Though light, crisp and refreshing works best in warmer weather, a white wine with a little more body (think heavy cream vs. skim milk) pairs favorably with Shavuot classics such as creamy pastas, blintzes or quiche. Chenin Blanc is a white varietal whose origin is traced back to the Loire region of France. Commonly used to make sparkling or dessert wine, Chenin Blanc also makes lovely dry still wine that often possesses pretty floral and tropical aromas.
Baron Herzog uses the Chenin Blanc grape from their Clarksburg vineyard to make two excellent wines that are very reasonable priced. The 2008 Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc has a touch of sweetness and is an easy drinking wine with floral aromas and delicious apple flavors, making it a terrific pairing for sweet potato soufflé, fettuccini Alfredo or parmesan crusted flounder.
The 2008 Herzog Reserve Late Harvest Chenin Blanc is a wildly complex dessert style wine with an array of gorgeous aromas and flavors. Quince, kiwi, apricot, Boston cream pie and honey are just a few of the characteristics you may find in this wine. A perfect complement to pound cake and berries, this wine can also be served in the absence of dessert as dessert itself.
Another great (and more colorful) option for warm weather drinking is rosé. While red wines get their color from extended contact with the grape skins, rosé gets its color from minimal contact with the skins. Many rosé wines are actually made from familiar red varietals such as Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese and even Cabernet Sauvignon.
From Israel, the Binyamina winery makes a rosé under its Yogev label. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, this reddish-pink wine has tart berry aromas and is a nice option on a warm summer day. Though not traditional Shavuot fare, this wine makes me crave a summer BBQ and a juicy burger with all the fixings.
Another rosé, this one made in France, is the 2007 Rothschild Rosé de Clarke. This pinkish-orange tinged wine has fresh strawberry aromas and elegant mineral and fruit flavors. A pleasant and long finish makes this lovely rosé a worthy companion for those special salmon or tuna steaks.
Just as acidity wakes up the palate, so too do bubbles. Sparkling wines, such as those from Champagne, affectionately known as “bubbly”, should NOT be reserved only for special occasions. The CO2 in sparkling wines make them incredibly food friendly, capable of pairing with all kinds of foods. As an appetizer or dessert, with cold foods or hot and spicy foods, sparkling wines are every food’s best friend.
New to the market is the Herzog Selection Rose’ Brut. A lovely salmon colored wine made in France, it displays lovely tart berry characteristics. Look for hints of strawberry, raspberry & cherry – different from red wines, here they will be tart-like, almost as if they were under ripe. Though this wine can marry nicely with just about all foods, I would suggest pairing it with a spicy dish, or simply enjoying it outside with friends on a sunny day.
Gary Landsman, AKA the “Wine Tasting Guy”, makes, sells, writes about and of course tastes wine. You can read more of his writings in his blog at www.winetastingguy.com or contact him with any wine related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.