Hanuka, Chanukah, Hannukka—is there a “correct” spelling? I guess it depends who you ask. Another question that prompts much debate is what wine to serve with a particular dish. Much like the spelling of Chanukah, there is no one answer. The most important thing is to pick a wine you like…don’t worry about the “rules” for wine pairing. That said, there are some guidelines you can follow that may help you discover a new favorite.
As Chanukah kicks into full gear, fried/oily foods such as latkes take center stage. The best pairing for these foods is one that will refresh your palate such as a nice bubbly (aka Sparkling wines; aka Champagne). Some people save Champagne for special occasions, but this is a great way to miss out on some great wine! Much like beer, it is a refreshing sparkling beverage, just made with grapes instead of grains. Not all sparkling wine is expensive Champagne. Bartenura Prosecco from Italy or Elvi Adar Brut Cava from Spain are more economical examples of delicious sparkling wine. And if you want to go all out for Chanukah, which is a tremendous simcha, Drappier Champagne is perfect.
Again, much like beer, these sparkling wines can be enjoyed throughout any meal, but, for many of us, the main course will beckon something red. Sure you can grab a big, robust Cabernet Sauvignon, such as the spectacular Flam Reserve. Or you can go for a big and spicy Shiraz, such as the Carmel Kayoumi Shiraz. But think about trying something a little less robust. The less tannic red wines tend to pair with a more diverse range of foods and are also more crowd pleasing to large audiences, so this works well if you are having lots of people at your seudah. Goose Bay Pinot Noir from New Zealand is a nice medium bodied red wine. Shiloh Legend is a blend that is also rich and fruity but not too full bodied. And along these lines grab an Italian wine from Ovadia estates, such as the new Chianti Riserva or Nobile di Montepulciano. Italians take pride in making wine that goes with food, so these wines should complement your meals, not overpower them.
Last, but certainly not least, is something with the donuts. And for that matter, it’s something for the sweet beverage person in your party. There are lots of us out there who enjoy sweet drinks both throughout the meal and with dessert. If it is okay to add sugar to coffee or tea, it is okay to drink a wine with some sweetness. The obvious choice here is the ever famous Blue Bottle Bartenura Moscato. But don’t stop there, be adventurous! Herzog Reserve makes a scrumptious Orange Muscat late harvest dessert wine. And there are some alternative sweet drinks, such as Morad’s Passion Fruit wine or a liqueur that is guaranteed to go great with cream filled donuts: the Walders Vodka Vanilla liqueur.
Sparklling, light and fruity or luscious and sweet, whatever your preference, just add great food, friends and family and you have perfect pairings for Chanukah (however you spell it!)
And don’t forget, drink what you like and have a safe and fun (early) holiday season!