There Is No Simcha Without Good Wine
Sukkot, along with Simchat Torah is the holiday that most symbolizes and highlights the importance of serving G-d and following His Torah with joy. Our Sages write that wine causes the heart of Man to rejoice. Sukkot and Simchat Torah include multiple celebratory meals, inside and outside the sukkah. We will soon share more than 25 meals over the coming yamim tovim with friends and family. Most of them will require of course good food, as well as good wine.
There is a concept known as hiddur mitzvah, to embellish a mitzvah, rather than just sticking to the elementary rules dictated by halacha. We usually aim to build the most beautiful sukkah, with high quality, good looking materials and tasteful decorations. As well, we aim to purchase the nicest Arba Minim set we can afford with a flawless etrog. Hiddur mitzvah applies also to our holiday meals, with the most delicious dishes inspired by the recipes of our grandmothers, cookbooks, or kosher.com. The same should apply to the wines we choose to share with our guests and hosts.
Making Kiddush on rosé wine is always a cheerful and refreshing way to start a meal on Shabbos and Yom Tov. This past summer was an especially hot one. Most rosé wines are already gone from the stores’ shelves yet some are still available, including the Château Roubine 2017, a classified growth from the world-renown Côtes de Provence region in France. That is quite fortunate as the Roubine happens to be arguably one of the best rosé wines out there, as well. This supremely elegant wine boasts fragrant aromas and flavors of summer fruits such as peaches and apricots, as well as notes of red cherries and currants. Its refreshing acidity makes it also a fine match to some appetizers such as gravlax or roasted eggplants with tahini.
I have been advocating for white wines for many years, notably in DiVine Magazine of Pesach 5777. Great kosher white wines have started to blossom since then, with a diverse array of delicious, complex and intriguing examples that have been recently released. Château Guiraud, a first growth Sauternes came out with a bang in the early 2000s with its kosher run. Back then it was the first and only kosher Sauternes of that level on the market. Sixteen years after the legendary 2001, Château Guiraud is making its come back with G de Guiraud 2017, a fabulous dry blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Showcasing notes of orange blossom, lime, pear, and eucalyptus with vibrant acidity this wine would complement a baked halibut in a lemon and butter sauce wonderfully.
Herzog Wine Cellars released a very unique white wine, as well. The Herzog Special Reserve Albariño 2017 is the first kosher wine of its kind. It was a long-time dream of Joe Hurliman, the head winemaker at Herzog. Joe’s dream finally came true after he was able to source the grapes from a very much sought-after vineyard in California’s Edna Valley. Albariño is a grape variety that originates in Spain’s Rías Baixas region. It has a restrained profile with notes of citrus pith, earthy minerals, and spring flowers. I had it last week with a delightful carrot, sumac, and coconut milk soup and it was like a true bashert. I am very excited for more Albariño wines to come out soon.
Jezreel Valley winery has taken the lead on an indigenous Israeli grape variety, Argaman. Argaman was created in Israel in the 1970s as a hybrid of Sousão and Carignan, respectively grapes varieties originating in Portugal and Spain. The name Argaman refers to the color of the wines it produces. The term comes from the Torah and describes the deep red, toward purple color that was part of the ritual garments worn by the Kohanim in the Beit Hamikdash. The Jezreel Argaman 2016 is a big, bold, complex wine with concentrated flavors of black fruits and spices with a long and rich finish. It would accompany a tender French roast perfectly.
A traditional dish on Sukkot for many Jews is stuffed cabbage. This is a dish that has a distinct and unique flavor, typically stuffed with ground beef and served with a tomato-based sauce. While a Chianti would work very well, I believe a fleshier wine, also from Italy, would be the ultimate pairing. The Uva Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2013 features a full body with notes of ripe blackberries and black cherries, some earthy aromas, as well as tobacco and chocolate notes. Once you will have had a bit of stuffed cabbage followed by a sip of Uva, all you will want to do is finish your plate and your glass, refill and replenish them and then sing V’samachta b’chagecha v’hayisa ach sameyach!
L’chaim! Chag Sameyach!
Photography by Tzvi Cohen