Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is also the Festival of Fried Foods, and finding the right wines for all that oily food is not so easy. When considering fried foods and wine, I focus on white wines because of their acidic levels and their clean fruit and mineral notes. Here are two wines that will be great partners for every Hanukkah celebration!
A slightly sweet white wine goes well with latkes, those crispy potato pancakes so symbolic of the holiday. My go-to is Carmel Moscato. This is a wine with a touch of effervescence and great notes of citrus and peach. Made in Israel and sold all over the world, this wine is available very regularly, and will excite any drinker when paired with a starchy bite. The effervescence in this wine helps to break down the starch, and the sweetness will continue the process. And, since my favorite time to eat a potato pancake is fresh out of the pan, this chilled wine helps get down the very hot bite.
Sometimes people like to spice up their latkes and use curry or other spices in them. The beauty of a Moscato is that it will cut some spiciness and heighten the overall enjoyment of the flavors in the dish.
Another traditional snack for this festival is doughnuts, especially a delicious jelly doughnut called sufganiot in Israel. With a golden-brown fried outside shell of dough, the gooey inside of warm jelly sweetens life up a little more, but this is not the only doughnut option around. I have been known to enjoy just have a regular doughnut or go off the playbook and make a little fried dough so that everyone can pick at one plate together!
For this type of sweet and rich snack, I recommend a white wine with a little less sweetness and more buttery-rich notes that will compliment the food while also cutting the sugary taste. This is a perfect time for a chardonnay. Ella Valley of Israel is the perfect match for this situation. With its rich Burgundian-style mild oak, a touch of walnuts, green apple and pear on the nose and palate, you have a bottle to share with your friends and family, or savor on your own in a quiet moment.