Top 5 Kosher Wines for Hanukkah

Not all kosher wine is syrupy gunk. We've rounded up an international mix of top-notch varietals
By Howard G. Goldberg

1. Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Palomino Fino (Spain, nonvintage)
(About $20)

Kosher sherry isn't an oxymoron. Gonzalez Byass, the great sherry
bodega in Jerez de la Frontera, Andalucia, broadens the spectrum
of modern Jewish wines with this rabbinically supervised extra-dry
fino; it offers woody, olivelike aroma and flavors just like the
regular version. While fino can be used for kiddush, the prayer
over wine at a sabbath or seder dinner, it can simultaneously do
double duty as an incomparable aperitif. Afterward it may
accompany chicken and fish dishes.


Meaty Recipe Pairing:

Chicken with Lemons, Green Olives, and Capers
Mediterranean flavors, embodied by olives, make for an ideal fino mate-lemons and capers add zing. Tip: Sip the high-alcohol fino slowly.

Meatless Recipe Pairing:

Smoked Fish with Fennel and Arugula Salad
In Spain, tapas and fino are a classic combination. This recipe's thinly cut morsels are stand-ins for tapas.

2. Goose Bay 2008 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (New
Zealand)
($21)

Although Goose Bay Chardonnay, made by Spencer Hill
Estate, can brighten a first course, so too can the Sauvignon
Blanc. The 2008 displays the signature grassy scent and
aroma of Kiwi Sauvignons. This bold, succulent version also
manages to be creamy and zippy, and offers a long finish. Pair
it with a salad, but hold the vinegar.



Meaty Recipe Pairing:

A '90s Twist to a Grandmother's Roast Chicken
Unlike California Chardonnays that overwhelm mild poultry, this one's zippy acidity lets the delicate white-meat flavor come through.

Meatless Recipe Pairing:

Salmon Trout Poached in White Wine
The Chardonnay's weight and delicacy, reflecting the fish's lightness, does not trounce the salmon.

3. Flechas de Los Andes 2008 Gran Malbec (Argentina)
($20)

This hearty, sultry, spicy, mouth-filling dark-ruby wine offers
raspberry, chocolate, dark licorice, and lightly oaky flavors
along with soft tannins. It is produced in Mendoza Province by
Baron Benjamin de Rothschild and Laurent Dassault, the
French investor and owner of Chateau Dassault in St. Emilion.





Meaty Recipe Pairing:

Beef Brisket with Dried Fruit, Yams, and Carrots
The red's enticing fruitiness flirts-and marries perfectly-with the sweetness of the apricots, prunes, and yams in the recipe.

Meatless Recipe Pairing:

Zingerman's Mushroom and Barley Soup
Talk about heartiness! What is more reviving than the forest-and-field earthiness in a warming, ingratiating red?

4. Segal's 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve
(Israel)
($20)

This juicy, fruity, lingering red made from grapes grown in the
Galilee region is rich in cassis and shows tobacco notes. It is
such a pleasure-giver that wine lovers could easily adopt it as
an everyday house wine. Although owned by Barkan, Israel's
second-largest producer, the Segal label shows its own artful
style.



Meaty Recipe Pairing:

Roast Goose with Caramelized Apples
This classic dish is French and, when washed down by a quasi-Bordeaux, transforms into a treat worthy of holiday festivities.

Meatless Recipe Pairing:

Potato and Green Olive Stew
The spicily scented melange of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and olives-all standard in stews-is hearty enough to pair with this Bordeaux blend.

5. Herzog 2008 Late Harvest Clarksburg Chenin Blanc
(California)
($20)

Herzog's Chenin Blanc has been a nosher's darling for years.
This charming white oscillates on the palate in a yin-and-yang
way: one moment near-sweet, the next seemingly dry. It has a
honeylike golden-raisin scent and flavor. It is light, not cloying,
and tangy and full of verve. Expect a long finish. The low
alcohol (9 percent) induces the desire for a third glass.



Fruity Dessert Pairing:

Strawberry Compote with Blood-Orange Juice
Although this light white wine is a self-contained dessert, it becomes a playmate when fresh-fruit dishes reach the table.

Baked Dessert Pairing:

Honey Apple Cake

In the Jewish culinary idiom, a honey-and-apple combo symbolizes hoped-for happiness. Chenin enhances this desire.

Prices and availability subject to change.

Howard G. Goldberg, former senior editor of the Op-Ed page of The
New York Times, where he worked 34 years, writes that newspaper's
"Wine Under $20" and "Long Island Vines" features, which appear on
Sundays. He is American auction correspondent of
Decanter magazine
in London and East Coast correspondent of decanter.com, and a
columnist for
Wine News, a bimonthly magazine published in Coral
Gables, Florida.



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