Israeli Wine Pairing for Hanukkah

Our friend and My Israel Wine Tours founder, Esther Cohen wrote this post on her web site and gave us permission to publish it here. She is a “hot ticket” and we wish her and everyone else a Happy Hanukah.

“They wanted to kill us; we won. Let’s eat!” This is the mantra for most Jewish holidays, and Hanukkah is one of my favorite holidays, because we eat yummy food and not matzoh – and there are, as Adam Sandler says, “eight crazy nights” of parties with friends and family!No Jewish celebration is complete without wine. When you plan your Hanukkah party, what Israeli wine will you serve with your Hanukkah cuisine?  Here are some perfect pairings for your Hanukkah feasts – or nosh!Start the evening with some bubbly spirits and Loukoumades (aka Fried Honey Puffs). There are Israeli wineries that make bubbly, such as Tishbi Brut, Gamla Brut, Pelter Blanc de Blancs (not kosher) and lastly, something new and unique on the market:  Pombubbly, from Rimon Winery, wine made from pomegranates.  I love the Pombubbly for celebration time!

Along with the appetizers, you should include scrumptious Sweet Potato Latkes (my favorite and the recipe is included below) which pairs well with a crisp Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. I suggest the Tzora Neve Ilan 2010 or the Gamla Sauvignon Blanc 2010, because the aroma and flavors of the tropical fruits blend deliciously well with the taste of the sweet potato.


For the main course of traditional Ashkanazi mama’s cooking, you can’t go wrong with a juicy brisket, apple noodle kugle and tzimmes.  I hope while you are reading this your mouth is watering and your stomach is screaming to you, “I’m hungry for Hanukkah food!”  Since everyone has a different pallet and appreciation for red-dry wine, I would put a variety of red wines on the table for your guests. Here’s the list of my suggestions: Tzuba Harmony 2010, which is a blend of Sangiovese and Shiraz.  This wine is full of red fruits and is a fresh, light red dry wine for those people that do not want a heavy wine. If you cannot find this wine in the States, then look for other Tzuba wines like the Cabernet 2009 or Metsuda 2007. Amphorae MedRed 2007 (not kosher): a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It is oaked in French barrels for 12 months so it is not overpowering in oak and is well balanced. There are great flavors of berries, mocha and dark chocolate.

Dalton Reserve Shiraz 2009 is a beautiful eggplant color and is a rich powerful wine with a hint of peppery spice and flavors of wild berry and licorice.  This wine is for people that love a deep, rich red wine to drink with their juicy brisket.


If you are not sufficiently full, there is always room for desert!If you live in Israel than you are in sufganiot (donut) heaven during Hanukkah. Every bakery makes a wide variety of flavors, and of course there is always the traditional jelly flavored sufganiot.  There is also the famous Krembo that only comes out in the Winter season in Israel. A Krembo is a cookie bottom, marshmallow in the middle and covered with a thin layer of chocolate.  With these desserts, I would pair an elegant dessert wine such as the Tzuba late harvest Chardonnay dessert wine or the Odem Mountain Amber dessert wine.  Both of these wines have a honey and almond flavor and pair well with any dessert.Some other boutique Israeli wineries that I would recommend for the other nights of Hanukkah are: Yatir Winery, Ella Valley Winery, Adir Winery, Ramot Neftaly Winery, Naaman Winery, Agur Winery and Vitkin Winery. There are 300 wineries to choose from in Israel and these are just a few of my favorites!

There are many more Israeli red wines that I love and would pair with a tasty Hanukkah meal. Thank goodness there are eight nights of Hanukkah to light the menorah, drink wine, exchange presents with friends and family and eat latkes and sufganiot. L’chaim!
Esther Cohen, a native of Boston, is the Founder of My Israel Wine Tours, a company that has taken over 600 people on wine tours around Israel. She lives in Tel Aviv with her husband. 

Sweet Potato Latke Recipe from

·        2 sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
·        2 eggs, lightly beaten
·        1 tablespoon brown sugar
·        2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
·        2 teaspoons ground cloves
·        2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
·        1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying 


  1. Place sweet potatoes in a colander. Place a paper towel over the potatoes, and squeeze the potatoes to release as much liquid as possible. Let the potatoes sit to release more liquid, then squeeze again.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, eggs, brown sugar, flour, cloves and cinnamon; mix well.
  3. Heat oil in large heavy skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Form mixture into pancake size cakes, and fry in hot oil. Flip cakes after 2 to 3 minutes (when bottom is browned) and brown other side. Drain on paper towels, and serve piping hot!

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