As opposed to Purim, Pesach, or even Succot, Shavuot is typically not a holiday that people associate with drinking wine. As we celebrate Matan Torah, the custom is to learn Torah all night long in its honor. Yes, wine can induce drowsiness. That usually happens when one is already tired, to begin with, and/or when wine (or other alcoholic beverages) is consumed without adequate moderation. Let us make sure we fully honor Shavuot’s status as a major Yom Tov, one of the Shalosh Regalim. It is appropriate to drink wine to mark the celebration properly. One should sanctify Shavuot and bless a wine of quality to add joy to the meal. The minhag in many communities is to eat a milchig meal. Whether it is followed by a fleishig one or not, there is a plethora of amazing rose, white and sparkling wines that will pair with the delicious food and enhance chag.
The white wines from Alsace in France are famous for their refreshing and acidic quality while maintaining the price tags at a reasonable level. For close to seventy years, the wines from Koenig have been representing the region for kosher wine as they are the result of centuries of accumulated knowledge, tradition, and craftsmanship. Baruch Hashem, despite the obvious global climate changes that we have been noticing in recent years, the weather in Alsace is still not as predictable and consistent as it is in California, or in Eretz Yisrael. If you are looking for the one wine that can accompany a meal from start to finish, look no further than the Koenig Cremant. It is a sparkling wine made from Pinot Blanc grapes, with the same winemaking technique as Champagne.
The weather has warmed up quite a bit, and we just experienced the first heatwave of the season on the East Coast. Rosé wines are now enjoyed year-round, but they still symbolize summer more than any other type of wine. They also pair beautifully with salads, appetizers, and milchig meals in general, including pasta and fish. Perhaps even more important, they are perfect to drink as a cool refresher.
Take for instance the Shiloh Rosé 2021. This Israeli Rosé has an intense pink color, as well as tantalizing aromas and flavors of strawberries, pomegranate, and watermelon. It would accompany some light snacks such as pickles and roasted nuts, but also would be a wonderful accompaniment to a feta cheese salad with black olives and sun-dried tomatoes.
High-quality red Bordeaux wines are typically aged for one to two years in oak barrels, followed by at least one more year at the winery once bottled. Therefore the current vintages on the market now are 2018-19. For those of you who are familiar with these wines, you certainly have noticed the Château Haut Condissas 2019 from the Medoc region. One of their best wines so far, and considering the previous vintages, that’s quite a statement. And then, at a more affordable price point, there is the Herzog Special Reserve Alexander Valley 2019, always an amazing value from Sonoma in California, where some of the best Cabernet in the world hail from. Both these wines are supremely rich and elegant, already showing their promise and they should also age and evolve wonderfully for many years to come.
Hagafen Winery in Napa Valley makes an impressive off-dry Riesling from the Lake County appellation. The 2020 release is simply gorgeous, very much affordable around $20-25, and a crowd-pleaser, enjoyed by sophisticated and casual drinkers alike. I love riesling because of its versatility with food. With its great acidity, mineral/earthy notes, and subtle sweetness, as well as with its apple and Meyer lemon aromas, it can be sublime with a full-flavored cheese such as an aged pecorino as much as it can cut through the savory flavors of a veal risotto.
Last but not least, dessert. The Teperberg Late Harvest Riesling 2020, this one full-on sweet, which is simply perfect to sip alongside a piece of a traditional cheesecake. It is light, fluffy even, with aromas of ripe peach, citrus blossom, and green fig jam with excellent acidity which is just perfect to cut through the creaminess of the cake. The thought of this combination alone is mouth-watering.
Chag Sameach! L’chaim!