Double Your Drinking Pleasure | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Double Your Drinking Pleasure

Double Your Drinking Pleasure

A Chanukah/New Year’s Eve roundup of festive seasonal libations.

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Chanukah and New Year’s Eve coincide this year, so festive libations are most definitely in order. Whether having friends and family around for cocktails and candles, or for a full-on celebratory dinner party, adult beverage offerings are a must.

Celebratory wines, whether bubbly or sweet, suit the Chanukah season’s festivities and make for great gifts. Dessert-style table wines pair well with Chanukah’s rich foods, such as latkes with applesauce or sour cream. They also offer a lower-calorie sweet alternative for those who eschew fried jelly donuts, chocolate coins and the like. 

The pairing of sweet wines with salty foods can be magical — making sweet wine taste less sweet and salty foods merely less savory. The two flavors seem to counteract each other a bit, allowing both to shine.

Further, sweet wines may be paired beautifully with both sweet and salty foods. Just as chocolate-covered pretzels or kettle corn can be wonderful, Champagne, Spanish cava or Italian prosecco also go very well with salt and fat, which make them ideal for winter festivities. The bubbles alone tend to induce good cheer. Sparkling wines and still white wines with great acidity yet a little residual sugar, like a good riesling or an Alsatian gewurtz, should work beautifully with fried fatty and starchy foods like potato latkes.


Here are a handful of fun, festive wines to consider serving at, or bringing to, a Chanukah and New Year’s bash:

Herzog, Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg, 2015 ($25; mevushal): This luscious, aromatic, fruity, yet serious sweet wine offers aromas and flavors of pear, honey, peach, apricot, mandarin oranges, mango, custard, and a smidgen of candied ginger. Enough acidity and complexity to keep it both balanced and interesting. Mighty tasty.


Hafner, Icewine Gewürztraminer, Kosher, Burgenland, Austria, 2010 ($35; mevushal; organic): Rich and luscious with honeyed fruit, crushed juniper berry, baked cinnamon, candied orange and grapefruit, lemon zest, with some candied nuttiness, orange blossom, and slight anise or black licorice twang in the lengthy finish. Juicy sweet yet somehow also controlled and tart, this is complex and fabulous.


Covenant, Zahav, Late Harvest Muscat Canelli, Suisin Valley, 2014 ($44; half bottle): This fabulous, rich, sweet wine offers aromas and flavors of apricot, honey, honeysuckle, peach, raisins, candied nuts, overripe tropical fruits, and orange peel. The finish is a tad clipped at first, but as it breaths, it lingers with some additional sweet complexity.


Hagafen Cellars, Dry White Riesling, Coombsville Napa Valley, Rancho Weiruszowsky Vineyard, 2014 ($24; mevushal): This light, bright, bracing, dry riesling is superb with a nose of lychee, peach, lemon zest, and a touch of ginger-heavy allspice, following through on the palate to flavors of under-ripe white peach, grapefruit, and Meyer lemon. Clean, vibrant, and refreshing throughout.


Abarbanel, Old Vine Riesling, Batch 66, Vin D’Alsace, France, 2012 ($19; mevushal): This lovely if slightly restrained wine offers classic citrus-flint and floral aromatics followed on the palate with the fresh, racy tang of citrus, spice, and herbs, with enough of the acidity and nerve one associates with Alsace to keep it vivacious and food-friendly.


Abarbanel, Lemminade, Gewurztraminer, Vin D’Alsace, Old-Vine, 2015 ($23; non-mevushal): This is a beautiful, bright, vibrant, somewhat rounded yet refreshing, and very slightly sweet gewurtz, with tingly acidity and wonderful aromas and flavors of white peach, lychee, and wild flowers, with notes of ginger and cloves. Serve only slightly chilled with poultry, Asian cuisine, or Cajun cooking.


As for bubbly:

Champagne Bonnet-Ponson, Brut, Premier Cru, Kosher Edition ($65): This wonderfully fruited, creamy Champagne with fine, intense, and endless bubbles, is a blend of 60 percent pinot noir and 40 percent chardonnay, with 30 percent reserve wines blended in for greater depth and finesse. It offers deep aromas and lovely flavors of lemon zest, baked apple, green apple, citrus, peach and cream, flaky and buttery pie crust, toasted brioche, almonds, and fresh yeasty bread. Refreshing and delicious.


Champagne Laurent-Perrier, Brut, Kosher Edition ($80): This first-rate, light to medium bodied blend of 45 percent chardonnay, 40 percent pinot noir, and 15 percent pinot meunier (different from Laurent-Perrier’s usual house blend of 50-35-15) is refined and balanced, yet fun and easy, with fine, concentrated, endless bubbles and lovely notes of citrus peel, minerals, and nuts, all with a lovely dollop of fresh berries in the lengthy finish. This is really superb champagne.


Champagne Drappier, Carte d’Or, Brut (in the $50 range; mevushal): Opens with citrus, tart apple, and toasty aromas that lead into lemon, stone fruit, red berry and yeasty bread flavors with accents of spice and minerals extending into a lingering brightly acidic finish. A solid and most enjoyable bubbly.


Champagne Pommery, Brut Royal, Champagne, Kosher Edition ($40): This lovely if somewhat fruity blend of one-third chardonnay, one-third pinot noir, and one-third pinot meunier is full-bodied and offers large, vibrant bubbles with full aromas of ripe peaches, cream and toasted white bread, with a flowery element in the background. This is followed by flavors of the same along with some mid-palate raspberry notes, a touch of citrus in the lengthy finish, all with an appealing earthy quality. Delicious.


Champagne Barons de Rothschild Brut Cuvée ($90; mevushal): A complex assemblage of 60 percent chardonnay and 40 percent pinot noir, with 40 percent reserve wines blended in for added quality and consistency; this is dry, elegant, and restrained, with aromas and flavors of green apple, pear, lemon peel, white peach, toast, pie-crust, almonds and hazelnuts, and with a lovely, chalky minerality and wonderfully balancing acidity. Managing to be austere and creamy, focused yet breezy, this is delightful and entertaining now, but holds much promise of things to come with some additional aging.

L’Chaim! 

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