Holiday meals are always a good opportunity to sample new wines and experiment with wine and food pairings. With more than one holiday dinner, Shavuot gave me an opportunity to open and taste several different bottles throughout the course of the meal. While some people tend to be more conservative with their wine-pairing selections, there really is no right or wrong; other factors such as the sauce used for the dish and the weather often influence my choice of which wine to serve at the meal. At the end of the day it is all a matter of personal taste. Shavuot is traditionally considered as the 'dairy holiday' and in most Jewish households at least one of the holiday meals consists of dairy based dishes. While many dairy dishes and cheeses may go well with white wines, depending on the dish or the cheese served, red wines should not be overlooked and in some cases may even make for a better pairing selection.
Zion, Erez, Fume Blanc, 2009 – A new release from the Zion winey and one of the few varietal Chenin Blanc based wines in Israel (the Sea Horse winery also produces an excellent Chenin Blanc), light gold with green reflections, the wine suggests yellow plums, pineapple, green apple, flowers and toasted oak. A versatile grape from France’s Loire Valley, the wine will go well with a Greek or Cesar Salad or various seafood dishes.
Galil Mountain, Avivim, 2008 – an interesting blend of 75% Viognier and 25% Chardonnay, aged sur lie in French oak for nine months, straw leaning towards gold in color, the wine offers generous aromas and flavors of apples, pears, white flowers followed by hints of vanilla and toasted oak. Due to good acidity and a clean and pleasant finish, the winery suggests serving the wine alongside rich fish dishes or creamy risottos.
Dalton, Sauvignon Blanc, Reserve, 2010 – A new release from the Dalton winery, light and very refreshing as one would expect from a Sauvignon Blanc. Pale straw with some green reflections, suggesting classic aromas and flavors of freshly cut grass and citrus all leading to a clean finish. Serve chilled, the winery suggests pairing this wine with light herb infused dishes such as fish grilled with fresh herbs or pasta in pesto sauce.
Yatir, Sauvignon Blanc, 2010 – another excellent summer wine, pale with light green reflections, suggesting freshly cut grass, lemon zest and yellow grapefruit backed by good acidity and leading to a clean and pleasant finish. Grilled fish would go well with this vino as well, or try serving alongside brusketa topped with un-aged goat cheeses and olive oil.
Yaffo, Chardonnay, 2010 - based on 100% Chardonnay grapes and was developed sur lie, 30% in oak barrels for 3 months and the remainder in stainless steel vats. Light gold with bright reflections, medium bodied, this wine suggests pleasant aromas green apples, white peaches, citrus blossom and a touch of toasted oak leading to a clean finish. Serve with baked fish dishes or alongside veal cutlets.
Golan Heights, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yonatan, Yarden, 2007 – Aged for 18 months in French oak, full bodied and dark ruby in color, this cab offers aromas and flavors of both dark and red berry fruits, cherries, spicy oak, dark chocolate and a touch of dry herbs leading to a long finish . The winery suggests serving the wine alongside pasta with a beef and wild mushroom sauce. It is interesting to sample this wine alongside hard cow milk cheeses like Parmesan or Grana Padana. The cheese softens the tannins making the wine seem more approachable.
Saslove, Kadita, 2005-2007 – As I am not a great fan of sweet and rich desserts, one of my favorite ways to end a meal is with a platter of cheeses, nuts, homemade jams and a nice glass of fortified wine. The Saslove winery, with visitor's centers on Kibbutz Eyal and in the Upper Galilee produced several Port style wines that will definitely offer an interesting twist to your holiday meal. Named after the winery's vineyard adjacent to the village of Kadita (between Safed and Meron) and produced from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, the wine suggests dark berry fruits, plums and sweet spices followed by a touch of hazelnut. Serve slightly chilled on its own or alongside a slice of potent blue cheese such as Stilton or Roquefort.