Friday, September 18, 2020

The two holidays on the Jewish calendar symbolizing simcha (joy) the most—Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret-Simchat Torah—are coming upon us. They are indeed referred to in our machzorim as Zman Simchateinu, as the time of our joy. These holidays being attached to one another make it the longest holiday in the Jewish calendar. For eight to nine days (depending on if you live in Eretz Yisrael or in Chutz La’aretz), we will be celebrating with the utmost simcha together with our loved ones. Now that’s a lot of meals to prepare and dishes to wash!

Baruch Hashem, when it comes to wines and spirits the only efforts required are choosing the best bottles to enjoy and opening up our wallets. While only one bottle a day may not suffice, please do allow me to recommend at least one bottle for each day that I believe to be worthy of your Yom Tov table.

For the first day of Sukkot a luxurious Chardonnay such as the Domaine du Castel ‘C’ Blanc du Castel 2017 will compliment even heavier dishes such a chicken casserole or a cassoulet, as it sports the body and structure to carry and match the weight of such dishes. On the second night, how about a special liquor to warm ourselves up?


The Righteous Seven is a unique and delicious cordial made from the Shiv’at Haminim, the Seven Species of Eretz Yisrael: wheat, barley, fig, date, olive, grape and pomegranate. It’s been booming almost ever since it was launched a few months ago, and it has grown even more popular since it was awarded multiple gold medals in prestigious spirits competitions.

How about some Scotch or Cognac on the third night of Sukkot after Havdala? These are classy spirits that are great to sip while relaxing a bit in the sukkah with your guests. The Louis Royer VSOP is best enjoyed in a large Cognac glass allowing the aromas to enhance the atmosphere while it warms up in your hand. The Ben Èideann Galilean Ruby provides a special experience; this genuine Highland Single Malt Scotch whisky was aged in wine barrels from Israel, and is certified kosher by the Badatz Ha’Eida Ha’Chareidis. This is a tremdously smooth whisky with lots of depth and complexity.

Sukkot can have its warm days sometimes. A refreshing white wine for lunch on Chol Hamoed such as the Barkan Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2018 will make you forget all about the heat. It is vibrant and lively, full of well-balanced citrus and kiwi notes.

One of the staple dishes for Sukkot is stuffed cabbage. The mixture of the cabbage and its ground meat together with the tomato sauce provides a lot of different textures and flavors at once. The Herzog Special Reserve Quartet 2015 or the Lineage Choreograph 2017 should have the weight to match and add even more flavors while enjoyed alongside this dish.

Sukkot might also be the last chance to enjoy rosé while some are still available for purchase from the stores. The Latour Netofa Rosado 2018 surely is one of the most special ones out there, probably because it is made from tempranillo. Drink it on the night of Shemini Atzeret with some fine salami and beef prosciutto.

Simchat Torah calls for some extra special bottles to rejoice with after hours of dancing and singing in shul with the sifrei Torah. While there is a growing selection of top-notch kosher Bordeaux, one of the most prestigious ones is Château Cantenac Brown 2015, a third classified growth from Margaux. While it can be cellared for several decades, it is already impressive now. It is, however, strongly recommended to decant these high-end wines for a few hours as to allow the tannins to soften out and the aromas to blossom.

Before heading back to shul for more davening and dancing on the morning of Simchat Torah, don’t forget to put a bottle of Boukha Bokobsa Prestige in the freezer. The delicate notes of fig are most amazing when it is served ice cold. Chag sameach, l’chaim!

Gabriel Geller is a wine consultant for Royal Wines.