Hanukkah is a fantastic time for getting together with your community, family and friends. For eight nights, the menorah is lit, dreidel is played, gifts are exchanged — and of course, food is shared. 

Oil-based or fried foods are commonly served at Hanukkah, which is great news for wine lovers as all wines love fat and salt. These flavor elements will soften the acidity and heighten the fruitiness of your wines. So, you start at a real advantage when it comes to wine pairing for this holiday.

Of course, not all of the dishes are salty or fatty. Some elements, like Sufganiyot, are sweet, and they present much more of a challenge when it comes to serving an appropriate wine that will pair with the food and enhance your guests’ enjoyment. 

As always, the important thing when it comes to matching food and wine is to make sure that you have fun! We all have different palates and all enjoy numerous tastes and textures, so you will never find a perfect match that suits everyone. Just look for complementary flavors and textures that will enhance each other and not drown one another out. Read on to find out more about how to pair your latkes, roast chicken, kugel, and more with the perfect vinous accompaniment to this Hanukkah.

Latkes

When it comes to shallow fried potato pancakes, we love to serve them with a dollop of sour cream along with a rich and buttery Chardonnay. This will bring a pleasant acidity to cut through the richness but also have the same sort of texture that will bring a complementary weight to the mouth. However, some people prefer sweet latkes – perhaps with cinnamon, sugar, or apple sauce. That changes the game completely, and we love a sweet wine made with the fragrant Muscat grape, which will balance out sweetness and acidity and provide a powerful flavor match.

Why not try pairing latkes with the Sweet Oaks 2018 Chardonnay?

Roast Chicken

A familiar favorite in many Jewish households at this time of year will be a whole roasted chicken. This is a hearty and wholesome dish that brings a smile to your face on a cold winter’s evening. You might consider that it gives quite a delicate flavor, but as the chicken is cooked and served in its entirety, there is also a good amount of savoriness to be found in the chicken skin. Although you will usually see a white wine recommended for a pairing, a light red wine also makes a good match. Why not try a young Pinot Noir with fresh fruity notes and light tannin that will help your chicken dinner to sing?

The Sweet Oaks 2018 Pinot Noir would make a lovely match with chicken and have the flexibility to match with a wide range of other foods, too.

Kugel

Another family favorite that can be served sweet or savory, this noodle casserole goes excellently with fruity, dry white wines that can cut through its inherent richness. If served savory or just with a light sweetness, you might even like to try experimenting with a dry sparkling white wine, like a French Cremant or Italian Prosecco.

Matzo Ball Soup

If your Matzo balls are served in a light chicken broth, perhaps with flavorings of garlic and dill in there, then you could do worse than a crisp and fruity white wine to pair with it. We love the beautiful floral-scented notes of a good Viognier with these elements. It has just enough crispness to bring balance to the overall combination.

We recommend the Sweet Oaks 2020 Viognier which has a slight honey character in the profile. Delicious!

Sufganiyot

What’s not to love about these deep-fried beauties? Jelly-filled and covered with powdered sugar, they are a delightful indulgence that needs a sweet wine to match their powerful sugar-fueled hit. Nothing else will do; a dry wine would be made to taste bitter and astringent by something this sweet. Try a late-harvest Riesling or perhaps a fantastic German ice wine if you feel like really pushing the boat out with your Hanukkah treats this year!

Spinach Knish

Who doesn’t love a knish? Golden flaky pastry, filled with seasoned potato. And we are always particularly tempted by a spinach knish with that extra earthy note. This pairs well with the flavor profile of an aged Pinot Grigio. We love how the slightly vegetal notes in the wine bring out the muted greenness of the spinach and bring a delicious harmony.

You might enjoy the Sweet Oaks 2020 Pinot Grigio as a pairing here.

Get Your Wines

If we have made your mouth water, then why not try Sweet Oaks wine for yourself. There is a range of varietal wines available that will match all of the delicious foods you will be sharing over Hanukkah.

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