Chanukah is the celebration of many miracles. The menorah and its candles symbolize these miracles and our desire and commitment to telling about them to the world. They also remind us to keep our faith in Hashem watching over Am Yisrael even in the most difficult times. Chanukah should not merely be the holiday of lights but of the enlightenment. Watching the lit-up menorah is a great time to contemplate Hashem’s marvels. It is a good time to sip and enjoy some good wine. Not only wines that we often purchase for Shabbos, but to check out new and different wines, as well. While contemplating the burning candles, it is an opportunity to take careful note of a wine’s aromatic profile, and appreciate its texture and flavors.
Some wines are particularly enlightening. They can change our preconceptions about a particular region, style, or grape variety. Sophisticated wine drinkers often believe that flavorful and complex wines enough to be worthy of their consideration must cost a lot of money. The reality is that such wines can be found below $15/bottle.
The Baron Herzog Old Vines Zinfandel 2019, for example, features juicy red and black fruit aromas, with a deep flavor of strawberry jam and baking spices. Many consider red wines to be of superior quality than whites. Did you know that out of the top five most expensive wines in the world, two are white wines? Château Malartic-Lagravière in Bordeaux has produced several kosher wines since 2003. Their red wine from the 2018 vintage is truly excellent. However, they recently released for the first time a kosher production of their white wine from the 2019 vintage that is stunning. While it is certainly not inexpensive, its remarkable complexity and cellaring potential prove that it is as good as its red counterpart.
The best Israeli wines usually are varietal Cabernet Sauvignon wines or Bordeaux-style blends. Psagot Winery’s new flagship wine is called Psagot Jewel 2017. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. It is a richly aromatic wine, and it shows that unique Israeli wines can be rich, complex, and layered. If you insist on new recommendations for wines to pair with latkes and sour cream, get your hands on the Ramon Cardova Albariño 2019. This delicious and affordable Spanish white combines lime, earthy mineral and saline notes, making it a natural choice with that Chanukah staple food. Beware, though. It goes so well together that you may want to indulge and enjoy it more often than just on Chanukah.
The Herzog Late Harvest Zinfandel is a classic. The 2019 is a red dessert wine very much worth enjoying with jelly or chocolate-filled donuts. It is even brighter in taste than usual, with good acidity and amazing strawberry jam and vanilla notes. Let us celebrate Hashem’s great miracles with a great L’chaim!