L.A.’s wine guru Lou Amdur, no longer Sqirl-adjacent and now operating his Lou’s Wine Shop and Tastings in Los Feliz, has thoughts about wine and Hanukkah, which begins Tuesday evening. None of the wines, however, were made according to Jewish dietary law.
There's some lactic acid, so I'd suggest a white wine that goes through malolactic fermentation. This is a natural process in which lactic bacteria eat some or all of the naturally occurring malic acid in wine, and convert it to lactic acid. Some white wine is sulfured, following fermentation, to keep this from happening. I'd suggest a dry Hungarian Furmint. Or a Portuguese wine made from the grape Antao Vaz. Bott makes an astonishing dry Furmint. For Portuguese, the 100% Antao Vaz from Herdade do Rocim is superb. Another great option would be an off-dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire valley.
Sad? What made you sad?
I'm hardly saying anything startling regarding chicken and good Beaujolais. This is wisdom enshrined in decades, if not centuries, of standard bistro fare.
And parsnip latkes. I got that idea from Union Square Cafe in New York. Parsnips, like carrots, are naturally sweet, and frying them in oil caramelizes some of the sugar, emphasizing their natural sweetness. With any style of latke, I think applesauce is called for, so I’d go with a wine that’s fruity, a little sweet, and with inherent apple-y flavors, but you have to also have sufficient acid to make it a refreshing beverage.
Translation: Soft, tender.
I used to really dig Cotes du Rhone, but the wines have become over the top -- 5% a.b.v. [alcohol by volume] is no longer an outlier vintage. From our shores, Mike Cruse's Valdiguie -- so good! Super juicy, bright. If you do not have access to a good neighborhood wine shop, you can pick up a bottle of J. Lohr's Valdiguie at your local Albertsons for maybe $12 or so. Also, Mike Roth's wines -- his Cabernet Franc.
And on the last night of Hanukkah? What's a good closer?
I'd suggest something really atavistic, old-school, skin-contact white wine, a.k.a. orange wine. Kabaj would be great, but what I'd love for people to try is a skin-contact Verduzzo from Friuli. I'm partial to anything Denis Montanar makes. Actually, a skin-contact Verduzzo would be great for all eight days.