What’s the Connection Between White Wine and Shavuos?

Shavuos offers us the wonderful opportunity to pair great wines with tantalizing dairy dishes. Here are three interesting facts about white wine and its connection with Shavous.

By Levi Spiegel 

On Shavous day, the table will be beautifully set, and aromas of fresh lasagnas coming off the “Blech” will fill the air as the children delightfully fill the table with cheesecakes, pastas, blintzes, and the most delicious dairy dishes.

This meal is a Yom Tov meal; therefore, bottles of wine must be present. But what wine can possibly be served with cheesecakes, milk yogurts, and lasagnas?

Well, wine is mostly famous for its bleeding and luscious red liquid, the mighty red wine. Full of taste, tannin, acidity, and alcohol. Composed of ripe and aromatic red grapes. But what about wine’s shy side—not outgoing and exotic, but rather very quiet, graceful, and sweet—the glorious white wine.

1; “Shavuos”-food pairing;

Serious disclaimer: the following taste analysis is not factual; it is merely a suggestion for the reader to modify based on his personal preference.

Although you might really enjoy a powerful Cabernet, sometimes you just have to put it aside and allow the lighter wines to take over.

Food pairing is crucial when it comes to wine. Even Yehudit knew that when she fed the Greek general Holofernes with her heavy cheesecakes and overloaded him with red wine from the barrel, causing the general to fall asleep drunk, he then, using his own sword, cut off his head and brought it back to the city.

A good example of this is in Shavuos. Asides from the custom to eat dairy, we also have a mitzvah to drink wine at this meal, but it’s not going to be red wine this time; today the white wines will conquer our festive table, and the reds will lie helplessly on the side, watching with dread as the whites are downed one after another.

The truth is that there are exceptions, and red wine can sometimes pair with cheese, such as a light Cabernet Franc with a Lagsgaina. So don’t take my word for it; I exaggerated a little.

Generally speaking, light white wine pairs well with salads, cheese, bread, and fish. As we start escalating the intensity and richness of the wine towards rich Chardonnay grapes, turning the volume all the way up to light Pinot Noir (red wine), the food pairing also continues to match with more rich and full foods, such as chicken and light meat. For the grand finale, we reach the full-bodied red wines, such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and along with them, the heavy meat starts to kick in as its undeniable food match. 

There are no solid rules for food pairing; it is only a suggestion for the consumer to experiment with. So give it a try, will you?

2: “Halacha”

The bracha of “Hatov Vehametiv” is recited on some special occasions. One of them is when a new bottle of wine is brought to the table. One of the exclusions to this “bracha” is when the new wine is worse than the first wine. Unless the new wine is a white wine, because white wine is healthier than red, we recite the blessing despite its lack of taste, unless the wine is so disgusting that it’s hard to drink*.

Although red wine is considered more important and therefore is preferred for the four cups, on Shabbos we don’t have to get red wine for Kiddush if the white wine is better. (according to the Alter Rebbe**)

3: The process: 

White wine can be produced from both green and blue or red grapes!

If the grape skins are left out of the fermentation process, even though the actual grapes are red, the color and style of the wine that will follow will be transparent white. 

On the contrary, red wine cannot be produced using green grapes. Red wine is only made from red/blue grapes and is fermented together with the skins, which is where most of the acidity and tannin in the wine come from.

Please allow me to recommend four wines for you to try this week. One white wine, one Rośe, and one red wine, and a special blend as a bonus. 

1: “Yarden” Gewürztraminer: 

It has a nice sweetness to it, which will satisfy our sweet tooth. It is light and refreshing, and pineapple and tropical fruits can be tasted. Will pair nicely with light foods or dairy and can also be served as a dessert.

2: OrHaganuz Rośe 2021:

Very nice tannin and acidity are sensed immediately after the sip, it tickles a little in the tongue due to its young age and fermentation process. 

Try mixing this with the Yarden Gewürztraminer half and half, it’s a perfectly balanced and delicious blend. 

3: “Netofa” Tel Qasser 2018: 

This is a fabulous Syrah and grenache blend. The winemaker uses French methodology in the winemaking process, and although the winery is located in the upper Galilee, the wine is very much a French style wine, medium-bodied, very smooth, and light for a red wine. This is one of the best kosher wines I’ve ever had. This is a joker-card wine and will pair well with either dairy or meat.

Lechaim, A Gut Yom Tov!

*שולחן ערוך הרב סדר ברכות הנהנין סימן יב סעיף י״ג .

** שולחן ערוך הרב סימן תעב, ראה רמב״ן שחולק עליו וסובר שיין לבן אינו נחשב ליין ״אל תראה יין כי יתאדם״ (משלי כג, לא)

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  1. With all due respect, let the wine pros stick to their line and leave Halacha to Rabbanim. (1) “Asides from the custom to eat dairy, we also have a mitzvah to drink wine at this meal,” – other than Kiddush there’s no mitzvah to drink wine at this meal. (2) The footnote about Ramban is written not very Talmid-Chacham-like, ואכמ”ל.

    1. To your concern number 2, I’d advise you the Talmid Chacham to take a look in the שו״ע and you’ll see that the לשון of which you didn’t approve is actually the exact לשון used in the footnote in שוע .. So maybe reconsider. To your first concern, I don’t see a reason to reply, The answer is right there, within your own words, the mitzvah to recite kiddush.

      1. I didn’t say the Ramban doesn’t argue. I was referring to the language here which is NOT an exact quote from anywhere. As mentioned, אכמ”ל, but please explain how to read “SH”A Harav says XYZ and Ramban argues on HIM (!)”. P.S. I hadn’t noticed the author’s name is here; I apologize.

  2. The article itself is informative on wine, but its style is more fitting in a food mag, and the title is plain senseless from a Chasidish angle. White has zero with Shavuos, period.

  3. Thank you to the top sommelier in Lubavitch, slight constructive criticism:
    May garner more positive response with an editor of these articles, some of your usage is questionable.
    Thank you for this valuable service.

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