Hanukkah 2021 and wine

HANUKKAH Nov 28 – Dec 6 2021

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, is 8 days of fried foods. Obviously it is much much more for those celebrating it, but for the foodie the food is as much if not more significant. The classic dishes include latkes (potato pancakes), brisket, challah bread and chocolate gelt coins, a varied selection of deliciousness that can be tricky to pair with. If you were to pair each dish you’d be opening 8 wines a night, and that is a lot of wine, even for me. Below are some suggestions to make your meal more wine friendly and my ONE wine to rule them all pairing. QUICK TIP: Make it wine friendly by adding onion, bacon, herbs, nuts or salt. Any of these items can transform your dish from fighting with a wine, to your new favorite pairing.
Challah pretzel bread takes the usual slightly sweet bread and gives it a savory kick.Latkes, everyone’s favorite potato pancake snack, is a crispy, salty happy place. Make them even better with a sprinkling of scallions, sour cream on the side and a twist on the applesauce adding a little ginger.
Gelt, cheap milk chocolate coins are almost as much a symbol of Hanukkah as the menorah, but not that tasty especially with wine. Try making a melted dark chocolate round sprinkled with nuts and salt (called a mendiant) instead.
Brisket is the main dish and can be seasoned any number of ways. A food friendly way to do it is to add wine to the cooking brisket and serve that same wine at the table, this is called marrying. An easy recipe for this is a Bourguignon treatment.
And what is the wine for these tasty treats?

Vivac Winery’s Abbott Cabernet Franc. Many people still shy away from Cabernet Franc associating it with unpleasant green notes, but when Cab Franc is good, it is sooooooo good. The Vivac Cab Franc comes from one of our estate vineyards in northern New Mexico at an astounding 5,400ft elevation. Oh yes, I should mention that I am co-owner of the winery, but I swear that is not why I picked this wine! The nose is full of pie cherry notes with dried lavender and sage. It is a medium bodied wine with minerality and bright fruit on the palate
allowing it to pair with lighter dishes like latkes. It also has great mid-palate structure, layered complexity, integrated acidity and a long spicy finish which makes it perfectfor the brisket and mendiants you will be making. Some Cab Francs can be giants, bold and robust, which makes them harder to pair with. What I like about this Cab Franc is its natural acidity and lighter body style making it a truly versatile food pairing wine. It also was just awarded a Silver at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. Available at Vivac Winery

Additional spins on the classics include:
*Potato Kinishes with carmelized onions
*Kugel pasta with sour cream and carmelized onions
*Rugelach with pecans, apricot jam and cream cheese
*Everything bagel crusted salmon (yes, take an everything bagel, cut it into 4, allow
to dry overnight, smash into breadcrumbs and pat onto salmon, then bake.
*Fried chicken with orange, ginger & fennel
ALL of these will pair with the Vivac Winery Cabernet Franc!

Michele Padberg is an Advanced Somm, International wine judge, wine writer, educator & co-owner of Vivac Winery.

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