By Gabriel Geller
For many, if not most of us (all of us quite frankly), Shabbos and yom tov are not only great mitzvos; they require both spiritual and material preparation. It is almost inconceivable to imagine getting through life without Shabbos and the yomim tovim. The physical and mental rest they provide, away from work and away from our phones, commute, and e-mails, are priceless. It is a tremendous gift to have these days to have the joy of davening, learning, and spending quality time with our families.
Over the past year, we have probably heard the word “essential” more than ever before—essential workers, essential businesses, essential services. A friend of mine who does not drink wine was surprised that wine stores and distributors were among the essential businesses allowed to remain open during the COVID-19 lockdowns. However, from a Jewish perspective, it is simple to understand why wine would be considered essential. I am not referring only to Kiddush and such. When the Gemara says, “There is no joy without meat and wine” (Pesachim 109a,) it means that we really have to seek joy actively. If satisfying one’s material and physical desires of drinking wine and eating meat brings him joy, one should do so to accomplish the mitzvah of being joyous on Shabbos and yom tov. Therefore yes, wine is essential. In these challenging times, we can all use some extra joy. This coming Sukkos and Simchat Torah, we should all take it up a notch and make an effort to rejoice.
Making Kiddush on sparkling wine is always a joyful and refreshing way to start a meal on Shabbos and yom tov. The Drappier Rosé de Saignée is a beautiful pink Champagne that looks, smells, and tastes delicious. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, it has a bouquet of red berries, toasted bread, and grapefruit. It is also great as a palate cleanser between the many delicious dishes at the table. Good wine does not have to be expensive, though. The budget-friendly Baron Herzog Chardonnay 2019 is delightfully flavorful and a perfect companion to baked salmon.
Sukkos, especially if you live in California, Florida, or Israel, can still be quite warm at lunchtime. Many rosé wines are already gone from the stores’ shelves. Yet, some are still available, including the Pacifica Rosé 2019 from the Columbia Gorge region in Washington. This elegant rosé boasts a fragrant aroma and flavors of stone fruits such as ripe peaches and apricots and notes of sweet cherries and strawberries. Its refreshing acidity makes it also a great match to some appetizers such as sushi salad or roasted zucchini with tahini.
The wines of Bordeaux are known first and foremost for their supreme elegance. The wines hailing from the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appellation on the Gironde River’s right bank are no exception. The sommeliers characterize them as masculine yet silky. Les Roches de Yon-Figeac 2016 is a perfect example. This wine unwraps into a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, with a velvety texture; its blackberry aromas and earthy undertones will highlight any holiday meal, regardless of the weather.
While this wine is enjoyable now, it will gain layers of flavors and complexity over the decade following the vintage, if it is cellared to age properly.
A bottle of Port-style Teperberg Essence Fortesse 2018 is quite an adequate conclusion to any festive meal. It can be served either at room temperature if it’s chilly out, or slightly chilled in milder weather, and will take any chocolate-based dessert to the next level and encourage singing and zemiros. Chag sameyach, L’chaim!