A Toast to Thanksgivukkah

What wines will you drink when Hanukkah and Thanksgiving share the same day?
Nov 20, 2013

The first day of Hanukkah hasn't landed on Thanksgiving Day for 125 years, which is hard to believe unless you realize that the traditional calendar and the Jewish calendar are calculated in vastly different ways.

And it won't happen again until 2070, then 2165, and according to the calculations of one quantum physicist, it won't repeat until 76,695. By then, Bubbe's celebrated raisin-and-green bean kugel might not have the same appeal with the turkey.

This idea of Thanksgivukkah, as it's being called, reminds me of an episode of the comedy The Big Bang Theory, in which Wolowitz mentions his mother's Thanksgiving Turbriskafil. It's a turkey stuffed with brisket that's stuffed with gefilte fish, a Jewish lampoon of turducken: turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken.

We've been celebrating Thanksgiving and Hanukkah side-by-side for decades. My wife's Jewish family gathers every year in Southern California and we all celebrate Hanukkah on the day after. (Even if it's technically weeks away.) We eat leftovers and there's usually a brisket, too.

And wine of course. If you think selecting a wine to go along with the turkey dinner spread is tough, just trying adding a brisket to the dilemma. It's impossible of course, so I usually open a little of everything and let everyone pick what they want for both events.

For Thanksgiving I look for lighter- to -medium-body reds like Pinot Noir (or Burgundy), Beaujolais or a red blend that's not too tannic, plus a floral white like Riesling, a delicate Chablis or (even better) a fruit-forward rosé.

For Hanukkah, many of those same wines might be fine with traditional side dishes like latkes or kugel, but when it comes to brisket you'll need something with a little more muscle, although a good Brunello di Montalcino could handle both. Otherwise, and depending on the recipe, look for a Cabernet or Bordeaux red, or something like a Chianti or a Rhône-style blend from California or France.

Below, I've pulled together 10 wine suggestions to look for. If you can't find them on your local shelves, Wine Spectator has a handy food-and-wine pairing guide, with timely helpful suggestions for roasted turkey and for brisket.

10 Wines for Thanksgivukkah


Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage 2011 (91 points, $32)

Bonny Doon Contra Old Vine Field Blend Contra Costa County 2011 (88, $16)

Georges Duboeuf Fleurie Flower Label 2011 (90, $18)

M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche 2011 (87, $15)

Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2011 (92, $45)

Whites and Rosé:

Chateau Ste. Michelle-Dr. Loosen Riesling Columbia Valley Eroica 2012 (90, $20)

Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc California 2012 (89, $12)

Marqués de Cáceres Albariño Rias Baixas Deusa Nai 2011 (90, $16)

Trimbach Gewürztraminer Alsace 2010 (88, $27)

Tablas Creek Rosé Patelin de Tablas Paso Robles 2012  (90, $20)


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