Wine Takes a Holiday

We are smack dab in the middle of Hannukah, that time when latkes make their annual appearance on Jewish tables when debates emerge as to the proper preparation for this dish and when no wine in particular is served at the Hannukah table. And why is that? Why has no one type of wine emerged as the de rigueur pour for the Hannukah table? For that matter why has no single wine become the go-to pour for Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, the Super Bowl, Fourth of July or any other designated holiday in the U.S? The answer is we (the wine trade) just aren’t trying hard enough.

The only wine that has achieved some linkage to a specific holiday is sparkling wine, which remains is a seeming MUST for New Year’s Eve. Naturally, sparkling wine sales soar by over 250% for the two weeks prior to New Year’s Eve in comparison to other two-week periods. There is also the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. For a time, we all drank a bit of that wine on the official day of its arrival on our shores. But the fact that this shitty, insipid wine could command attention on a single day of the year suggests to me that the only reason other types of wines have not found a linkage to specific important days is that, again, we just aren’t trying. If Beaujolais Nouveau can claim a day, then any wine can claim a day. So why not make that day one that attracts the most attention.

It seems any effort to connect a particular wine to a particular kind of celebration would have to be the work of some industry group that has taken it upon themselves to promote a specific wine, be it regional or generic. Moreover, the effort to link a wine to a specific holiday would never work by linking the wine to the type of food connected to the holiday. The fact is, the industry has spent decades now reminding anyone who will listen that proper wine pairings are bullshit. And they are, for the most part. No. What needs to happen is the specific wine needs to be connected to some aspect of the holiday’s meaning.

For example, it would seem that Zinfandel should be linked to either the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving since Zinfandel, like these two holidays, is decidedly American in posture. Making either link stick would be a multi-year and multi-channel promotional effort. But wouldn’t it be beneficial? Imagine if just 5% of folks that celebrated Thanksgiving decided they MUST serve a bottle of Zinfandel next to their turkey. Zinfandel sales would soar to remarkable heights. Maybe it would take a 10 or 20-year effort to achieve this result. But who cares?

Wine finds itself with flat sales. Its competitors in the alcohol space expand constantly. The competitors for inebriation dollars are no longer just beer and spirits. It seems unlikely that wine sales will take on an elevated trajectory one day after people realize, “oh, yeah…wine is just better so let’s put aside those RTDs, Ciders, Kampuchas and Seltzers. No. In lieu of scientific discovery that wine drinking adds many years to your life or prevents all forms of cancer, If wine is going to win back a larger share of alcohol sales it’s going to be done with some innovative and grandiose marketing backed by millions of dollars.

As for marketing wine for Hannukah, I’m really at a loss. My first thought is to link the holiday to any wine that gets the taste of sweet kugel out of my mouth as quickly as possible.


8 Responses

  1. Gabriel Froymovich - November 30, 2021

    I’d pick Petite Sirah or sparkling. It has the acidity to cut through the oiliness of latkes and compete with the light acidity of the creme fraiche on top. It can also stand up to the fatty brisket and organ meat my mom serves on Hanukkah.

  2. Gabriel Froymovich - November 30, 2021

    Oh, and the sparkling because, well, it’s a celebration!

  3. Alan Goldfarb - November 30, 2021

    Come on Gabriel! Creme fraiche on lakes!? A shonda. Sour cream my modern Jewish boychick.

  4. Alan Goldfarb - November 30, 2021

    You should pardon the expression. I know it’s latkes . Sour cream for the glitsianah and apple sauce for the litvaks. Or is it the other way around,?

  5. Donn Rutkoff - December 1, 2021

    Mesnil for the Goldfarbs. Cooks sparkling for the Litvaks and Shmurackies (Brditchev) like me.

  6. Alan Goldfarb - December 1, 2021

    I’ll take the Mesnil Donn; very generous. No vishtach Schmurakies or Brdtichev; ‘splain Lucy.

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  8. Donn Rutkoff - December 3, 2021

    Alan, my father’s side boated here from Lithuania. Mother’s side boated here from Brditchev in Ukraine. Her father’s last name was Schmurackie. A very non hebrew or yid name It is a yiddishized form of Shamrock, as in Ireland I suspect, due to a strain of red hair and freckles in this side of the family, that a few hundred years ago, a yid married an itinerant traveller from Ireland, and was thus called a Shamrocky. At Ellis Island, the Irish officer there was going to change the name to Shamrock, but the family objected. So we became Shermans. Pops side made slivovitz, one botttle exploding in a closet I am told. Mom’s side, well, apparently, one of my grandfathers’ brothers was rubbed out by mobsters. He was importing, or smuggling, barley into New Jersey during prohib. without the blessing of the ruling mobsters.


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