Wow! Chanukah is almost here again. It really feels like I just wrote last year’s article. L’havdil however, just like learning the Shas for the second, third or fourth time or repeating the same parsha every year, there are new chidushim every year. Each new vintage is different from the next.
Speaking of vintages, 2015 was an exceptional vintage in Bordeaux. There have been some other great vintages over the past 20 years, specifically in 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2014. There were, however, very few kosher Bordeaux wines from those vintages. With 2015, we are blessed to have an impressive and extensive selection of wines and at all price points.
While red Bordeaux wines are not necessarily the ideal wines to pair with the traditional dishes of Chanukah, namely latkes and donuts, the new releases can make great gifts for wine lovers. Those who would like to indulge and enjoy now should consider Château Le Crock, available now in a Mevushal version, which makes it a wine worthy of any self-respecting fine-dining kosher restaurant. It features notes of crushed blackberries, tobacco and menthol with a rich, velvety texture as well as caressing tannins with enough of a bite to cut through a juicy rib-eye steak.
One cannot recommend wines for Chanukah without having in mind the traditional deep-fried fare such as latkes and donuts. It may sound challenging to pair wine with latkes but it actually is pretty easy. A dry, crisp white wine or a sparkling wine will work wonders with almost anything deep-fried. Latkes are no exception. Koenig, the famous producer from the Alsace region of France, has just released its delicious and affordable Crémant d’Alsace Brut. Produced with the méthode Champenoise, it showcases medium-sized bubbles as well as delightful aromas and flavors of green apples, toasted bread and sour cream. Can’t beat that. A tart, flavorful white blend from Israel such as the Tabor Adama II Zohar would be an excellent alternative for those who do not appreciate bubbles in their wine. The blend includes unusual varietals such as French Colombard, Roussanne and Viognier and is fascinating with its potpourri of floral and exotic aromas.
With donuts, and especially those filled with jelly or chocolate, I would suggest only a sweet wine, for example, an original wine like the Zion Mihamartef. While it is not inexpensive by any means, it is worth experiencing, especially since it can be recorked and sipped over many months like a liquor. The Mihamartef is a sweet dessert wine that was aged for 35 years (!) in oak barrels in the cellars of the winery, in Israel. It has a thick, almost syrupy texture with notes of caramelized walnuts, dried figs, cinnamon and candied orange peels. According to a few experts, it has some similar characteristics with some very old sweet German Riesling which do not exist in a kosher version.
It is always a great deal of fun to pair wine with food and perhaps even more so with our customary Chanukah treats!
Chag Chanukah Sameyach! L’chaim!
By Gabriel Geller