The Jewish “Festival of Light” holiday—Hanukkah—lasts for eight days and nights, celebrating the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem during a period of rebellion around 160 BC. Hanukkah involves many rituals and one of the richest, literally, is the food of Hanukkah: latkes, doughnuts, and a myriad of fried foods.
The latter are typically served during Hanukkah because they are a reminder of the oil that miraculously kept the Temple menorah alight for eight days. Because most of the food is so rich, lighter wines with crisp acidity often work well to cleanse the palate and keep the meal from feeling too heavy. We offer some of our favorite pairings with these traditional dishes below. Happy Hanukkah!
Classic Latkes: These delicious golden potato pancakes prove that there are few things that are not improved by a hot oil bath. Pair them with a high-acid sparkling wine or sauvignon blanc to balance the oily texture and rich flavor.
Gingered Sweet Potato Latkes: A lot is going on in this dish--richness, sweetness, and spice--so the wine pairing can be tricky, but a crisp Alsatian or Austrian riesling should do the trick.
Red Wine Braised Beef Brisket: Choose a wine you like on its own to cook the brisket in, and then use that same wine, or a similar one, to serve with the dish. Bold, cabernet sauvignons or fruity zinfandels won’t lead you astray.
Sufganiyot: These deep-fried doughnuts, often filled with jelly or custard, are rich, sweet, and just the right way to end a meal (or start it!). It’s best to pair desserts with wines that are as sweet or sweeter than the dessert. We recommend a sweet Champagne or a late harvest riesling.