Wine That Sparkles for the Festival of Lights
Jewish cuisine in America is at a high point, as chefs and culinary entrepreneurs across the country enthusiastically deconstruct, reinvent and elevate classic Jewish food.
Parallel to this, we are in the midst of an Israeli wine revolution. Wineries in Israel, to global recognition, are honing their skills and harnessing the continuity of an ancient industry. Kosher wine has also come of age, with very good examples coming from some of the world’s best wine regions — with more of a selection available in our market than ever before.
As Hanukkah approaches, we look forward to the holiday’s most succulent and quintessential food: latkes. The latke at Russ & Daughters Cafe on New York City’s Lower East Side is a perfect example of this delicacy: three golden patties of onion and potato with a dollop of wild salmon roe and crème fraîche. I can hardly think of anything as decadent and delicious as this beautiful marriage of texture and flavor — except to picture all of it with a glass of bubbly.
Think of champagne and other sparklers as the latke’s perfect holiday partner. Fried foods connote the symbolism of oil used in the Temple, and a glass of bubbly is luminous. Consider the constellation in your glass, the chatter of tiny bubbles, as a sensual reminder of the miracle of light.
Not only is champagne the world’s most celebratory beverage, it is a supremely elegant counterpoint to the oiliness of the latke. Its tartness and texture will refresh your palate between bites, while the saltiness of the pancake brings out the fruit and mineral edge of Brut Champagne.
Try these kosher sparklers at your Hanukkah celebration. Serve them well chilled in a wine glass or flute.
Gilgal Nature Brut NV (Galilee, Israel) $19.99 A blend of equal parts chardonnay and pinot noir. Tart and lively with flavors of lemon, lime and pear, this traditional method Brut is an outstandingly good value. With no sugar added before bottling, it stands out for its pronounced acid structure and raciness. Grapes are grown on a cool, volcanic plateau in the Golan Heights.
Taanug Cava Brut NV (Catalonia, Spain) $16.99 50% xarel-lo, 20% macabeo, 20% parellada. A fruity cava with flavors of golden apple, honey and hints of tropical fruit. Lively and balanced, with some minerality. Made by Bodegas Pinord, in Vilafranca del Penedes.
Jean Michel Carte Blanche Brut (Champagne, France) $59.99 100% pinot meunier (from old, 50-plus-year-old vines). Elegant floral and mineral aromas, with notes of apple and brioche. Jean Michel is a family-owned and -operated grower champagne house established in 1847. Located in the Premier Cru commune of Moussy, it specializes in growing and making wine from the grape pinot meunier. Organic.
Sadie Flateman is a professional wine buyer and specialist in wines of Israel. She lives in New York and has a big appetite.