoral Melange 2014
“When it comes to red wines for Thanksgiving, I lean toward wines that are lighter-bodied with bright acidity — ones that can mingle with diverse food flavors instead of overwhelming them. One favorite option is a slightly chilled — and for that, the Pastoral Melange ($24) by Sonoma winery Two Shepherds is a perfect choice. A blend of 50% Mourvèdre, 17% Syrah, 17% Carignan, and 16% Roussanne, it shines with bright red fruits, cranberry tartness, and herbal notes.”

Edmunds St. John El Jaleo, Shake Ridge Vineyard, Amador Co. 2016
“If you’re looking for something more substantial, but still light on its feet, Edmunds St. John of Berkeley produces a beautiful blend of Rhône and Spanish varieties — one part each Grenache, Tempranillo, and Mourvedre, and one-half part Graciano, all from the legendary Shake Ridge Ranch vineyard ($32). A lovely ruby red color, this wine boasts a medley of plums, blueberries, fresh earth and baking spice, and will integrate seamlessly with your Thanksgiving feast.”

minimo, 420 3rd St. (near Broadway), Oakland

Bay Grape

Stevie Stacionis, co-owner of Bay Grape in Adam’s Point, Oakland, was inspired by our prompt. She went beyond thinking about what wines go well with what foods; she even considered what wines go down easiest during all the scenarios you’ll find yourself in when dining with a large group — most specifically, with family.

Paltrinieri Radice Lambrusco di Modena Rosé 2016
“To welcome guests into your home, bubbles announce it’s party time with style. Pretty pink bubbles! Paltrinieri Radice Lambrusco di Modena Rosé ($22) is playful, juicy, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s made by a husband and wife in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, home of fab hospitality and salty snacks.”

Knebel Riesling Mosel 2015
“A gulpable, guzzle-worthy, palate-refreshing player to quench your thirst in between bites of salty, fatty, gravy-covered-everything. Knebel Riseling Mosel ($22) is super fruity and floral smelling yet completely dry with ultra-tart acidity, so it’s mega-refreshing and wipes your palate clean between each bite. Pairs with everything on the table!”

G. Descombes Regnié 2015
“To prevent palate-fatigue as you go back for seconds, then thirds… G. Descombes Regnié ($23) is a funky-fresh, tart, red-fruited Cru Beaujolais from a regional superstar. Seriously, don’t even worry if you forgot the cranberry sauce. This will do the same trick… better.”

Massican Annia Napa Valley 2016
“To cope with bad company… Massican Annia Napa Valley ($33), an eccentric, bright yet broad-shouldered, northern Italian-inspired white blend of Ribolla Gialla, Tocai Friulano and Chardonnay, shows how disparate characters can find harmony — even beauty. [This is] elegance, diplomacy and poise in a bottle.”

Bodegas Grant La Garrocha Amontillado NV
“For family drama requiring fortification, try Bodegas Grant La Garrocha Amontillado sherry ($16) to keep the haters away. Stop freaking out. This isn’t sweet. It is fascinatingly nutty, caramelized and (most importantly) high in alcohol to help you deal with drama. It’ll also keep your pesky family members away. Drink it with squash soup, nuts, cheese or in between arguments.”

Bay Grape, 376 Grand Ave. (at Ellita), Oakland

Oakland Yard

Daniel Schmidt, co-owner of Oakland Yard in Temescal offered six affordable bottles that’ll go well with your Thanksgiving feast. When you visit to pick up your T-day wines, be sure to mention that you read about them in Nosh, as Schmidt is giving Nosh readers a 10% discount for a pack of all six wines ($99, plus tax). The six-pack comes with a free tote bag and free delivery. Readership has its privileges!

Matthiasson Tendu White (Liter) 2016
“Bright, citrus fruit and a lively acidity makes the Tendu ($20) a festive, food-friendly white. Crisp, dry and delightful.”

Domaine Alary La Grange Daniel Roussanne 2015
“Complex and textured, with floral notes and hints of pear, this winner from Domaine Alary of Rhone, France ($18) is an excellent autumn wine. It’s balanced and expressive with nuanced orchard fruit, providing a perfect complement to a variety of fall fare.”

Lioco Indica Rose 2016
“Beautiful and bone-dry, the Lioco 2016 Indica rose ($22) is still singing into the fall season. Crushed raspberries and rose water with hints of blood orange citrus, this would make an ideal pairing for your appetizers or a stellar selection for the main meal.”

Broc Cellars Love Red 2016
“Tangy and super fresh, this vibrant chillable red from Broc ($20) is pure delight. Lively, with high-toned fruit and some wild, red berry notes, this is a versatile wine that pairs well with just about any element of your Thanksgiving feast.”

Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Villages 2016
“A classic, and wonderfully affordable holiday option, this is a gorgeous Gamay with both vitality and structure. With black cherry and earthy pepper notes, it’s intensely satisfying and a steal at $16.”

Domaine de la Bastide Côtes du Rhône 2015
“Domaine de la Bastide Côtes du Rhône ($16) is a more robust option, with the bold, savory Syrah component balancing the riper Grenache fruit. Juicy with some spice, a fantastic and affordable cool-weather red.”

Oakland Yard, 420 40th St. (at Webster), Oakland

Paul Marcus Wines

Brooke Wagner at Paul Marcus Wines in Rockridge said it was difficult narrowing down her selection to these five that would go well with a Thanksgiving feast. She offers a range, from affordable to extravagant.

2016 Jean-Paul Brun L’Ancien Beaujolais
“The Jean-Paul Brun ($17) is a classic Beaujolais (100% Gamay). It’s is great every vintage.”

2015 Cameron Pinot Noir Dundee Hills
“Cameron’s Pinot ($36) from Dundee Hills over delivers for the price. This pinot is elegant with layers and layers of bright red fruit.”

2016 4 Kilos Motor America
“This bottling comes from Mallorca and is juicy with low-alcohol. Motor America ($21) is a great Beaujolais substitute.”

2016 Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett
“Our top grape varietal pick for Thanksgiving would have to be Riesling because of its versatility with food.  Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett ($28) is off-dry with excellent acidity, minerality and finesse.”

H. Billiot Champagne Brut Rose Grand Cru
“The Brut Rose ($54) is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  It is refreshing, not overly fruit and beautifully balanced.  It’s almost a little too easy to drink!”

Paul Marcus Wines, 5655 College Ave. (at Shafter), Oakland

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Sarah Han was the editor of Nosh from 2017 to 2021. Previously, she worked as an editor at The Bold Italic, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. In 2020, Sarah won SPJ NorCal's...