Shavuot Wine Pairings | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Shavuot Wine Pairings

Shavuot Wine Pairings

L'Chaim suggests wines to pair with your festive Shavuot meals 

L’Chaim suggests eight wines perfect for your Shavuot meals

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The festival of Shavuot, or Weeks, is nearly upon us, which of course means celebratory festival meals. In my book, at least, such meals necessarily also entail lots of wine.

One of the three biblically mandated pilgrimage festivals, this holiday is called Shavuot (Exodus 34:22 and Deuteronomy 16:10) because it culminates the seven week period of counting between the first Passover and the revelation at Mt. Sinai. Elsewhere, the Torah also refers to this holiday as the “Day of the first-fruits” (Numbers 28:26), and as the “Festival of Reaping” (Exodus 23:16).

None of which directly explains the long-standing tradition of eating dairy foods on this holiday, especially since my beloved New York-style cheesecake didn’t come into existence until thousands of years after the Torah was given.

There are, in fact, multiple competing rabbinic rationales for the widespread practice of eating dairy on Shavuot, and various customs for observance of this dairy tradition, from enjoying an all-dairy meal, to starting with dairy and then switching to meat. Whatever one’s custom, it wouldn’t be a festive holiday meal without wine—so drink up. Here are some great options to consider: one Spanish Rosé, four different Chardonnays, two reds, and a dessert wine.

Elvi, Viña Encina, Rosado (D.O. La Mancha, Spain), 2017 ($12; mevushal): This 100% Tempranillo Rosé is fresh, fun, and fruity with notes of strawberry, raspberry, and watermelon, a little green peppercorn, and a hint of savory meaty notes (more chicken than beef). It is mighty tasty on its own, or with fruit salad, soft cheeses, or even lighter meaty meals.

Herzog, Lineage, Chardonnay (Clarksburg, California), 2016 ($20; mevushal): this is a nice, bright, easy-drinking, citrus-driven Chard with balance, grace, and just enough buttery oak to interest those who seek that style, but not enough to put off those who don’t. Some agreeable vaguely tropical fruit notes and decent acidity help round it all out. Very appealing.

The Abarbanel, Les Chemins de Favarelle, Batch 30, Chardonnay, Unoaked (Pays d’Oc, IGP, France), 2016 ($15; mevushal): Sourced once again from a single vineyard in the Aude River Valley of the Languedoc in southwest France, this latest vintage is fresh, clean, and inviting with notes of citrus and stone fruits, a little spice, and nice balancing acidity. From year to year, this represents consistently great value.

Domaine Les Marronniers, Chablis (Burgundy, France) 2016 ($33; mevushal): This is wonderful Chablis. It is crisp, flinty, restrained, and elegant with apple, citrus, earthy, and herbal aromas and flavors, and a fabulous, almost saline foundation upon which other fruit notes lovingly swim.

Gito, Lavan (Judean Hills, Israel), 2016 ($38): This exceptional Chardonnay is focused and restrained, with great balance between fruit and acidity, lovely depth, and deftly integrated oak. The wood here makes it creamy, rather than buttery, and subtly heightens the minerality and fruit. A stunning release.

Covenant Winery, Mensch, Zinfandel (Lodi, California), 2016 ($20; mevushal; available online directly from the winery with limited retail distribution): this budget-priced, value-driven wine from the consistently great Covenant Winery is rich yet softly textured and fruit-forward. Indeed this is practically bursting with clean and lovely black cherry, raspberry, and even a little boysenberry fruit, it also has notes of cocoa, and has hints of rosemary, and black licorice on the finish. Very tasty.

Shiloh, Shor, Barbera (Israel), 2016 ($34; mevushal): This enjoyable, balanced, fruit-forward, medium-bodied Barbera offers an Eastern Mediterranean twist on an Italian classic—with aromas and flavors of plum, blackberry, strawberry, violets, Mediterranean herbs, dark cocoa, a bit of spice, and a touch of espresso. There is a nice earthy note dancing in the background; pleasing finish too.

Baron Herzog, Late Harvest, Chenin Blanc (Clarksburg, California), 2016 ($25; mevushal): This luscious, aromatic, fruity yet serious sweet wine offers notes of pear, honey, peach, apricot, mandarin oranges, mango, custard and a smidgen of candied ginger. Served lightly chilled.

L’Chaim!

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