With the kids back in school, the realization that Rosh Hashanah is around the corner is hitting hard. You do it every year: plan amazing meals, select your table settings and invite your closest friends and family members. It’s beautiful!
But every year, there is one challenge: which kosher wines to serve.
We’ve created a handy guide to help you put together the perfect wine-food pairings that will wow your guests and enhance all the work you do to make Rosh Hashanah special.
It is customary to kick-off your Rosh Hashanah dinner by eating a selection of simanim, foods that represent good things. The Sephardic Rosh Hashanah Seder features gourds, fenugreek, leeks, beets and dates. Many of these items can be incorporated into salads or served as delectable soups. Of course, they all taste better when paired with the perfect wine.
Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib 2012 ($51.99)
This dark red wine offers a seductive and complex fruit flavor that pairs beautifully with grilled vegetables and stews. Offer guests a glass, but store a few bottles for later—this wine has some serious ageing potential.
Tishbi Emerald Riesling ($12.99)
Beets are contentious. Not everybody likes them, but who doesn’t want his/her “adversaries to be removed,” as the prayer for beets goes? They go down easier with an emerald Riesling. This one has a unique character with fruity aromas and floral finish. And putting the white wine next to the deep red of a beet salad adds a twist of color to your Rosh Hashanah table.
Capcanes Peraj Petita Rosat 2013 ($17.99)
A rosé table wine, this Capcanes offers an interesting acidity and sweetness. With a long, fruity finish and a bitter bite because of the Syrah, the Petita Rosat works well with a vegetable paella. Yum!
It is customary to sing songs (zemirot) at the New Year’s table. Offering guests a glass of wine while you transition from appetizers to main course will lighten their souls to the festivities and encourage them to take part in the musical excitement. Here are some options:
Bravdo Shiraz 2010 ($22.99)
This Shiraz has aged for 12 months in oak barrels on the grounds of one of Israel’s highly recognized boutique wineries. It is blessed with rich color perfectly balanced with a hint of spicy herbs.
Casa Del Cielo Chardonnay ($8.49)
This wine carries an aromatic blend of soft melon, pineapple and apricots, along with zesty mandarin orange. With a distinguished and long finish—and its festive label!—the Casa Del Cielo Chardonnay will keep your guests engaged.
Binyamina Bin Merlot ($12.99)
Deep red with a purple hue, this wine boasts a fruity aroma with a whiff of oak. Warning: Opening this wine during a rendition of “Yom Zeh l’Yisrael” could mean repeat verses.
Nothing is as special as serving the traditional Rosh Hashanah foods that Bubbe always made. Whether it is honey-laden tzimmes, sweet kugel or a hearty brisket that you display on your holiday table, you’ll want wines that pair well with heavier, sweeter dishes. Try these:
Abarbanel Chardonnay ($13)
Try this crisp white wine with your tzimmes. Instead of an oaky flavor, it offers a refreshing taste paired with the aromas of honey, pear, apple and citrus. And it’s sweet enough that even Bubbe will love it.
Flam Reserve Merlot 2011 ($53.99)
A complex and rich wine, the result of strict growing methods and extremely low yields, this fruit-driven choice is complimented by soft oak spices and floral notes, leading to a long and velvety finish. Dark red always works well with meat, so put it out with the brisket.
Psagot Edom 2012 ($33.99)
Just as it is important to make your noodle kugel with just the right amount of, but not too much, sweetness, so, too, is it important to balance the wine you serve alongside the very same famous Ashkenazi dish. The Psagot Edom is the winery’s premier red wine, featuring a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (75%) and Merlot (25%). Aged for 14 months in French and American oak barrels, it is a healthy combination of rich and spicy vanilla notes with the intense flavors of berries, black currants and oriental spice. Psagot Edom pairs nicely with a robust pasta dish.
Don’t Forget Dessert
Though by the end of your Rosh Hashanah dinner, your guests will have flutteringly heavy eyelids and full stomachs, there is always room for dessert. Or at least for a piece of chocolate…and one more glass of wine!
Shiloh Fort 2010 ($29.99)
The Shiloh winery brand is one of the most exciting and promising Israeli wines. Shiloh Fort is a rich Port-style dessert wine with 50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, making it intensely purple-red in color. It has a well-balanced natural sweetness and warming heat on the finish and is transcendent paired with a rich chocolate dessert.
Top photo courtesy of flickr user Stefano Lubiana