When I first moved to San Francisco six years ago, I recall thinking: “Oh, hell yes, I’m going to learn so much about wine!” But the truth is, Napa Valley is a good ways away from SF. And my friends and I were usually too broke from actually living in the pricey Bay Area to be able to afford the nice wines (and wine country) that were just a stone’s throw away from our overpriced apartments.
Lucky for me, in addition to being the craft beer capital of the US, my new home city of Portland can also hold its own when it comes wine. The best part? I can actually afford to indulge in some of the gorgeous varietals that are born out of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Hooray! (Come on, California readers. You know exactly what I’m talking about!)
But the one varietal that Oregon is most well known for is the pinot noir. This slightly acidic, medium-bodied wine appears on nearly every restaurant wine list that I stumble upon. It dominates the shelves at specialty wine stores. It even sneaks into dishes in home kitchens and restaurants throughout the city, leaving traces of soft, bright acid on any dish it touches. It’s quite literally the queen of Oregon wines.
So for Thanksgiving this year, with the help of this fun state-by-state Turkey Day Guide from the NYT, I’ve found a way to incorporate this beautiful local wine into my Thanksgiving feast (besides just for drinking) in the form of a Pinot Noir Cranberry Sauce. Truth be told, I’m generally not a huge fan of cranberry sauce on Turkey Day. The table is usually overflowing with more delectable, rich foods for me to care about something as banal as cranberries. But I figured if the cranberry sauce has wine in it too, maybe it will hold a more prominent place on my plate. Oh how right I was.
Plus can’t we all use a little extra vino when it comes to Thanksgiving? I vote yes.
PS to my regular readers: Sorry for the shortage of photos on this one! My kitchen is crazy in the hours leading up to Turkey Day, but I felt like you needed to have this amazing recipe.
Pinot Noir Cranberry Sauce
- 4 cups of fresh (or thawed frozen) cranberries
- 1.5 cups of pinot noir, preferably from Oregon (I used Crawley Wines)
- 1 cup of light brown sugar
- 1 cup of honey
- the juice of 2 oranges
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 vanilla pod
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
Combine the cranberries, wine, sugar, honey, orange juice, rosemary, cinnamon, and ground spices in a medium saucepan. Add the seeds from the vanilla pod to the saucepan by slicing the pod lengthwise and then scraping them out. Add the de-seeded pod to the pot along with the rosemary. Stir until ingredients are mixed.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, smash some of the cranberries (about half) against the side of the pot. Continue simmering for another 10-20 minutes, or until it has reached your desired thickness. Remove from the heat.
Once sauce has cooled, remove the rosemary and vanilla pod from the pot. Transfer to a bowl, serve to guests, and take a minute to finish the rest of that bottle of delicious pinot noir!
This can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Cranberry sauce should be served either at room temperature or chilled. I prefer mine at room temp.
Recipe adapted from the New York Times.