Chanukah is here, and while many of us are observing the holiday away from home, there's no reason not to enjoy a latke or two while hitting the beach or the slopes! And, if you are a wine geek like me, you may be wondering what wines go well with those latkes.
First and foremost, acidity is key when matching wine with fried foods. Your wine must be able to cut through the intense flavors of potatoes, salt, onion, egg and matzo meal – crispness does the trick. Find a great Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Sancerre, Pouilly sur Loire or California. The aroma will be very different from all these areas, but the underlying key factor – crisp acidity and forward fruit – will offer you a wonderful match for your special recipe or store bought/restaurant prepared latke.
If you are a Riesling nut (as I am), try a wine from the Mosel Valley, which will offer great green apple acidity. If your meal has some apple components in the salad or side dish, this is a wonderful selection.
Finding a wine with strong acidity can help if your meal includes a meat main course. A Barolo, which is made from the Nebbiolo grape, or a Pinot Noir can be toe tappers while also matching perfectly with latkes.
The traditional desserts of Chanukah, sufganiyot and chocolate gelt, offer challenging wine matches, but my go-to would be a nice California Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to hit the chocolate component. Softer tannins, those acid flavors you taste on the sides of your mouth with red wines, are important for matching with chocolate and can be found in well-aged wines. But really, when playing dreidel with the kids or your adult friends, a nice bourbon sipper with one ice cube works best for me. One ice cube will bring out the complexity without changing the flavor or temperature of the bourbon. And bourbons are traditionally slightly sweeter than Scotch whisky, which will help with chocolate gelt and sufganiyot.
L’Chaim, L’Shalom - and Happy Chanukah!
by Am Shalom President and Resident Wine Expert, Greg Miller