Thanksgiving and Chanukah: Chanukah and Thanksgiving – “Thanksgivukkah”! Whatever it was being called and whichever part you most looked forward to celebrating, it was tantalizing to us. Maybe you had some turkey, certainly some latkes, and in all likelihood an all-around assortment of good food (not to mention the doughnuts).
Add great people and you have a wonderful recipe for a great time, with just one missing ingredient. The one thing that takes any meal and makes it an occasion. It is the wine (and other adult beverages).
But what wine to drink? There are so many fabulous kosher wines on the market these days it is so hard to choose. And while we all have a favorite or two it is always fun to try new stuff.
You have heard it before, but it bears repeating: 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.
With Thanksgiving, it is said that big and bold red wines such as Cabernet or Shiraz will overpower the delicate flavors of turkey. A rich mushroom or other savory gravy can definitely help add some robustness to the turkey so it will better hold up to a bold and robust wine.
And if bold red wines are what you like, bold red wines are what you should drink!
Thanksgiving is an American holiday where people often drink the quintessential American wine, Zinfandel. The Baron Herzog OLD VINE Zin is a big (but not overpowering) red wine that will go great with meat or Turkey.
If you prefer to stick with the familiar Cabernet Sauvignon wines, the Herzog Reserve Alexander Valley and Binyamina Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon are familiar favorites. For something new, keep your eyes out for a new Single Vineyard Cabernet from Carmel (“Samuka vineyard”). If a nice spicy Shiraz is what you, like check out the recent arrival Teal Lake Reserve Shiraz or the new Mt Tabor Shiraz.
Two other more “traditional” Thanksgiving wines are Pinot Noir (a light bodied red that won’t overpower turkey and goes nicely with cranberry sauce) and Chardonnay…a rich white that goes well with white meat turkey. Good examples here are Goose Bay Pinot Noir and Barkan Reserve Chardonnay.
As Chanuka kicks into full gear, fried/greasy 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 which I think is a mistake. Much like beer it is a refreshing sparkling beverage ““ just that this one is made of grapes instead of grains. Remember, 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 Chanuka which is a tremendous simcha, Drappier Champagne is perfect.
Last, but certainly not least is something with the donuts. And for that matter, something for the sweet beverage person in your party. There are lots of us out there, whether we enjoy that sweet drink for dessert or throughout the meal it is nothing to be ashamed of. If it is OK to add sugar to coffee or tea it is OK 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.
Bold and robust, light and fruity or luscious and sweet, whatever your preference, do not forget to make the upcoming Thanksgiving and Chanuka meals memorable experiences that will last. Wine rounds out a meal and makes us feel good. Drink what you like and have a safe and fun (early) holiday season!