8 Crazy Nights of Wine for Hanukkah | Wine Enthusiast
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8 Crazy Nights of Wine for Hanukkah

Hanukkah (or Chanukah, if you like) is the Jewish holiday known as the “festival of lights.” It brings friends and family together for eight consecutive nights, which means there are plenty opportunities to pop a cork or two.

There’s plenty to celebrate: Hanukkah marks the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after it was ransacked by Greek forces seeking to subjugate the city’s Jewish people. Not only did Jewish residents prevail and recapture the destroyed Temple, a miracle occurred: Though only a single flask of oil remained in the holy building— enough to last just one night—it burned for eight nights, which was enough time for new oil to be prepared. To commemorate and celebrate this event, the festival of Hanukkah was born.

Today, the holiday is celebrated with loved ones by lighting the menorah—a lamp with nine candles, which include one for each night plus the “helper” candle that lights them all. Hanukkah gatherings also often involve plenty of foods fried in oil (a nod to the oil-burning miracle), like latkes (fried potato pancakes) and sufganiyot(jelly-filled doughnuts).

With all of the candle lighting, singing, playing and eating, of course you’ll want to add some special wines to pair with your festivities. Why not pour a different bottle every night? 

Our list includes a mix of kosher and non-kosher options, but if you want eight nights worth of kosher wines, peep the options on our list of the 11 kosher wines we love.

Night 1.

Recanati 2019 Syrah (Galilee)

For the first night of this special holiday, turn to the land where it all began. A selection from Israel not only offers an appropriate nod to the Holy Temple’s locale, but this kosher one is full of dark plums and violets, sure to impress any Syrah lover. But if Syrah isn’t your thing, check out other recent Israeli wine reviews from our Buying Guide for more delicious options.

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

Aromas of dark plums and violets lead to flavors of cranberry, pomegranate, cherry and Mediterranean herbs. Smooth in the mouth, this wine has silky tannins and a final note of orange zest. —Mike DeSimone

$18 Wine-Searcher

Night 2.

Dalton 2020 Canaan Red (Galilee)

For the second night of Hanukkah, go with a definite crowd pleaser. According to the winery’s website, this kosher red blend, made with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Syrah, was produced with Israeli cuisine in mind. But if this “easy” drinker isn’t for you, check out our other recently reviewed red blends.

Night 3.

Golan Heights Winery 2021 Mount Hermon White (Galilee)

After two nights of big bold reds, take a break with this kosher white wine. This bottle offers refreshing aromas of lemon and baked apple. Another pick from Israel, this selection hails from Galilee, which is considered the country’s best growing region.

89 Points Wine Enthusiast

This wine has aromas of pineapple, lemon and baked apple. It has flavors of pineapple, grapefruit, green apple, white flowers and a floral lift on the finish. Best BuyM.D.

$16 Wine.com

Night 4.

Galil Mountain 2019 Galil Ela Red (Galilee)

Now that you’ve had a break from red wines, jump back in on night four with this bottle that offers flavors of black cherry and Valencia orange that are joined by note of dark chocolate and thyme. And as it’s now halfway through Hanukkah make sure to check out Galil’s other selections to ensure you have plenty of wine for the remaining nights.

92 Points Wine Enthusiast

Dark ruby in the glass, this wine has a bouquet of cherry, blackberry and black olive paste. It is bright at first sip, with flavors of black cherry and Valencia orange that are joined by note of dark chocolate and thyme. Glossy tannins recede into an orange zest infused finish. —M.D.

$24 Wine.com

Night 5.

Covenant 2021 Red C Rosé (California)

For night five, Israel’s several thousand-year-old winemaking traditions meet California in this kosher rosé. With its “mouthwatering palate-cleansing acidity and fruit that is well concentrated,” this bottle is a no brainer when it comes to food pairings.

91 Points Wine Enthusiast

A snappy texture and lively peach and apricot flavors light up this exceptional, medium-bodied, light-copper-colored wine. It offers both mouthwatering palate-cleansing acidity and fruit that is well concentrated. —Jim Gordon

$37 Wine-Searcher

Night 6.

Taub Family Vineyards 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon (Mount Veeder)

With only three more nights of feasting, it’s time to take out the selection everyone knows and loves: The Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. With its ripe black plums and currants on a smooth but massively structured texture, this wine can stand with meats as well as latkes and other fried foods. Not a Napa Cab fan? No worries, check out our other reviews from the region.

95 Points Wine Enthusiast

This wine has the classic Napa Cab nose of mint, black currants and cedar. These lead to a flood of ripe black plums and currants on a smooth but massively structured texture. Fine-grained tannins deftly support all the rich fruits and spices for good balance. Best from 2025–2035. —J.G.

$67 Total Wine & More

Night 7.

Paltrinieri 2020 La Riserva (Lambrusco di Sorbara)

What’s a celebration without some bubbles? If you haven’t broken out some sparklers, make sure you do so by (at least) night seven. With its “beautiful pink-rose hue of the wine and its white-strawberry and red-currant aromas” and bracing yet refreshing acidity, this is a bubbly meant to be enjoyed with loved ones. If Champagne is more your jam, be sure to check out our most recent reviews.

96 Points Wine Enthusiast

The La Riserva from Paltrinieri is the wine that turns heads the moment it’s poured. It will stop a conversation. The beautiful pink-rose hue of the wine and its white-strawberry and red-currant aromas pour out of the glass, causing you to want to smell deeper. And there you will find cherry, fresh herbs, and a serious depth that puts it closer to Champagne than any other Lambrusco I have tasted. The acidity is bracing and refreshing and each glass will tell a more interesting story than the one before. —Jeff Porter

$15 Wine-Searcher

Night 8.

Saracina 2021 Lolonis Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Mendocino County)

After eight nights of feasting and drinking, you will probably feel like ending the holiday on a lighter note. This Sauvignon Blanc offers fresh, vibrant fruits of green apple and pear, and refreshing sea-salt-like salinity. Another benefit to Sauvignon? It’s very food-friendly and pairs well with everything from fish to meat to vegetables. So, if you’ve been hosting all eight nights you can (finally) kick back, relax and enjoy.

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

This light, crisp Sauvignon Blanc imparts layers of aromas and flavors. Fresh, vibrant fruits of green apple and pear, just-ripe white nectarine and peach skin are complemented by dewy grass, baby’s breath and a sea-salt-like salinity. As the wine opens, zestier components emerge, suggesting lime zest, lemon pith, lemongrass and lime leaf. Lovely acidity runs through the center, uplifting the midpalate. This elegant, nuanced wine can be enjoyed on its own yet is versatile enough for a variety of dishes.

$25 Wine.com

This article was updated on December 7, 2022.

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