Navigate to News section

The Perfect Wine to Drink With Your Latkes

This Hanukkah, try a sparkling white wine with your potato pancakes

Stephanie Butnick
December 17, 2014
Latkes and sparkling wine at Katz's Delicatessen. (Photos by Adam Teeter)
Latkes and sparkling wine at Katz's Delicatessen. (Photos by Adam Teeter)

Hanukkah is a festive celebration during which Jews get together with family and friends, light the candles, tell the story of the holiday (whatever it actually is), and inhale oily foods in commemoration of the ancient oil lasting eight days instead of one. Given all that family time—and the greasy food—you may find yourself needing a drink.

In the holiday spirit, I headed to Katz’s Delicatessen with our friends from VinePair to find out the best wines to pair with classic Hanukkah dishes.

First up, latkes.

The ultimate Hanukkah food, latkes at their most basic are simply potatoes fried in oil—which makes them not only delicious, but perfect for pairing with sparkling white wine. (Need a latke recipe? Try Joan Nathan’s ultimate latke, these epic brisket latkes, or these sweet and savory vegan mini latkes.)

The VinePair folks say sparkling wine works so well not just because it’s light and has a nice acidity, but because the bubbles actually cut through the fat of the dish, waking up your palette. It works like a Pilsner, they explain, creating a similarly appealing effect to drinking beer with french fries.

If you’re looking for an affordable bottle, they say stick with Prosecco or Cava. (Here’s a full list of sparkling wines.)

Next on the menu, knishes.

This also greasy Jewish dish is a year-round staple that usually makes its way to the table on Hanukkah. (Here’s a handy guide to knishes in the United States.) And just like latkes, knishes go perfectly with bubbly. Whatever sparkling wine you choose for the latkes will be great with knishes.

And finally, blintzes.

In addition to the ‘latkes, latkes, latkes’ attitude prevalent on Hanukkah, there’s also a custom of celebrating the holiday by eating dairy food. While Jewish scholars disagree (naturally) on the origin of the tradition, many people serve cheesecake or, better yet, blintzes with their Hanukkah meals.

Katz’s makes theirs fresh every morning, and the VinePair folks suggest pairing the fluffy cheese dish with a Pinot Noir. The bright berry flavors, they explain, deliver the same profile you’d get if you were to use a fruit sauce in the blintzes—but with none of the cloying, sugary aftertaste. Instead you’ll probably have a bit of buzz.

They say you can’t go wrong with any Pinot Noir from Oregon, France, or even upstate New York.

Happy Hanukkah, and L’chaim.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.