Thanksgiving Wine and Beer Selections, Bubbe Approved

Hebrew Jewbelation
Hebrew Jewbelation

For the first time in a long time, two great days of diet-breaking are coming together in a synergy of gluttony that will be known forever more as “Thanksgivukkah”. This year, the second night of Hanukkah arrives on Thanksgiving Day and brings with it some word bending and menu melding heretofore unseen at this level.  It’s a veritable chelm of tryptophan and it’s right around the corner. The oh-so-awesome portmanteau of Thanksgivukkah (Channudank in Yiddish) has inspired dinner mash-ups and crossovers galore.  Kosher cranberry dishes are filling up a table of turkey and kugel.  And naturally the trend has quickly spilled from the kitchen to the kitsch. How about lighting a candle on the menurkey?  Can’t have a new holiday without a t-shirt. And get your greeting cards here!

While there are plenty of much appreciated jokes, what none of the quipsters are providing is the answer to a very serious question that is really needed on this the holiest of days. What does one drink with a Thanksgivukkah feast?

Here are some recommendations for the once in a lifetime holiday:

Shmaltz Turducken
Shmaltz Turducken

In the beginning there was light (beer).  As friends and family shuffle in, treat them to a nice, fresh, low alcohol beer to start the evening off. For instance, chose a beer from The Chosen Beer: He’Brew Genesis Ale.  It’s a session beer, which means it is low in alcohol, so you can ease into overindulgence, sipping while picking and kvetching. This is a perfect beer to kick off the Festival of Lights.

When all of the Janus-faced, franken-appetizers of Thanksgivukkah start to come out, the session beer will still work fine, but many guests would probably rather switch to wine with dinner food. For nosh like smoked salmon dip, squash knishes and sweet potato latkes, grab a glass of Mony Hills Semillon Chardonnay. Its bright, acidic notes and fruit aromas will help cut through some of the schmaltz.

On to the feast.  While most people are focusing on the boon of Thanksgiving flavors being brought to the Hanukkah table, an argument could be made that the greatest contribution of this coincidence is the bringing of the brisket to Thanksgiving. Hallelujah! The reasons are twofold: Besides being a great dish to enjoy at any time, the presence of brisket also allows for some heavier red wines to enter the Thanksgiving meal that might not have been welcome before among all of the white meat and sweet sides.

Rugelach, courtesy awhiskandaspooon
Rugelach, courtesy awhiskandaspooon

It’s easy to pour a cabernet that will work with both the brisket and the dark meat of the turkey.  Or maybe a Washington State Pinot Noir that might gel with all of the meats, and even with the challah stuffing and horseradish mashed potatoes. For a big red that will work well on all counts, try Hevron Heights Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz, a medalist in the 2012 NY International Wine Competition.

For most, the feast that is the Thanksgivukkah meal is just a warm up for a top-button-busting round of dessert.  Save room for pumpkin-ginger rugelach, mandelbrodt praline or apple cake, and of course, a beverage to wash it down. For the finale, let’s go back to what brought us here - He’Brew’s Jewbelation Reborn. At 17% alcohol it's a beer that tastes more like a fine sherry than beer, and thus works great as a dessert drink. It’s very dark with a creamy-sweet mouthfeel of fresh sufganiyot and pronounced notes of Hanukkah gelt (milk chocolate) on the palate.  The spiciness of the hops plays well with rugelach and spiced apple cakes.

It’s been a long day, and there’s been enough food and drink for two holidays. All that’s left is to sit down in front of the TV with a glass of Loch Chaim whiskey and root for the Lions against the Packers.  L’chaim!