Say what you will about Christmas ham, but know this: with Hanukkah comes some of the most fingerlickin’ good feasts around. Traditional dishes straddle savory and sweet in wonderful ways that keep Jews (and non-Jews trying to get in on the action) coming back to the table.
However, the delicate balance between a table exhibiting salty, savory and sweet all at once does not always make life easy when it comes to picking out a few bottles of vino to wash it all down with. With that in mind, and eight nights worth of dinners to plan for, we’ve come up with our very own Hanukkah food and wine pairing guide.
Feast your eyes, and then just feast.
Brisket doesn’t always come with Texans and hickory smokers as big as trailers- it’s often served on Hanukkah, which is a great thing if you share our belief that more brisket leads to a better life (at least in a spiritual sense).
For fatty red meat with tons of savory flavors you’ll want a wine that can compete with all that protein. Most often the key to matching red meat comes in the form of a big, spicy red. Think Malbec, Shiraz or a Côtes-du-Rhône. These wines will match the intensity and the big mouth-feel of the meat you’re about to eat way too much of.
If you’ve ever had a jelly doughnut or even a “Boston Creme” then you know what Sufganiyot (an Israeli fried confection filled with jelly and topped with sugar) are all about. You might not know what to drink with ’em though.
This traditional doughnut offers glimpses of savory and sweet in one fell swoop, which is why we’d opt for a semi-dry Rosé. While most associate the pink drink with summer, it has characteristics of both red and white wines, which makes it one of the most versatile styles around. You’ll get a little bit of sweet and jammy to match the jelly and sugar, but enough dryness and acidity to cut through that fried feel and keep your mouth from going into a sugar coma. And yes, Rosé does come in sparkling form… so have at it!
Latkes are the devilishly delicious “Hanukkah version” of French Fries. They’re savory and salty as ever, but are traditionally dipped in applesauce which adds some sugar to the situation. In order to take on this classic holiday dish we’re calling upon sparkling wine, the ultimate pairing for all things fried!
If you go for some bubbly that’s mostly dry (look for the word Brut on the bottle) you won’t be disappointed. That little kick of sugar will link up with the applesauce while the crispiness and acid and will cut through that potato effortlessly and effervescently. You can’t go wrong with this one.