Giving Wine for Hanukkah: Choose Meaningful Vintages That Celebrate Life’s Milestones

Giving Wine for Hanukkah

When giving wine for Hanukkah, it’s important to find wines that pair well with traditional holiday dishes like latkes and kugel. Image source: PxHere

 Latkes and sour cream are a staple at my family’s dinner table as the first day of Hanukkah approaches. Recently, we’ve started giving each other Hanukkah wine gifts specifically designed to pair well with latkes, as well as all the other delicious fried foods on our plates. At first, we only served kosher wines or wines from Israel as a celebration of our family’s heritage. Today, we’ve expanded our Hanukkah wine gifts to include a wide range of varieties and regions, from white Burgundy to oaky California Chardonnay. Regardless of whether you stick with kosher wines or branch out, when it comes to giving wine for Hanukkah, it’s important to remember why we celebrate this holiday. As long as you buy wines that mean something to your gift recipient, you can enjoy just about any bottle with your family this year.

Giving Wine for Hanukkah Means Sharing Experiences

Traditionally, Hanukkah is less about gift giving and more about spending time with one another and honoring history. While some families choose to offer one another small gifts on each of the eight days of Hanukkah, many still focus on sharing food or giving away food-based gifts like chocolate gelt. Giving wine for Hanukkah fits in nicely with this tradition since this type of gift is more about the experience of drinking it than it is about getting or having something material. With this in mind, you should try to choose wines that have already reached peak maturity or that are meant to be drunk young. Your goal is to open the bottle right away and enjoy it with your family, rather than give bottles that still need years to mature in a cellar or storage warehouse.

Ideas for Hanukkah Wine Gifts

Sticking with wines that are ready to drink can significantly narrow down your gift options, but it can also open the door to new, exciting wine tasting experiences. One of the best methods I’ve found for giving wine at Hanukkah is to pick your wines based on a single theme. This makes the wine shopping experience easier, and gives your family the chance to try wines that they may not have considered before. Here are a few themes you can follow when you shop for Hanukkah wines this year:

Wines That Pair Perfectly with Fried Foods

If you want the best tasting experience this Hanukkah, then you should look for wines that are sharply acidic in order to balance out the heavy flavors of traditional Hanukkah foods. Nearly every dish served at a Hanukkah dinner is high in fat and oil, and as such, the best wines to pair with these foods are bright, citrusy, semi-dry wines. The slight sweetness will pair well with some sweeter dishes like kugel, while the acidic citrus notes will perk up a fatty dish like brisket.

Here are a few options that you may consider as gifts this Hanukkah:

  • 1996 Moët & Chandon – This brut vintage is mature enough to drink, and pairs beautifully with fried foods like latkes.
  • 2010 Auguste Clape – This Syrah is savory and full-bodied enough to compete with a brisket main course, but it also has enough acidity to cut through the meat’s fat.
  • Any demi-sec Champagne – Pair this sweeter wine with a dessert dish like sufganiyot; the sweetness will match the dessert, but the bubbles keep the entire dish feeling light.

All-Kosher Wine Flights or Bottles from Israel

Alternatively, you may decide to stick with the Israeli classics and buy a small flight of light, acidic wines from Israel, or choose kosher wines from other regions. Although these types of wines aren’t usually as collectible as, say, a vintage bottle of DRC, you can still find a few producers who make beautiful wines that are well worth drinking and giving as gifts. Rhône-style wines, in particular, grow well in Israel’s climate and are an excellent choice for Hanukkah gifts. You can also find a number of kosher wines from Bordeaux. Châteaux such as Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Pontet-Canet, and Léoville Poyferré have all produced kosher wines from time to time. These tend to be very aromatic and drink well in their youth.

Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Vintages

If you’re planning on giving wine for Hanukkah and want your gift to be extra special, then you may decide to buy vintages that match your recipient’s bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah year. In my family, all of my siblings went through their mitzvahs at least 10 years ago, so there are plenty of mature wines on the market that would make excellent gifts to celebrate this milestone. For instance, last year I gave my brother a bottle of Roumier to commemorate the anniversary of his bar mitzvah in 1996. He appreciated that I took the time to find a bottle that both matched his taste (he loves Pinot Noir), as well as an important moment in his life.

Creating Meaning with Your Gift

You don’t just have to stick with bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah milestones when you’re choosing wine for gifts. Your recipient will appreciate any wine that is carefully chosen to cater specifically to their lives and what they consider important. The purpose of Hanukkah is to reconnect with your history, embrace your spirituality, and prioritize the moments in your life that matter most to you. By highlighting some of these important moments, whether that’s the year that you first met your significant other or the year that your first child was born, the perfect wine gift lets you share a part of those experiences with your friends and family and create a new Hanukkah tradition in the process.

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