Special To The Jewish Week
Light And Dry For ‘Thanksgivukah’

Four American wines for the hybrid holiday meal.

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Chanukah and Thanksgiving are both holidays in which food — latkes for Chanukah and roast turkey for Thanksgiving — is a significant part of the celebration. For the first time in 115 years, and for only the third time since President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, Thanksgiving will occur during the eight days of Chanukah. So for many American Jews, a meal combining fried latkes and “turkey with all the fixin’s” will be an absolute must for dinner on Thursday, Nov. 28. 

When serving such a heavy, fatty menu, one is going to want to steer clear of heavy, full-bodied wines — which can contribute to a sense of “palate fatigue” during the meal — in favor of dry, medium-bodied wines. Since Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrating American fortitude, I only like to serve American wines, and for this month’s Fruit of the Vine column, I found four moderately-priced American wines that will make lovely additions to your holidays’ table.

For the first course, whether it be soup or latkes, consider serving a dry sparkling wine. In addition to being festive in nature, dry sparkling wines pair well with fatty foods — the bubbles both stimulate the appetite and somehow seem to cut through the fat. 

One good choice is Hagafen’s 2007 Napa Valley Late Disgorge Brut Cuvee. Ernie Weir, the winemaker behind Hagafen Cellars got his winemaking start at Domaine Chandon, the California branch of the noted Champagne house of Moet et Chandon, where he clearly learned how to make a good Champagne-style sparkler.   While now nearing the end of its life, the 2007 Late Disgorge Brut Cuvee remains a delightful wine: With a peach color, a satiny mouth feel and a light moose of tiny bubbles, this blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay has flavors and aromas of apples, apricots, cream, chalk and hay, with a hint of spice. Look for a hint of fresh figs on the finish. Drink within the next six months.

Score B+ ($38.99. Available at Astor Wines & Spirits, 399 Lafayette St. [Manhattan], [212] 674-7500)

If seeking a still wine — red or white — to go with your main course of turkey and stuffing, you are going to want a dry, fruit-forward wine.

For a red, consider Agua Dulce’s 2010 Sierra Pelona Valley Syrah.  This wine was made by Craig Winchell, the onetime owner/winemaker of the late, lamented, Gan Eden Winery. Now he heads Agua Dulce’s winemaking team, where he produces a small amount of kosher wine. Medium bodied, with a youthful bright-garnet color, this syrah has a big nose of cherries, red currants, smoky oak, black pepper and spicy pipe tobacco. The flavor is dominated by cherries but has notes of black pepper, oak, violets, and herbs. This syrah also has a nice level of tannin. While drinking well now, this wine will be at its best between 2015 and 2017 and perhaps longer.

Score A-/B+ ($32.99. This wine is not yet distributed in the greater New York area, but is available online from Kosher wine.com and Liquidkosher.com)

For a white, consider Hagafen’s 2012 Napa Valley, Rancho Wieruszowski Vineyard, Dry White Riesling. Light-to-medium bodied, with a dark-straw color, this dry Riesling has a delightful bouquet of apricots, peaches, longans and citrus. Look for flavors of apricots, lichees and kiwis with an intriguing note of coconut on the palate, followed by citrus with a note of spice on the finish.  Crisp, well balanced and refreshing, this wine should drink well for the next three years.

Score A/A-. ($21. This wine will shortly be released in the New York area, but is currently available direct from the winery: www.hagafen.com, [888] 424-2336) 

Finally, to pair a wine with the obligatory pumpkin pie, you are going to want a sweet wine. Since, however, pumpkin itself is not overly sweet, when served as a dessert, one does not want to serve it with an overly sweet wine. The ever-popular Moscato di Asti would be a good choice to serve with pumpkin pie. However if you’d rather have a wine that is a bit out of the ordinary, and one that will also be a good visual compliment to pumpkin pie, think Orange Muscat.

Herzog’s Late Harvest Orange Muscat, 2011 is a sweet, medium-bodied, pale-orange colored wine, with flavors and aromas of oranges, tangerines, rambutans and apricots, and a lovely note of spice. Ready to drink now, this wine should be able to cellar for another two or three years.

Score B+.  ($16.95.  Available at Skyview Wine & Spirits, 5681 Riverdale Ave. [Riverdale], [718] 548-323.)

Chanukah and Thanksgiving will next overlap in 2165, so enjoy this rare convergence. I wish you a happy Thanksgiving, a Chanukah sameach, and bon appétit!

Please note: Wines are scored on an ‘A’-‘F’ scale where ‘A’ is excellent, ‘B’ is good, ‘C’ is flawed, ‘D’ is very flawed, and ‘F’ is undrinkable.  Prices listed reflect the price at the retailer mentioned. 

Last Update:

12/02/2013 - 06:05


I don't think many people know that making kosher wines requires the winery to discriminate against non-Jews and women. So I love Israeli wines and drink them on Jewish holidays, but not kosher wines, which conflict with the values I hold about ethnic and gender equality.

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