This time of year, the wine industry is always abuzz. Harvest season for wine producers in the Northern Hemisphere runs typically between August and October. For the kosher wine industry, this is always an especially busy period — not only is the production side in high gear, but the lead-up to Rosh HaShanah is also traditionally a busy period for retailers. Second only to the run-up to Passover, this is the season when kosher consumers have come to expect new products — new wines, new vintages, and often discounts and sales as retailers try to make room for new inventory and offer additional incentives to attract customers.
The so-called rules for pairing food and wine — like “red with dark meat” and “white with fish and poultry” or “lighter wines go with lighter foods” and “richer, full-bodied wines go with richer foods” — are no different for Rosh HaShanah than at any other time. Such “rules” are dependable guides on balance and can be very handy, but should not ever be thought of as inviolable. The goal of pairing wine with food is, as always, balance and harmony; neither element should overpower or, far worse, clash.
As to selecting wines, be generous and think in terms of the overall menu and crowd, not just specific dishes. For large meals I typically like to offer a dry sparkling option as an apéritif for Kiddush and into the appetizer course, then both red and white options for the main course. And I always like to end with a sweet or dessert wine option as well as some “brown” distilled spirits that also work as a post-prandial digestif.
Here, then, are some new offerings for the holiday meals:
Herzog, Lineage, Momentus ($20; mevushal): This light but vibrant, value-driven, white, off-dry, refreshing sparkler is fairly elegant, with notes of citrus, stone fruits, fresh bread, and slightly sweet melon.
Baron Herzog, Jeunesse, Belle Rouge ($15; mevushal): This is semi-sweet and pretty simple stuff, but fun, sparkling, and inviting — notes of ripe, sweet, almost candied red fruits like cherry, strawberry, and raspberry with a slightly drying finish. Good for those who prefer sweeter red
Champagne des Barons de Rothschild, Brut Rosé, Kosher Edition ($100): An enjoyable dry sparkling rosé with notes of strawberry, raspberry, citrus, and toasted bread; gently persistent bubbles; and good balancing
Goose Bay, Sauvignon Blanc, South Island, New Zealand, 2018 ($22; mevushal): This latest vintage doesn’t disappoint. It’s wonderfully brash, brisk, crisp, vivacious, and herbaceous, with pungent aromas and flavors of grapefruit, gooseberry, green pepper, spicy ginger, and passion fruit.
Domaine de Panquelaine, Sancerre, 2018 ($30; mevushal): This is the kosher label of the Loire producer Domaine des Grandes Perrières. This is crisp, restrained, and nicely minerally with notes of citrus and orange blossom, with subtle salinity.
Netofa, Tel Qasser, White, Galilee, Israel, 2017 ($33): This 100 percent Roussanne is a real pleasure to drink. It is full-bodied, bright, rich, floral, earthy, minerally, and fruity — with flavors of green apples, pears, and quince, all firmly braced by lively acidity.
Flechas de Los Andes, Gran Malbec, Argentina, 2017 ($30): Young and medium-bodied, with attractive notes of dark berry and stone fruits, chocolate, spice, and light oak. Should improve with age but delicious now.
Netofa, Latour, Red, Galilee, Israel, 2016 ($30): This savory, fleshy, layered, balanced, medium-to-full-bodied, delicious blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre
offers aromas and flavors of assorted dark berry fruits and freshly cracked black pepper, with a touch of weathered leather, chocolate, rich spices, a whiff of tobacco, and a little charred meat on the lengthy finish.
Shiloh, Shor, Merlot, Israel, 2016 ($35; mevushal): This is a bit brooding and ripe but nicely coherent; offering lovely dark fruits, subtle mint, spices, coffee, and a little smoked meat.
Herzog, Special Edition, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford District, Napa Valley, 2016 ($85; mevushal): Young, tannic, and powerful but nicely balanced and verging on elegant, with inviting dark fruits, spice, dark chocolate, subtle smoke, nice depth, and structure; will definitely improve with age but is very rewarding now, though give it time to
De La Rosa 613, Ashray Chardonnay, Late Harvest Sweet Wine, Burgenland, Austria, 2015 ($20; mevushal): Sweet, voluptuous, and delicious, with lovely honeyed fruits (ripe apples, apricots, quince, and pineapple), nice balancing acidity, and an overall refreshing suppleness.
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden Heights Wine, Israel, 2017 ($22): Made from artificially frozen Gewürztraminer grapes, this latest vintage is delicious, opulent, round, and wonderfully balanced with honeyed and floral notes of lychee, ripe, and dried apricot; overripe peach; and canned fruit cocktail, with orange peel and some almost-pungent spice. Lovely.
De La Rosa 613, Shaarei Orrah, Late Harvest Blaufrankisch, Burgenland, Austria, 2015 ($21; mevushal): This sweet, wonderfully fruity yet distinctly piquant Spätlese-style Blaufränkisch opens with notes of cherry, cranberry, and blueberry, with lovely pepper and spice; beautifully balanced and easy to quaff. A real pleasure.
Herzog, Late Harvest, Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg, California, 2017 ($25; mevushal): Aromatic, wonderfully fresh and vibrant, fruity yet serious, with lively, tangy acidity and luscious notes of pear, honey, peach, apricot, mandarin oranges, candied ginger, and something vaguely like custard. Nicely balanced and very yummy; sweet without being even remotely cloying.
De La Rosa 613, Kinnerett – The Well of Miriam, Beeren Auslese, Late Harvest Scheurebe, Burgenland, Austria, 2010 ($32; mevushal): With elegant and appealing acacia or mimosa blossom, heather-honey, barley sugar, apricot, and citrus — both fruit and pith; underscored by a beguiling spicy, heady edge; sweet yet brilliantly balanced by citrus-lilted acidity. Intriguing and delicious.
Joshua London is wine writer at The New York Jewish Week, NJJN’s sister publication.