With Wine Pairing, It’s Elemental | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

With Wine Pairing, It’s Elemental

Balancing the different aspects of braised lamb shanks.

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When it comes to selecting wines for Passover meals, the general rules for pairing wine with food — like lighter foods go with lighter wines and richer foods with richer, full-bodied wines — still apply. But there is no objectively perfect match or pairing to be found; the goal of matching wine with food is balance. 

Entertaining at the table is, thankfully, not rocket science. Besides, in the context of the general bonhomie of gathering family and close friends, it’s hard to imagine anybody being too actively displeased by whatever wines you offer.

For Ronnie Fein’s Braised Lamb Shanks with Dried Apricots and Fragrant Spices, for example, a wide variety of wines will work well with the elements of the dish. 

Many Rhône-style reds and especially syrah wines go very well with lamb and may be interesting to explore. Consider the beautiful black cherry and black olive-driven Jacques Capsouto Vignobles, Cotes de Galilee Village, Cuvée Samuel Rouge, Galilee, Israel, 2016 ($20; available at Warehouse Wines & Spirits, 735 Broadway, [212] 982-7770); the herbal backdrop and hint of raspberry should work beautifully here. 

Similarly, the even better — altogether more elegant and complex — Jacques Capsouto Vignobles, Cotes de Galilee Village, Cuvée Marco, Grand Vin, 2016 shows greater interplay between savory, sweet and spice that should play wonderfully with the lamb and the dried fruits. ($40; available at Kosherwine.com, [866] 567-4370)

Though somewhat beefier, the Vignobles David, Le Mourre de l’Isle, Côtes du Rhône, 2016 ($19; available at Skyview Wines & Spirits, 5681 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale, [888] 759-8466) and the Vignobles David, Oz Reserve, Côtes du Rhône Villages, France, 2016 ($28; available at Kosherwine.com) should produce similarly happy results — the delightful Oz is considerably higher powered and more brambly and will dance with the dish in a slightly different way. 

Meanwhile, the dazzling Shirah Wine Co., Murmur Vineyard, Syrah, Santa Maria Valley, California, 2016 ($55; available directly from the winery at shirahwine.com, [845] 826-4192), with its nose of pepper and dark berries, fresh flowers and apricots and its full yet refreshing palate of lovely blue fruits with a smidge of brioche, offers another path to enjoying braised lamb. 

For a different syrah-driven spin, consider the juicy, fresh and lively Israeli Ramot Naftaly Winery, Shiraz, Special Edition, Israel, 2012 ($25), or the even more rounded and complex Ramot Naftaly Winery, Shiraz, Kedesh Valley, Israel, 2013 ($37; both available from israeliwinedirect.com, [866] 469-8708).

To take things in another direction entirely, consider a good Carignan, like the deliciously earthy, complex, muscular yet elegant Celler de Capçanes, La Flor del Flor del Primavera, Samso Old Vines, Montsant, 2015 ($60; available at Kosherwine.com). Try a related yet very different direction with the younger and fruitier Beit El Winery, Cliff View Carignan, Single Vineyard, 2017/5777 ($25; available at Skyview Wines & Spirits)

Want to take it in still an altogether different direction? Consider the Domaine d’Ardhuy Aloxe-Corton, kosher edition, 2015 ($90; available exclusively from LiquidKosher.com, [619] 663-9613)—an expensive, but fabulous, rich, complex and earthy Burgundy. For a vastly different exploration using the same grape variety, consider the tasty Israeli Vitkin Pinot Noir 2016 ($28; Vintry Fine Wines, 230 Murray St., [212] 240-9553).

Here are a few more options to consider: The always fun, delicious and fruity Louis Blanc, Juliénas, (Beaujolais), 2015 ($20) has enough oomph to pick up on the savory side of the lamb, while the wine’s fruitiness should work with the dried fruits in the braise. (Available exclusively online from Kosherwine.com). 

The dark cherry-berry-driven Herzog, Special Reserve, Quartet, Red Blend, 2015 ($37; mevushal) from California has enough spice and fruit to do the lamb some real justice. (Available at Suhag Wines & Liquor, 69-30 Main St., Flushing, Queens, [718] 793-6629.) 

The elegant Château Fontenil, Fronsac, 2015 ($55) from the estate of famed global winemaker and consultant Michel Rolland is supple, silky, soft, fresh and complex with spice, wet earth, sweet plum and black cherry notes, all of which should sing beautifully with the braised lamb shanks with dried apricots. (Available at Suhag Wines & Liquor.) 

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