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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Shavuos is the holiday on which the Am Yisrael celebrates Matan Torah from God at the foot of Har Sinai. There is a well-known custom of eating dairy meals during this holiday. One of the reasons is that Am Yisrael became obligated then to keep all the laws of kashrus. Since the Torah was given on Shabbos they could not slaughter animals that day according to Halacha and therefore could not eat meat. While the celebratory meals on the Yomim Tovim usually include and combine meat and wine, eating dairy on Shavuos does not mean wine should be left out. To the contrary, many wines can be paired and match fish and dairy dishes.

Shavuos also is the holiday of the first fruits. It was the day on which the Jews could bring to the Bais Hamikdash in Yerushalaim the bikurim, the first fruits harvested in their fields as offerings.

The first wines to be released from last year’s vintage are white and rosé wines. Those wines are fruity, refreshing and can accompany a wide array of dairy and fish delicacies.

Take for instance the Elvi Vina Encina Rosado 2017. This Spanish rosé wine is made from Tempranillo grapes, which provide a beautiful cherry pink color to the wine as well as a mouthful of fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and cantaloupe. Does it sound like a fruit salad? You bet! It would accompany fresh fruits or a fruit salad nicely but also soft cheeses such as goat cheese and mozzarella. Mozzarella served with sun-dried tomatoes and basil as a Caprese Insalata or as a pizza topping would be wonderfully complimented by an earthy and slightly spicy red wine such as the Chianti Classico Riserva 2012 from Terra di Seta. This amazing wine has recently gathered some impressive 93 and 92 scores from the prestigious Wine Spectator and Decanter magazines! It boasts aromas and flavors of ripe cherries, baking spices and Mediterranean herbs as well as a juicy texture.

Carmel winery in Israel makes an impressive dry Riesling from its world-class Kayoumi vineyard (the Shiraz from that vineyard is also well worth trying!). One of the things I love about Riesling is its versatility with food. With its core acidity, funky mineral/earthy notes as well as with its green apple and lime aromas, it can be sublime with a full-flavored cheese such as an aged, sharp cheddar as much as it can cut through the savory flavors of a veal chop Milanese.

The new Chardonnay 2016 from Herzog in its Lineage series is also well worthy of consideration. While its compatibility with Chicken Paillard is undeniable, it will take a simple toast topped with Brie cheese to the next level. Medium-bodied with light, creamy notes of butter and sour cream, it showcases fresh tropical fruit aromas as well.

Domaine Les Marronniers Chablis 2016 is also a Chardonnay but one would not guess that so easily. The style of the wines from Burgundy’s Chablis appellation in France are much leaner and more mineral than many of their rich, buttery California counterparts. Here is a light yet complex wine with notes of lemon pith, fresh almonds and pears.

Last but not least, dessert. The Herzog Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2016 which is already delicious on its own would be even more delicious with a piece of classic New York cheesecake. The pleasant sweetness together with the classic aromas of peach, apricot, table grapes and orange zest will upgrade your Shavuos dessert more than you could ever imagine!

Chag Sameach! L’chaim!

By Gabriel Geller